Podcasts! Ideal companions for driving, dishwashing, housecleaning, even gardening — or maybe insomnia companions. Here I have compiled a list of podcasts that cover a range of identities engaging with the world, focusing on Black, LGBTQ+ and disabled perspectives.
I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs lately, primarily by women. There are other posts about these memoirs waiting in the wings, like “memoirs about mental illness,” but for now I want to focus on three excellent memoirs written by amazing, inspiring Black women.
Black and white graphic illustrations guide us along the streets of Chicago as Roger, the narrator of Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty tells us this story. Roger knew of Yummy, aka Robert, the nickname being an indication of Robert’s love for sweets. While he was short in stature and looked innocent, Yummy belonged to the Black Disciples, a gang that ruled the Chicago streets. Seeking their approval, Yummy fired several shots which killed fourteen year old Shavon Dean, an aspiring hairdresser that everyone knew, even Yummy. Yummy immediately fled, his image plastered on television screens for the world to see.
Last year, a patron named Clayton Adams showed me an amazing story that taught me a lot about injustice, resiliency, and hope. It began with trust, followed by deception and injustice, and ends with justice and reunion. And the fact that this story happened at all and that we can go out and read or watch it (I encourage you to do both) is what ultimately gives me hope that we will progress. This story is called Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.
In his 2016 collection of essays, Another Day in the Death of America, award-winning journalist Gary Younge takes on the high death rates of young people in America. As a parent, he has become acutely aware of, and troubled by, the statistics surrounding the gun-related fates met by an average of seven American children per day. Here, he offers the reader a somber snapshot comprised of ten deaths that occurred over a single twenty-four hour period: November 23rd, 2013.
Widely regarded as an influential work of literature, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time gives voice to the personal nature of injustice while sounding an alarm about the intensity of race relations in the United States. Although it has been 54 years since its publication, Baldwin’s work has particular urgency and resonance in the aftermath of the murders of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland. Given the current political climate in the United States, The Fire Next Time is especially relevant.
It’s also heartening to see that after her snub last year the Academy realized that it had a diversity problem; this year (for the first time) there are people of color nominated in every major acting category and in the director’s category. This is likely the result of a diversified voting pool this year which leads to a more diverse selection of nominees. While this is certainly progress, there still has never been a female Black director nominated for an Oscar. So, instead of focusing on this year’s nominees (love you, Moonlight) I’m going to focus on a handful of films directed by African-American women that you should definitely seek out.
Ecofeminists believe that nature and culture are intrinsically linked, and that the environmental harm we’re doing to our planet parallels the harm oppressive cultures do to marginalized groups like women and people of color. The word “ecofeminist” is itself a compound of “ecology” and “feminist.” In practice, it is an intersectional, multidimensional approach to social justice that recognizes we are linked to the land and our environments. Unsurprisingly, many women of color have written both novels and nonfiction books with strong ecofeminist themes; here are just a few of them.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh staff and board members recommend these must read books that celebrate African American authors, culture and history.
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given out yearly to “outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” Since 1970, the award named for Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife has honored such authors as Toni Morrison, Sharon Draper, and Walter Dean Myers. Although the books receiving the award are written for a young audience, many of them are also great reads for adults. Take a look at some of these winning titles.