Look To The Yams: New Study Finds Africans, Caribbean Immigrants Healthier than African-Americans ~ Charing Ball

Source: http://madamenoire.com/726801/look-to-the-yams-new-study-finds-africans-caribbean-immigrants-healthier-than-african-americans/

Over the weekend, I had dinner with a long-time friend who was visiting from his adopted home in Korea.

The friend, who is African-American, born and raised in Philadelphia and had only been in the States for a month, said one thing he didn’t enjoy about returning home was the weight gain. So far, he had gained 15 pounds.

“I think part of the reason for my weight gain is because the food over there is horrible,” he said as he took a bite into his second helping of tacos.


But according to new research, it might be environmental.


As reported by the New York Daily News:

“A new study from the city’s Health Department examining health discrepancies among black New Yorkers found that Caribbean and African immigrants tend to have fewer health problems like asthma and obesity than American-born blacks.

American-born blacks are also more apt to smoke and drink than blacks who are originally from other countries, the study says.

Some 53% of American blacks labeled themselves as drinkers, compared with 44% of Caribbeans and 34% of Africans.

No black group drinks as much as white New Yorkers, 70% of whom reported being drinkers, the study found.”

The health distinction between Diaspora and native Africans does not stop there. As the article notes, African-Americans have a greater percentages of obesity, asthma and high-blood pressure than our West Indian and African counterparts.

In fact, the only illness category in which all Blacks rated the same was diabetes (between 13 and 14 percent).

Although this particular health department study doesn’t spell out other factors that might contribute to the health gap (outside of smoking and drinking), its findings underscores previous research, which contrasts the health benefits between African-Americans and traditional South African diets.

In that study, which was published in April of 2015, colon cancer researchers at the University of Pittsburgh switched the diets of 20 African-Americans and 20 South Africans in a two week period span.

And as reported by Think Progress:

“In this time, the Africans consumed traditional American food — meat and cheese high in fat content — while African Americans took on a traditional African diet — high in fiber and low in fat, with plenty of vegetables, beans, and cornmeal, with little meat.

After the exchange, researchers performed colonoscopies on both groups and found that those in the African diet group increased the production of butyrate, a fatty acid proven to protect against colon cancer. Members of the American diet group, on the other hand, developed changes in their gut that scientists say precede the development of cancerous cells.”

You can read the study here.

And of course, none of this is conclusive. Like I said, my friend has been living in Korea. And when not in the States, he tends to only eat fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats anyway.

But if you find yourself ailing from a disease or obesity, and you’re not getting anywhere with modern medicine and other dietary suggestions, perhaps the answer might involve eating like our ancestors, pre-slavery, did?

Image via Shutterstock

Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and the reigning queen of unpopular opinions. She is also from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit NineteenSeventy-Seven.com.


To the White Parents of my Black Son’s Friends ~ Maralee

I’ve been wrestling with talking to you about some things I think you need to know. I’ve wrestled with it because I feel my own sense of shame– shame that I didn’t know or understand these issues before they touched my family. I’ve felt fear that you’ll respond in subtle ways that make it clear you aren’t safe for my child. I’ve been concerned that you won’t believe me and then I’ll feel more angry than if I hadn’t said anything. But my son is getting older and as he transitions from an adorable black boy to a strong black man, I know the assumptions about him will change. And I need your help in keeping him safe.

We talk to our son about safety issues. We talk to him about being respectful of police (and anyone in authority), about keeping his hands where they are visible, about not wearing his hood up over his face or sneaking through the neighbor’s backyard during hide-and-seek or when taking a shortcut home from school. We are doing what we can to find this bizarre balance of helping him be proud of who he is and helping him understand that not everybody is going to see him the way we see him. Some people are going to see him as a “thug” before they ever know his name, his story, his gifts and talents.

But here’s the thing– as much as we can try to protect him and teach him to protect himself, there may come a time when your child will be involved. As the parents of the white friend of my black son, I need you to be talking to your child about racism. I need you to be talking about the assumptions other people might make about my son. I need you to talk to your child about what they would do if they saw injustice happening.

I know that in a white family it is easy to use words like “colorblind” and feel like we’re enlightened and progressive. But if you teach your kids to be colorblind, they may not understand the uniquely dangerous situations my child can find himself in. If you tell your kids racism happened a long time ago and now it’s over and use my family as an example of how whites and blacks and browns can all get along together, you are not doing me any favors. Just because you haven’t seen obvious examples of racism in your own life doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

It is easy to think we live in a colorblind society when you don’t know that two weeks ago I was on the phone with the principal at my son’s school to discuss the racial insults he was regularly receiving from the student sitting next to him. I was thankful for how seriously the school handled that incident and we consider it a huge victory that my son felt safe telling his parents and teacher how he was being teased since many kids don’t. It is easy to think we live in a post racial society when you don’t know that a neighbor of mine called the Child Protective Services hotline to complain about my kids behaving in the exact same ways as the ten other white neighbor children they regularly play with behave (playing in the “street”– we live on a cul-de-sac–, playing in our front yard without shoes, asking for snacks from the neighbor parents- these are the actual complaints that were made). I don’t want to begin to tell you the trauma it is to former foster kids when a social worker shows up at your house to interview them and I’m afraid I haven’t yet forgiven our neighbor for bringing that on our family (although it was quickly determined to be a ridiculous complaint and there was no further action taken). The thing is, I doubt that neighbor even thinks of himself as racist, but the fact that when the white kids of the neighborhood do it it’s “kids being kids”, but when the kids of color are involved it’s got to be addressed by authorities shows the underlying bias of his assumptions. This isn’t “concern”, this is harassment.

So white parents, please talk to your kids about racism. If they see my son being bullied or called racist names, they need to stand with him. They need to understand how threatening that is and not just something to be laughed off. If your child is with my child playing soccer at the park and the police drive by, tell your child to stay. Just stay right there with my son. Be a witness. In that situation, be extra polite, extra respectful. Don’t run and don’t leave my son by himself. If you are with my son, this is not the time to try out any new risky behaviors. Whatever trouble you get into, he will likely not be judged by the same standard you are. Be understanding that he can’t make the same mistakes you can.

White parents, treat my son with respect. Don’t rub his head because you want to know what his hair feels like. Don’t speak black slang to him because you think it would be funny. If you’re thinking about making a joke that you feel might be slightly questionable, just don’t do it. Ever. Your kids are listening and learning from you even in the jokes you tell. Be conscious of what media messages your kids are getting about race. Engage in tough conversations about what you’re hearing in the news. Don’t shy away from this just because you can. He can’t. We can’t.

Be an advocate for this beautiful soul who has eaten at your kitchen table, sat next to your son at church, been at your child’s birthday party. He is not the exception to the rule. He is not protected by my white privilege for the rest of his life. He is not inherently different from any other little black boy and ALL their lives have value and worth and were created by God. I have hope that when white parents start talking about these issues with our white kids, maybe that’s where change starts.




Farmer John Boyd Jr. Wants African-Americans To Reconnect With Farming ~ NPR Staff

John Boyd Jr., with his father, John Boyd Sr.

John Boyd Jr., with his father, John Boyd Sr.

Fred Watkins /Courtesy of John Boyd Jr.

As an African-American, John Boyd Jr. might not be what Americans imagine when they think of a typical farmer. But Boyd has been farming his entire life, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him. He grows wheat, corn and soybeans and has cattle at his southwestern Virginia farm.

Boyd has been involved in the politics of farming as well. In 2010, he rode his tractor to Washington, D.C., to plead for settlement funds in a long-running lawsuit against the federal government for historical discrimination against black farmers. He also is the president of the National Black Farmers Association.

Boyd spoke recently with NPR’s Michel Martin about the complicated historical relationship between African-Americans and farming in the United States.

<iframe src=”http://www.npr.org/player/embed/466565785/466748115&#8243; width=”100%” height=”290″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” title=”NPR embedded audio player”>

Click the audio link above to hear the interview. Interview highlights contain some Web-only extended answers.

Interview Highlights

How he describes his role

First and foremost, I’m always a farmer. But I’m always looking to make farming better. So I’m always looking for creative ways to make it better — to find access to markets for African-American farmers and other small farmers. …

I’m a farmer — I love the land. And if you don’t love the land and you don’t love raising crops, then there’s no way possible that you can be a farmer day in and day out because you’re not going to get rich farming.

Did he ever want to do anything else?

My father’s a farmer … and I watched him farm. I watched both my grandfathers farm. My mother’s father was a sharecropper. So I watched both of them farm and they taught me how to farm. And I said “Hey, I’m going to be a farmer.” I didn’t grow up saying I wanted to be a doctor … a lawyer … a dentist. I actually wanted to farm.

[I] always was excited about land ownership. My father taught me very early on that land is the most important tool that a person can possess. And he taught me if I treat the land good the land will take care of me.

He said, “The land didn’t mistreat anybody, didn’t discriminate against anybody.” He said, “people [do].” But if you put down a proper limeseed and fertilizer at the right time, that you can grow just as good a crop as any man.

And that brought out the competitive edge in me. So I wanted to take what he was doing and turn it into something bigger and better and more effective. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

On the 30-year lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Basically it was the government discriminating against black farmers. For not lending them money on time, for not processing their loan applications.

I always said farmers are faced with acts of nature such as hurricanes, tornadoes and droughts. But you never should be faced with the actual hand of the federal government. They’re supposed to give you a lending hand up, and not a lending hand down and mistreat people the way the government mistreated black farmers.

On why it matters that black people farm

I think it’s a part of, a great part of history. I don’t care how many generations you go back, you’re only one or two generations away from somebody’s farm. We all came from the farm. That’s why we were brought to this country as black people. We were brought to work the land and clean up the South for scotch-free as slaves.

That’s why it has a negative impact. And it’s because of the bad stigma that we’ve had because of sharecropping, because of slavery. Our people — black people — die from everything. Heart attack, stroke, obesity. And it’s from the foods that we’re eating.

If we had more black people growing healthy foods — not as a megafarmer, but farming right in their backyard. Growing string beans, onions, all of the vegetables. If you were growing these things and eating more healthy foods, we wouldn’t have some of the illnesses that plague us.

I think if we got reconnected with the farm, everything would be better. I would like to see our people go back to land ownership — get back to communities where we came from and really start doing some positive things.



A white mom’s plea ‘to the white parents of my black son’s friends’ ~ Lonnae O’Neal

(Renee Welstead)

The night after a grand jury declined to indict the white police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice at a park in Cleveland, Maralee Bradley, a white mother of six, including a 9-year-old black son, slept fitfully in Lincoln, Neb.

She and a friend had been talking about Tamir, and the friend asked: “What can we do? How can we help?” Bradley kept waking up, thinking about different pieces of the question.

Thinking about Josh, her adopted Liberian son, hanging out with white friends at a park, about him being the only child of color at another child’s birthday party. “What do I need those parents to be aware of?” she asked herself. “What might feel unsafe to me that they might not know about?”

“I was just thinking we need a level of awareness for everybody involved with my child,” Bradley says.

A Cleveland grand jury on Monday, Dec. 28, declined to bring charges against two police officers in the shooting death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy. Here is what you need to know about the grand jury’s decision. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

The next morning, she wrote an essay, “To the White Parents of My Black Son’s Friends,” on her parenting blog. It was heartfelt, unsparing and spelled out things she wanted a small group of people — her son’s teachers, the people who had him in their homes — to understand.

“I’ve been wrestling with talking to you about some things I think you need to know. I’ve wrestled with it because I feel my own sense of shame — shame that I didn’t know or understand these issues before they touched my family. . . . I’ve been concerned that you won’t believe me and then I’ll feel more angry than if I hadn’t said anything. But my son is getting older and as he transitions from an adorable black boy to a strong black man, I know the assumptions about him will change. And I need your help in keeping him safe,” she began.

She wrote of the “bizarre balance” of things she and her husband had to tell Josh about the police, how to wear hoodies, and about not sneaking through a neighbor’s back yard during hide-and-seek. Then she asked other parents to do some things.

“As the parents of the white friend of my black son, I need you to be talking to your child about racism. I need you to be talking about the assumptions other people might make about my son. I need you to talk to your child about what they would do if they saw injustice happening.”

If you hear someone call him racist names, say something. Don’t speak black slang around him, trying to be funny. Don’t rub his head because you want to know how his hair feels. Being with Josh “is not time to try out any new risky behaviors.” And if the police approach you, don’t run, don’t leave him alone.

“Literally, I needed 50 people to know this information,” Bradley told me. “But it obviously touched a nerve with a lot more people than that.”

A good post for her usually reaches 15,000 people. By Tuesday, 600,000 people had clicked and hundreds had commented.

In the essay, she urges white parents not to be colorblind, which struck many white people as counterintuitive and wrong. But she sees colorblindness as a loss and a teaching that doesn’t serve her son.

“We see our kids’ colors, and we value them,” Bradley said. In addition to Josh, she has two biological sons, a Native American son, a Mexican American daughter and a biracial daughter (African American and white). “The reality is the world sees color. . . . When our kids are treated differently based on race, we all have to be aware of that.”

It’s something Bradley’s friends have begun coming to terms with. Stephanie Westburg and Bradley often attend church activities together. Josh and Westburg’s daughter, Sophie, 9, have been friends since first grade. Westburg doesn’t follow the news. She knew little of Tamir Rice until Bradley wrote the essay.

She told her daughter: “I want to talk to you about the latest post that Maralee wrote. And it’s about Josh.” His skin color is different, she explained, and that means different things to different people. Westburg imagined how people might react if they saw Sophie and a white friend from around the corner playing “Star Wars” — and how they might react to Sophie and Josh playing, especially as Josh gets taller. She talked about people calling Josh names and what Sophie should do if a police officer questioned them. “I told her, ‘Stand up for him and stay with him,’ which are things I’d never thought to instruct my child to do for any other kid.”

Sophie listened quietly. And when Westburg asked how she felt, she cried. “She said, ‘I’m so sad, and I’m so angry,’ ” Westburg said.

Bradley calls 2015 a year of reading about race and listening to other people’s stories.

In 2016, she told me, she hopes that “white families become aware that black families are having to have these kinds of conversations” and realize “we need to be better advocates for those families and those kids. I have an awareness of how much white families do not talk about race. . . . We need to develop a new awareness that this is impacting our brothers and our sisters. This is impacting people that we love. We’re choosing to be unaware, and we can’t keep making that choice.”

For more by O’Neal, visit wapo.st/lonnae.



How to Parent on a Night Like This ~ Carvell Wallace


My son is home from school. He stays in bed while I take his little sister to her fourth grade class. He watches about eight hours of television. I have to work. We watch Skyfall together in the morning. The violence is a little beyond what I would normally allow, but something about a father and son watching a spy thriller together… I can’t resist. A Final Showdown at the Scottish Manor. Helicopters and explosions. Cars with semi-automatics in the headlights. Sawed-off shotguns.

I pick my daughter up at 3:30 while he stays at home. I take her to the grocery. We talk about persimmons and how to tell if they’re ripe. She asks me how I decide which chicken to buy. I explain about air-chilled, and free-range, and grain fed, and hormone free. I realize that I don’t actually understand “air chilled.” I send her clear across the store to go find peanut oil. She does. I am impressed.

In the car, she asks about her brother. I tell her he’s home alone. She is quiet for a few more minutes. Then she tells a story of the time her mother went to the store and left them home alone. And they heard a sound. An explosion of a kind. And her older brother started panicking, telling her it was gunshots, telling her to close the blinds and hide on the floor. And how she became terrified and FaceTimed Mommy from her iPad. And Mommy tried to calm her down, but eventually came right home, leaving a cart filled with groceries in the aisle.

Helicopters are already circling downtown.

She tells me that she now knows that they were overreacting. That it was probably fireworks. It didn’t sound like real gunshots. She’s heard real gunshots. They happened one afternoon while she was playing in the schoolyard. The teachers told them to run inside and they didn’t even have to line up. That’s how she knew it was serious.

We come back home and the kids are reunited. Rare is the day that one has school and the other doesn’t. They are so used to being together in the same cars on the same schedule, even at different schools, that when they see each other, there is awkwardness. They want to check in. If they were adults, they might say “how was your day?” and “I missed you!” But they are not adults. So they argue about who is the worst teacher at the elementary school, and then reminisce about funny episodes of sitcoms that they’ve watched. She quizzes him on his menu, keen to make sure that he didn’t get an ice cream or a cookie on his day off. She’s always keeping track of things like this. Everything must be even.

Grand Jury Decision is expected to be read at 8 p.m. CST.

She begins her homework. He watches vaguely racist and sexist YouTube videos.

I make her a snack of plain yogurt and granola.

Rumors are starting to spread that there will be no indictment.

I already know there will be no indictment. I’ve been a black man in America for a long time.

The house is quiet, everyone engrossed in their screens. I am agitated. Scrolling social media, lead in the pit of my stomach.

We’ve been here before. As a family.

We are black people in Oakland. We talk about race a lot. We talk about gender a lot. We discuss transphobia and homophobia a lot. We discuss capitalism and civil rights a lot. We’ve heard helicopters and chants and seen the streets burn. We’ve been to protests. We’ve held signs and played drums. We’ve had our car broken into and our heart-covered backpack and pink size 3 trench coat stolen from the front seat on the first night of Occupy. We’ve driven past armies of cops in riot gear in our minivan. We’ve been here before. We are black people in Oakland.

I send them to the corner store, so they can get outside and I can have some quiet. $3 each. I wonder if they’ll be attacked walking down the street. Black people sometimes get attacked when white people are scared of the reality of race.

Darren Wilson is not charged, and it makes me wonder if someone is going to attack my black children.

I decide to make tacos al pastor. I’m keeping it simple this week because Thanksgiving is a few days away and there’s going to be a shitload of cooking for that. I already have some frozen pork that I made months ago. I heat up the meat and tortillas. I am not very woo woo at all, but the one thing I know is that when I cook while agitated the food does not taste good. I try to calm down but I can’t. I brought my phone and Twitter feed into the kitchen. Scrolling with my pinky, leaving cumin residue on my screen.

They return with Rollos and 7up.

People are now live tweeting the speech. Apparently it’s taking forever. “what’s next, an interpretive dance?” a particularly funny tweet asks. The tortillas burn. I throw them out. Start again.

I consider playing the press conference on the living room TV. But my daughter warned me about that. She warned me when she told me how frightened she was of the firecracker that may have been a gun. What will the TV show my 9-year-old before she goes to sleep? I decided to let them stay lost in Netflix.

The food is… meh. Pork is overcooked. Salad dressing too vinegar-y. Beans underdone. But the rice turns out great. When all else fails I can always make amazing Spanish rice. Nevertheless, they finish every last bite and ask for more.

I retire upstairs while they do the post dinner chores.

I want to put my phone down but I can’t. Every moment without it feels terrifying. I read more on Twitter. Protesters have taken to the street. They’ve closed down 580. The freeway. I’m happy for them. Friends are uploading videos. I’ve been to enough protests in Oakland. I know this will be relatively harmless. A few white kids with masks will try and break shit. The police will not be stupid and everyone will go home relatively unscathed. It just has that feel.

It’s hard to continue. I wish it was my kids’ bedtime. I wish the dishes were done. I wish the house was clean. I wish America wasn’t racist. I wish Mike Brown was in police custody. I wish Darren Wilson admitted guilt. I wish America admitted guilt.

I post on Facebook “How do you parent on a night like this?” People respond with advice about how to talk to kids about race. Well-meaning, but missing the point. I don’t mean what do you say. I mean how do you go on.

How do you go on.

How do you make lunch for tomorrow and sweep and handle bath time?

How do you parent with a permanently broken heart?

I text their mother. “Hi” I say. She responds. But I stop. She is white. I don’t actually want to talk to any white people right now. I love her though. She is an exceedingly kind, strong and loving person. And I make a note to tell her the next time I see her.

My son is being a dick.

He keeps messing with his sister. He keeps not following directions. He keeps jumping around the house like a… well, like an 11-year-old boy. My patience is wearing thin. I want to yell at him. Will you calm the fuck down?! Do you know what the fuck is happening out there?! But I don’t. Because he will know way sooner than I want.

Mike Brown kept messing with people.

Mike Brown kept jumping around.

Mike Brown kept not following directions.

But when I tell him to brush his teeth and he bullshits for another 10 minutes, I finally lose it.

“Hey!” I yell. The room grows intensely quiet. “Get your shit together.”

I can see behind his eyes as he calculates how to respond. Another joke? An angry backlash? He does neither. He looks hurt. He fixes me with a sad stare, milking it just a bit, and then mopes upstairs. When he is five steps away, I call him back. He makes a joke of not wanting to get closer to me. “Come here” I say. He moves an inch. “No HERE.” He moves another. “HERE!” We do our little routine a few times more. We watch a lot of comedy together.

When he is close enough to touch, I reach out and hold him to me like I’ve maybe never held anyone to me in my entire life. I feel his warmth. The narrowness of his bones. The quick beat of his little heart. I bury my face awkwardly in the back of his neck. I choke back tears. I don’t want tears now.

“Dad. Are you alright?” He knows this is the next funny thing to say.

“I love you,” is all I can manage.

I stop before it gets any weirder for him. “I love you too, Dad. You’re a great dad.” And I can tell he means it.

Later they are both in my bed, in jammies, wet and clean from showers, blankets pulled to their chins. I read them two chapters from E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. They are fixated. They laugh hysterically at parts. They sit quietly rapt at others. Good food, good hugs, and good writing. For a second, I think I may have solved all the world’s problems.

She falls asleep after a time, curled like a conch shell in the vastness of my bed. He, as per usual, won’t quit. He begs me to continue. I tell him that it’s not fair to her. He is disappointed but understanding. He turns off the lamp next to my bed, and nestles himself in my blankets, not even pretending that he’s going to his own room, not even pretending that it matters where I sleep.

I read Darren Wilson’s grand jury testimony by the light of my phone.

Two hours later, I’m prepared to try and face the darkness and quiet of night.

I look at them both lying in my bed. They are unbelievably gorgeous children.

The thing about sleeping kids is that, in that moment, you can express your love for them in its complete fullness. I stare at them for a long time and memorize their faces. I allow these faces to be etched into my soul for all of eternity. I do this because I’m afraid I will lose them. I do this because I know I will lose them.

I may have even said “I hope you don’t ever grow up.”

But now, one day later, I’m not sure if I did.



Visual Artist Patrick Campbell’s Powerful Painting Heads To The Smithsonian ~ Erin White


One month after Mike Brown’s body laid uncovered in the streets of Ferguson, illustrator Patrick Campbell took to canvas and painted a new American flag: the old flag turned vertically, trails of red watercolor form nooses, from which human figures hang. ‘The New Age of Slavery’ is a disturbing and visceral reminder of America’s perpetual cycle of state-sanctioned violence against black Americans. And while images of hanged bodies juxtaposed against postcolonial nationalism harken back to slavery and Jim Crow, the sound of Eric Garner begging for air, the sight of Walter Scott’s fleeing back, and the story of Aiyana Jones cause the line between past and present to blur into one.

“This was a piece originally done because I was sick of the African American death that has been occurring too much with Travyon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and many more, due to… the government not caring! As African Americans, what is our life worth? As a people we SHOULD NOT be afraid of our government.” 

Campbell’s painting will be on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens it’s doors in 2016.

By Erin White, AFROPUNK contributor

Photo above: ‘The New Age of Slavery’

Photo above: Untitled

Photo above: ‘Blood on our Hands




5 Books for the Black, Queer Poet in Your Life ~ Lauren G. Parker


We all know that the writing and entertainment industries rarely uplift and empower Black queer voices. To help challenge that fact, we have compiled a list if writers you need on your shelf this holiday season.


  1. Voyage of the Sable Venus: And Other Poems by Robin Coste Lewis (Knopf, 2015)

Winner of the 2015 National Book Award for poetry, Lewis’ first collection considers the construction of the black female self, with the title poem being comprised solely of titles of artwork that reference the black female body in Western art.


2. black movie by Danez Smith (Button Poetry, 2015)

In the spirit of his poem “Dinosaurs in the Hood,” Smith explores both the moribundity and potential for joy in black life in black movie.


3. Boy With Thorn by Rickey Laurentiis (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)

Laurentiis explores the south, Hurricane Katrina and race in his 2014 Cave Canem Prize winning selection, selected by Terrance Hayes. Read two poems from the collection here.


4. transit by Cameron Awkward-Rich (Button Poetry, 2015)

Runner up for the 2014 Button Poetry Prize, Awkward-Rich’s collection beautifully assaults.


5. patient. by Bettina Judd (Black Lawrence Press, 2014)

Follow the speaker in Judd’s debut collection as an ordeal with medicine forces her to wrestle with the ghosts of Joice Heth, Lucy Zimmerman, Betsey Harris and Anarcha Wescott.



‘I Have Waited 15 Years For This Moment’ ~ Chris Bodenner

Ta-Nehisi’s acceptance speech for the National Book Award is up:

Here’s an excerpt from Between the World and Me, “A Letter to My Son,” if you haven’t read it yet. Peruse here the nine essays we commissioned related to the book. Constructive criticism from readers herehere, and here. Five varied roundups of reader stories of racism here. And here’s a video of TNC reading from his award-winning book:



Watch Toni Morrison Break Down Why Racism Is A White Problem ~ Zeba Blay

Toni Morrison is without a doubt one of the greatest novelists of all time, and one of the most profound thinkers on race and identity politics in America. Naturally, Morrison gets asked to share her thoughts on race all the time, but perhaps one of her most profound answers to the question “How do you feel about racism?” comes from the 1993 Charlie Rose interview above. 

“That’s the wrong question,” Morrison responds. “How do you feel?” 

What follows is two perfect minutes of Morrison’s poignant thoughts on how racist ideology affects white people as much as it effects people of color. 

“Don’t you understand that the people who do this thing, who practice racism, are bereft? There is something distorted about the psyche. It’s a huge waste, and it’s a corruption, and it’s a distortion. It’s a profound neurosis that nobody examines for what it is,” Morrison says.

Morrison’s final thought in the clip, which has been shared widely via Youtube and Tumblr, is probably the most important. She says: “What are you without racism? Are you any good? Are you still strong? Still smart? Do you still like yourself? …If you can only be tall because someone’s on their knees, then you have a serious problem.” 

In light of the recent events at the University of Missouri, as well as the overall racial tensions in the country, Morrison’s words are much-needed food for thought. So much of the conversation around racism hinges on how it makes black people the victim, but how does it make victims out of white people?


A Home For Urban Wanderlusts ~ Haimy Assefa

Evita Robinson knew that she was the first black person her students in Japan had ever come in contact with. 

She once casually pulled a pen out of her thick, curly bun in the middle of a class and it was as if she had made the pen appear out of thin air. Her Japanese students were stunned. The next thing she knew, they were all trying to slip a pen into their straight hair, hoping it would stay. 

Traveling or working overseas alone can be overwhelming, but Robinson welcomes the experience; she sees it as an opportunity to learn and to make a lasting impression. 

“I know that they (my students) will never forget me,” she says. 

Robinson lived in Asia for over a year, teaching English and traveling to more than 20 countries. Though she loved immersing herself in different cultures, she longed for a network of peers who shared her passion for travel. She especially wanted to see more African-Americans abroad. 

Many of the people she met, she says, were only familiar with the stereotypical images of African-Americans they saw in the media. So she set out to remedy that.

It started out as a video Web series. Then Robinson used social media and online platforms to create a network of like-minded people in 2011 and called the group the Nomadness Travel Tribe. 

Robinson describes the group as, “an international urban travel family,” which has grown to more than 10,000 members worldwide. 

Members of the group are from all over the United States, with large concentrations in most major cities, as well as from countries like Brazil, South Korea, Nicaragua and South Africa. Approximately 80% of the group’s membership is African-American women. 

Robinson has made it clear this group is not for the occasional vacationer. Members have wanderlust and make traveling a priority. Besides that, the only prerequisite to joining the tribe is that you must have at least one stamp in your passport. Combined, members have over 30,000 passport stamps. 

Being a part of this international network of travelers has its perks. Members are a part of an exclusive Facebook page and private message threads, where travel deals and rare flight glitches are shared. 

In December, when a filing system error caused an undisclosed number of Etihad Airways flights to be discounted between the United States and Abu Dhabi, tribe members were all over it. 

“We had over 400 tickets bought within the first 24 to 48 hours of that glitch,” Robinson says. “We’ve been having people in and out of the UAE from January to our biggest group that went in October.” 

This aligns perfectly with the group’s unofficial motto: “Book now, plan later.” 

Nomadness’ Instagram is a rolling archive of images of members in some of the most beautiful places on Earth. 

Something happens when people see someone who looks like them doing things they never imagined, Robinson says. 

Images of the group running with the bulls in Spain or playing Holi in India are now accessible to a broad audience in real time, and Robinson believes that has helped encourage more African-Americans to travel abroad. 

Nomadness Travel Tribe and other groups, like Travel Noire, are capturing the attention of young black travelers by the thousands. 

“Black travel and tourism is a $40 billion industry,” African-American Consumer’s 2013 reportstates, “a big business made bigger because African-Americans tend to travel in groups.”

The travel industry “has to recognize that we are bringing not just the demographic to the table,” Robinson says. “We’re also bring our dollars to the table.”