Black Girls are From the Future Podcast and Book Club

BGFTF Book Club

I am so excited to announce that the #Blackgirlsarefromthefuture podcast and book club launches this week.

The first book that we will be reading will be “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Ms. Zora Neal Hurston. I started rereading it on Friday evening and I was able to locate new connections that I have never seen before.

For the podcast I will be posting some questions that I am thinking about as I read the books, that can help you guide your reading as well. Below I have the page numbers for the books.

BGFTF PODCAST_MEME

Book Club Structure

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

May 6th 1-115

May 20th 116-196

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

June 3rd pages 1-116

June 17th 116-265

The Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

July 1st, 1-162

July 15th, 129-251

Third Girl from the Left by Martha Southgate

August 5th 1-124

August 19th, 125-268

For the podcasts we will read one half of each book, each month for the first podcast and then finish up the book for the second podcast. I have books selected for May, June, July and August, but there isn’t a selection for September yet.

I look forward to growing our community. I certainly look forward to hearing from you.

Wings up.

~R

What are you reading right now?

Who is your favorite Black women author who is underrated?

How many other book clubs are you a part of ?

On McLean Greaves and the Death of Young Black Geniuses

Black Genius and Black Death

This post is dedicated to Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown and the Black Girl Geniuses @ SOLHOT. I Love you all Very much for Seeing me and for Loving who you See. We Levitate Bandcamp. Poppin’.

My dissertation is about how Black women create in the face of death. Both historically and in the contemporary moment, so at any given moment during the day or night my mind wanders towards a Black woman artist, the choices that she makes, whether or not she can sustain herself, many of the women who have died early.

I think this is also the reason why I am drawn to the lives of Black women athletes. While they may not die early per se, there is a way in which their lives, their work, their toiling often for long hours outside of the limelight only to appear  like an “overnight”  success is a process that I find myself identifying with.

Which brings me to two weeks ago. I was in a cab, on the way home and I saw a tweet citing one of my tweets saying McLean Greaves, RIP citing the essay that I wrote about him as a fitting tribute.

A writer

will

immortalize

you.

I was like “there is no way on God’s green earth that I am learning about his death in this fashion.” I was.

The cab driver heard by gasp and said “do you still want to go home”, I hesitated but I had work to do, so I continued home. But the life and death of Greaves has been on my mind for the last three weeks.

You see, Greaves was a Black man working on a start-up in Bed-Stuy nearly 20 years ago focused on Urban Black and Brown communities in Brooklyn. So looking at his life, and his work we can see how the current story about the intersection of venture capital, Black coding schools, coding schools for women, the leaky pipeline in Silicon Valley, and the lack of POC ownership of social media platforms is telling.

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote about him:

If you start with Greaves you get a different story.

The story that you get is that urban Black and Latino, and Afro Latino people have a long history of using the internet to find one another and they have ALWAYS been interested in ownership. Access to capital, and a team? Well, that is another question.

See Black Planet. See the history of Cafe Los Negros. See Peep.com.

Now, if you read the post, you will see that I learned about Greaves while writing my own book three years ago, which makes me wonder how many more folks are in the archives who have done similar work; folks we are unaware of.

His death.

He was young. I can’t help but think of how many young, creative Black men and women die early, when so much of their lives are bound up in giving life.

Live givers.

Early deaths.

There is a part of me that is coming to the conclusion that even when we ARE from the future we will be rendered invisible. I am so happy that I was able to find him, his work and that he read this before he transitioned a few weeks back.

1. Have you ever thought about the irony of escaping the hood only to die young or early as a creative?

2. Is being creative overrated, in a culture where much of the social media noise is focused on consuming celebrity low points/grief?

3. Would the conversation around coding schools change if we started with Greaves, and his desire to create a start-up nearly twenty years ago? What if the focus were ownership schools rather than coding schools? We’d be talking about a lot more money? No?

Black Women, Creativity and Death: Rethinking My Old Ideas

A few years ago I wrote a post about Ms. Kathleen Collins, and how Black women who run from their genius may make themselves sick.

I don’t think that I agree with that anymore.

In fact I have become more invested in thinking about and working my way through how Black women create in the face of sickness, illness and death.

Right now, three Black women I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE are catching health hell. Like in the hospital, chemotherapy, in the house recovering from surgery, invitro hell.

And I am terrified because I know we die early.

Kathleen Collins.

June Jordan.

Audre Lorde.

Toni Cade Bambara.

Stephanie Camp.

Karyn Washington.

Titi Branch.

Thea St. Omer.

And on, and on and fucking on.

So everyday I am thinking about the best way to be a sister friend to them, to check on them, to see where their head is at, to see how they are functioning, to offer what I have the bandwidth to offer that day and be cool with it.

You see, if you know me afk, you know that I will talk over you and interrupt you 20 times in a conversation. But, I am also a healer, and maybe one of the best listeners you will ever meet. I pay attention to myself, which gives me space to pay attention to others.

With that being said, I am not sure if running from our genius makes us sick. I think that being Black, and girl, in a culture that is premised on the hatred of both Black people and women may be what makes us sick.

Now, do I think that there is a consequence for running away from that creative spark?

Always.

But power maps onto the bodies of Black women in very clear ways. In ways that kill us, and folks will be asking “Oh what happened to so and so, she just up and died?” As if it weren’t a pattern.

I think I am coming to the conclusion that in life,  death is always just right there, and it is the work to figure out HOW to do the work despite that dark lurker.

Do you think about the conditions under which Black women create art?

Who is your current favorite Black woman artist and why?

 

On My New Book

I am always writing.

I always have new book ideas.

Right now I have three in outline form that I have been working on since 2013 and 2014 respectively.

However, and one will be a mainstream hit BECAUSE of the problem it solves. But something has been nagging at me.

Because I am TEACHING Black history now as a Black feminist, because people are USED to buying digital books and because I reminded myself that Zane sold 108K copies at 22K a piece, and because of my LOVE of fancy bathroom back splashes and a desire to move my father closer to me, I have been thinking what can I write that:

  • 1. Feels authentic, because you know I ain’t gonna lie Craig.
  • 2. Stacks my chips, because, I want my Dad closer, OR I need to be able to see him regularly without it being  a financial burden.
  • 3. I need to grow bigger than the LOVELY, BEAUTIFUL audience that I have built.
  • 4. I work hard, and hard work is dignifying. But you know what gina, I am not put her to grind my Black ass to dust working. I am not. Other people may have that voice in their spirit that says that. But I don’t.
  • I need to be able to demonstrate to myself that I can stack my coins, write what feels authentic to me, center Black people, acknowledge and mark White people who have access to economic and cultural institutional levers,  be ready to receive mainstream media attention, and not lose my fucking mind.

 

I mean, look at this shit:

I need to be able to demonstrate to myself that I can stack my coins, write what feels authentic to me, center Black people, acknowledge and mark White people who have access to economic and cultural institutional levers,  be ready to receive mainstream media attention, and not lose my fucking mind.

How Sway, how?

So, today I woke up and the idea hit me. And holy shit is it a doozy. It allows me to have contemporary conversations, it allows me bring in some essays that I am writing for another project, and it allows me to assert my voice into contemporary conversations about race, social justice, Black women, #BlackGirlDeath etc. And because I am mastering academic media marketing and distribution I am going to be writing it with an eye toward broadening my purchasing community to include, OFF THE BACK, Black book clubs, and colleges, universities and libraries. But doing so in a way that feels authentic to me.

I am a Black feminist who Loves to stack my chips. Why?

Life has shown me over and over again, that my willingness to do so means that I can manage my life and my life’s emergencies better AND I can be there for my family and their lives too. And if I don’t help for emergencies…I can do things that are like sugar on top.

I can see the cover of the book ya’ll and it will be a force in national converstion’s on race in 2016.

God would not have put it on my heart if I wasn’t ready. And honestly I may not need to get ready. I may just need to know that God will help me no matter what happens.

 

Girl.

Are you writing anything?

If you were reading a book about being black right now in 2015, what would you want it to address in order for it to feel whole to you?

I.

LOVE.

Ya’ll. Without you, I wouldn’t believe that any of this is possible.

~ R

 

 

For My Grandmother

When in doubt, if you have an question, look to you ancestors first for answers.

I think we waste a lot of time, fiddling around, instead of exploring the answers  already set forth by the folks came before us.

When we do this, I think we will have the future that we already have and need, the future that we come from.

——————————

Today is my grandmothers birthday, and told myself last year that I would honor her. She was a cold piece of work of a Black woman from Dallas, Texas. Afraid of no human being.   Family lore says that she once slapped an Oakland police office for being disrespectful to her. She wrote her own habeas corpus in order to have herself RELEASED from jail after my grandfather put her there. And she could read you in your bone marrow both when she had sight and after my grandfather blinded her; her ability to read had nothing to do with her eyes. Like me.

When people compliment me on Black girls are from the future, or the book or anything, I don’t shirk. Why? Because I know quite honestly that I have the life that my grandmother wasn’t allowed to have. My work is hers.

She is a genius, like so many Black women born in the 1940’s who made due with what she had. I get my tenacity, wit and perhaps my comfort with language from her.

Grandmomma, thank you for my life, I am glad you were able to live with me for that short period when I was eight years old. I always think about the conditions under which you lived your life when I think about giving up on my creative projects. I am honored to be your little bear.

You’re my favorite Libra.

Love,

Renina