400 Soulsby Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain: “A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present–edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.” Click here to sign up for a virtual reading and discussion with the editors and some contributors.
13 Tiny Desk Concerts by Black Artists: Throughout the month, NPR’s “Tiny Desk” series is hosting an amazing lineup of virtual concerts by black artists of various genres, featuring old standbys like Wynton Marsalis as well as some up-and-coming, soon-to-be stars you definitely want to know about.
I hope you’re able to find time to celebrate this month, as well as to reflect on why we still need a Black History Month and what steps we can take to end racism in this country. I know it’s daunting, but as my favorite singer, Bille Holiday, said, “The difficult I will do right now. The impossible will take a little while.”
I am so excited to share The Brooklyn Players Reading Society’s new music with you! Come back tomorrow to hear One Day, our new EP, and follow along all week as we share a little story about each song every day.
This has to change. Cops have to stop murdering black people. It’s not a cop’s job to kill anyone, period. It just isn’t. These bullshit excuses they give are atrocious. It’s simple: STOP KILLING BLACK PEOPLE.
What will it take for white people to wake up, to get over themselves enough to see the terror our black neighbors live in, to accept that it is our job as white people to do something to change this?
I am so fed up. I don’t know what to do. I’ll keep diving into my own antiracism work, and I’ll keep sharing ways for you to do the work, too, but sometimes it feels like I’m yelling into a void while black people keep dying. How much yelling will it take?
I am thrilled to announce that in just two short weeks, my musical duo The Brooklyn Players Reading Society will be releasing One Day, a new EP recorded with Salmak Khaledi over at Magnetic Pink Studios. Be sure to follow The BPRS on all the socials and stay tuned to thebprs.com to be the first to hear our new tunes!
This month marks 18 years living in the Northeast, 13 of them in Brooklyn. Before that I spent 18 years in KY. And now, in the same month in which I crossed this personal threshold of an equal number of years here as there, I find myself packing up my apartment and moving back to Middle America because Dave and I can no longer afford the rent.
Covid did the unthinkable: it shut down New York City’s entertainment and nightlife industry. Dave, like so many others, is out of work indefinitely. It’s a huge loss, not just of income but of a whole community.
But get this – my sister, Kelly, bought the house next door to my sibling, Max, then invited us to spend the upcoming year in one big Covid family compound. Four adults (aka my three moms and a Dave), four kids, two dogs, and one cat, doing our best to make it through this pandemic, this curse/gift of remote school and virtual offices, this country’s blatant racism, this frightening election season, this even more frightening climate crisis, together.
When I first left for college in Boston, I never would have guessed that I would fall in love with the Northeast, that I would come to identify myself as a New Yorker, as a part of the city, the city a part of me. It is hard to leave; there is sadness to be felt. But I am also very excited. Covid has pushed me into a place I never would have imagined. It’s scary and beautiful and full of magic. I am so grateful to have landed like this.
Will we return to a life in Brooklyn? I hope so. But these days, who knows what the future will bring. I’m still setting goals and dreaming dreams, but I’m not committing myself to any of them. Truth is, we never knew – and will never know – what the future holds for us. We humans built a society and made plans that gave us a false sense of control, of power, of certainty. We trusted it would continue despite how shaky, broken, and inherently oppressive it all is. Covid has changed me. It has changed us all. I would never choose any of this, but now that it’s here, I want to be changed by it.
I might not know where I’ll be living, what I’ll be doing, or what our country will even look like in a year from now, but what I do know is that I will never stop trying to bring a little more peace, justice, and joy into this existence. Too many people, especially people of color and immigrants, are not landing like my family is. Instead they are being murdered by police. They are being beaten and thrown into cages by ICE. They are being told that their lives don’t matter as much as the walls of their neighbors’ houses. They are being harassed by landlords, forcing them to choose between paying for food or paying for rent. There is no going back. And why would we? Our country was founded upon genocide and built upon slavery. All of its systems are rooted in white supremacy and the exploitation of labor. Our entire world is burning, literally and metaphorically.
It’s organizations like Pen Parentis that keep hope alive in us writerparents, even during these dark and exhausting times. Not only do they provide this fellowship every year, but they also host monthly literary salons, weekly accountability meet-ups, and multiple other community-building events, all centered around inspiring, motivating, and celebrating parents who just want to keep writing but have so much standing between them and their words. Learn more about their work, history, and future events by visiting their website at penparentis.org and/or following them on Instagram: @PenParentis and Twitter: @PenParentis.
And speaking of events, stay tuned for details on a special Zoom salon this fall in which I’ll be reading my prize-winning story!