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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Author Isabel Wilkerson On Past And Present: “Our Current Divisions Are Neither New Nor Surprising”

Journalist Isabel Wilkerson keeps her readers connected to history.   During the summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Wilkerson gave context to swimmer Simone Manuel's historic gold medal by bringing forward the long history of blacks being barred from public pools and beaches -- and she did it in a mere 300 words. Likewise, when Clevelanders rejoiced over their first NBA championship, Wilkerson pointed out the triumph rested on LeBron James being a child of the Great Migration. She regularly uses her Facebook page to profile politicians, activists and entertainers whose ascension in popular culture lies in the Great Migration  -- the mass exodus of six million African-Americans between 1910-1970 from the rural South to all corners of the United States.   Isabel... Read More →

In Jacqueline Woodson’s World, The Hard Conversations Come Easy

Karen R. Long contributed to the reporting. Every evening in her four-story Brooklyn townhouse, author Jacqueline Woodson and her partner gather their family around for a meal and a ritual: Each person shares one act of kindness they've given that day -- and one way kindness found its way back to them.  Celebrated for Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn, Woodson, 53, writes literature with family at its core.  Each Kindness, her 2012 picture book, considers two schoolgirls and a missed chance at friendship. "How does one walk through this world and be kind without even giving it a second thought?" Woodson said she wondered as she wrote the work. With wit and warmth and a bit of edge, Woodson told a packed auditorium in Beachwood, Ohio, how she thinks on the page and in person... Read More →

A Literary President: Obama Reflects On The Books That Gave Him Stamina And Resolve

President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shop at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., back in 2014. Official White House photo by Pete SouzaLate at night and through eight grueling years, literature helped sustain the outgoing president of the United States. In a wide-ranging interview with New York Times chief book critic Michiko Kakutani, Barack Obama reflected on the centrality of reading and the titles that have given him insight and solace, particularly in fiction.  He mentions just completing Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad" and putting Maxine Hong Kingston's "The Woman Warrior" on the Kindle of his older daughter Malia. The conversation shows a deeply reflective man in the midst of shaping his second act. At 55, he leaves the White House a... Read More →

“Hidden Figures” Is Getting A Lot Of Hollywood Buzz, But Don’t Forget About The Book

Type "scientist" into Google and what images do you find? As author Margot Lee Shetterly would describe it, the results are pretty pale. They are "mostly male. Usually white." But the Virginia writer knew this convention to be false. She grew up surrounded by blacks in STEM. Her father spent 40 years working in NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Her aunts and uncles overwhelmingly made their way into engineering and technology. To Shetterly, "the face of science was brown like mine."  It makes sense, then, that her first book, "Hidden Figures," was sparked by a visit home, when her father casually mentioned that her former Sunday school teacher, Kathleen Land, worked for NASA as a mathematician. Shetterly, 47, followed that thread and spent the next several years... Read More →

“Racism Does Not Die Easily”: Reflections On Parallels Between The Japanese And Muslim Experience In America

by Matthew Hashiguchi, documentary filmmaker Over the past year, I’ve been asked many times about the correlation between Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans.I recently completed a documentary film, Good Luck Soup, which chronicles my family’s experience in the decades after the World War II Internment Camps. Many suggest that the Japanese American experience of the 1940s mirrors the Muslim American experience of today. While there are similarities, the starkest isn’t between Muslims and Japanese Americans, rather, it’s between the American public of the 40s and today. Both periods used fear to rationalize crude, racist and hateful gut reactions towards people who are not considered "American" because of how they look, pray and culturally associate.After the Berlin attack... Read More →

Let These Books — From Poetry To The Political — Kick Off Your 2017 Reading List

How does one structure a year in reading?The New York Times published the answers of 47 writers and artists who reflected on the books they chose over the past year. Their responses create a fascinating skein of reading and thinking, and include essays from four Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recipients. The entire conversation, which weaves from basketball hall-of-famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to filmmaker Ava DuVernay to former House speaker Newt Gingrich to author Maxine Hong Kingston, is enlivening, a hopeful way to face into a new year.Praise for “The Underground Railroad,” the stupendous fall novel from Anisfield-Wolf winner Colson Whitehead, threads through these reflections. Salman Rushdie read it; so did the YA-writer John Green, Anne Tyler and Judd Apatow.Maxine Hong Kingston, who... Read More →
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