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Excerpt from: “The Buck, the Black, and the Existential Hero: Refiguring the Black Male Literary Canon, 1850 to Present”

“His lip is slightly curled, like a coiled spring or the haunches of a cat watching and ready to launch on a small and insignificant field mouse in some middle-class suburban backyard, just below an open kitchen window and in a bed of freshly laid flowers, except his lip was poised to let loose the slow leak of a small and clever phrase, rather than inhale an insignificant pest. Nevertheless, he and the coil and the cat were on the verge of something they thought monumental but were each ridding the world of something it never wanted (to begin with)—a mouse, another clever phrase, more relief of excess tension.

…This man did not realize that when one wakes up in the morning or releases a curled-lipped claim of wit or justice, what can happen in the span of the day. He did not think that like the field mouse leaving its nest, an anxious spring releasing its exertion, or a cat thrusting itself through an open window, that one’s life is but a series of chance occurrences. Rather, this man thought of the world as a scripted rehearsal of stimuli and response, actor and audience, and had become reckless in his very belief in the power of cleverness or the repose of moral outrage to manipulate the actors and actions on the stage. He imagined a landscape where there was (yes!) moral outrage but also manipulation, and he imagined that he, too, could raise children to attend college, move out to the suburbs, and take care of a wife who could bake pies and sit them in an opened window, just above innocuous pests and their own small world of wonder and danger, that he could be a Great Baron of this land—albeit not of an entire country or continent but the thirty by sixty square feet of his own backyard!—unaware that he was not hunting as the cat had done but was being hunted as the equally inane pest.”

The Buck is a beginning statement, not of this particular man’s life but of how to begin to think and write about him, how this man’s existence challenges traditional concepts, traditional language forms, and storytelling to reflect the diversity and complexity, contradiction and fluidity, that this man himself is and represents . . .

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Four Great Cookbooks for Afro-Vegans & Vegetarians

If you’re anything like me, the hardest part about permanently committing to a vegetarian lifestyle is giving up favorite foods – American soul food, Caribbean cuisines, and African dishes.  Sure, I can load up on collard greens (sans the meat flavoring) and sweet potato souffle, but there are so many other dishes I gave up because I don’t know how to prepare them without using meat. 

In my struggle to remain a vegetarian and (once) attempt a vegan diet, I’ve fallen short many times. But recently I found a few great books to help me in my journey. I hope that sharing my finds may help our readers who have similar goals. We hope this list is useful and please don’t be shy about sharing you recommendations or tips with us!  It takes a village to raise a vegan/vegetarian 🙂


 1) The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy by Aya Ibomu

This book is more than just a cookbook, it’s a lifestyle guide to help new vegans learn where to shop, how to plan meals, understand restaurant menus and simply eat healthy.  This is a must-read for those even considering a dietary change.


 2) Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry

Soul food doesn’t have to be greasy and loaded with meat. It can be fresh, healthy and also taste amazing. This wonderful cookbook will help you think outside of the box and eat flavorful comfort food without compromising your health and nutrition goals.


 3) Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry

Another vegan cookbook by acclaimed Afro-Vegan Bryant Terry.  Here you will find recipes from Africa and the Diaspora with a creative and delicious vegan twist. This is a great book to add to your culinary rotation if you’re getting bored with traditional American vegan recipes.


 4) Vegetarian Soulfood Cookbook: A Wonderful Medley of Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw Recipes Inspired by the Southern Tradition by Dawn Marie Daniels and Imar Hutchins

This cookbook will convince any nonbeliever that you can maintain the same delicious soul food flavors you grew up eating without using meat or unhealthy ingredients. The cheese grits and sweet potatoe pie recipes are my favorite but there are so many recipes here I am itching to try.

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Stories of Reconciliation: The Genocide in Rwanda (20 Years Later)

April marks 20 year’s since the Rwandan Genocide in which an estimated 1 million Rwandans (mostly Tsutsi) were murdered in a four month period.  In remembrance of this atrocity, the New York Times released an article “Portraits of Reconciliation”, containing photos and stories of perpetrators and victims who are attempting to regain peace, forgive, and be forgiven.  The photos and stories are haunting but a powerful example of the strength and resilience of which human beings are capable.  This is a must read:

Also check out this compelling short film entitled “Let The Devil Sleep” by Alan Whelan, Eoghan Rice and Elena Hermosa that documents four haunting stories of reconciliation 

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Traveling While Black


I’m leaving on the next plane/I don’t know when I’ll be back again…

–Yasiin Bey, “Travellin’ Man’

We are headed to France for the week. For me it will be a working vacation; for her, it will be a working vacation, but of a different sort. While I will be attending a philosophy conference, she will be teleworking from abroad. This trip, and its working significance for both of us has me reflecting back on a conversation we had once about the idea of writing a travel guide, “traveling while black.”

This idea came about after we discussed our separate experiences abroad and juxtaposed that with discussions we have had with our peers.  The great joy many white Americans take in traveling, generally, and especially traveling ‘home’ to the European continent is often not met with the same fervor of excitement for black Americans. And, when it is, the joy is an imagined space of ‘seeing the world’, a joy (that is) met, frequently, with the reality of an ambiguous ambivalence that only the term ‘history’ can begin to describe. This is the ‘history’ that often the notion of ‘travel’ and the meaning of ‘traveling’ is understood alongside that of being received abroad, not solely as American, but as an American of a special sort. There is often a state of indecision as to how you might be traveling; the often invisibility within the hyper-visibility of tourism; and, then, the experience of historical discontinuity of what it means to be black and traveling, freely amongst the world. James Baldwin once noted in his essay, “Stranger in the Village” such an ambiguous ambivalence of the meaning of history and ‘traveling while black’. He wrote, “the cathedral of Chartes says something to them which it cannot say to me.”

I hope to discover something new during this trip  but I, at the same time, discover that I am discovered in this world.  I take solace, however, in that I will not be alone; and that I will be ‘traveling’ with someone who is also discovering the world anew and also ‘traveling while black’.


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Re-Blog: Love It or Hate It

Thanks to @lifeofafemalebibliophile for posting these questions!

Check out her link below:

1. Biggest literary let-down?

– Toni Morrison’s long awaited comeback: Love, A Mercy, and Home 😦

2. Books that you liked that other people hated?

  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett

3. Best Quotes?

Not sure if these are my absolute favorites, but the below (afro-lit) quotes have been on my mind lately:

“This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles”- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun

“Love is like the rain . . . if you’re not careful it will drown you.” – Edwidge, Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory

“Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.” – Toni Morrison, Jazz

4. Worst Quotes?

Stumped on this one . . . sorry!

5. Books you didn’t finish?

I simply could not get into it…

    • The Kite Runner

***ducks for cover***

6. What book have you read the most times?

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (3 times . . . and it’s better each time)

7. Series where the first book was amazing but went downhill from there?

I was crazy about the Left Behind series when I was in high school.  I read the first four and then abandoned the brand :-(.  The made-for-tv movies are even worse.


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The 2013 Golden Baobab Prizes Longlist Announced

Shoutout to KinnaReads for posting great content. Check out this year’s best in African Children’s literature:

Kinna Reads

Golden Baobab Longlist

The longlist for the 5th Golden Baobab Prizes were announced on August 30th, 2013.

Nanama B. Acheampong, coordinator of the Golden Baobab Prizes says,

“Golden Baobab is really excited about this year’s stories and we are looking forward to growing further by publishing a collection of these amazing stories we have received. We are currently looking to partner with corporations that share in our vision to bring these stories to the doorsteps of African children everywhere.”

So, if you know of companies that are interested in stories for African children, please do pass along the name of Golden Baobab.

The shortlist and the winners will be announced on October 30th and November 13th respectively.

Now to the longlist.  (Summaries of longlisted stories and biographies of writers are available on the Golden Baobab Website):


Longlist for the Picture Book Prize

Carol Gachiengo – Grandma Mimo’s Breakfast (Kenya)

Mandy Collins…

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