ICYMI: The Last Month in Black Writing (5/8 – 6/4)

Black Words Matter: Poems by Baltimore Students took place 2 weeks after the death of Freddie Gray, allowing students space to write about police violence and racism. (The work of four students is shared at the link.)

– Morgan Jerkins wrote about re-reading Claudia Rankin’s Citizen: An American Lyric in the wake of #BaltimoreRising.

Roxane Gay took on New York Times critic Janet Maslin’s summer reading list, which featured entirely white authors (or, as Jason Parham put it, which reached “peak caucacity“). In response to Maslin’s list, several sites published lists of novels by authors of color that you could also read this summer: check them out at The Root, The Grio, and Book Riot. 

– Relatedly, here’s what’s going on with #WeNeedDiverseBooks a year after the overwhelming whiteness of BookCon spawned the campaign – and here are 25 books by authors of color that were featured at BookExpo 2015.

Gay also wrote about how thrilled she was that Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan has a new novel, China Rich Girlfriend, out soon.

Al Letson wrote about the need for diverse voices (literally) in public radio for Transom, re-published at NPR.

– Troy L. Wiggins wrote about why he read books only by black men in May.

– The Humans of New York Twitter account has had some fantastic entries related to black writing recently: check out two of the best here and here.

– Tuckson Health Connections and the Howard University Department of English announced the winners of the “Healing Stories Creative Writing Contest,” a contest that allows communities of color to talk about their experiences of health and community.

– Genesis Mendoza shared “13 Young Black Poets You Should Know,” complete with poem recommendations for each specific poet.

– First Lady Michelle Obama gave a commencement speech at Tuskegee University in which she talked frankly about her own experiences with racism, particularly since her husband became President.

Speaking of President Obama, his presidential library is set for Chicago.

– In other news about the President and First Lady, a film about the Obamas’ first date, called Southside with You, is in development.

– In more black film news, Queen Latifah gave a fantastic interview about playing Bessie Smith in HBO’s Bessie.

Biracial author Mat Johnson talks with NPR about growing up “mulatto” and his new novel Loving Day (also enthusiastically recommended on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast).

From Planet Money by way of NPR’s CodeSwitch, a fascinating look at Tom Burrell, who helped change the way that advertisers marketed to black audiences.

– Slate Academy debuted The History of American Slavery, featuring scholarship from Jamelle Bouie, Rebecca Onion, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  The academy features podcasts, articles, book excerpts, and online “class meetings” for those who enroll.

– NPR featured a Kickstarter-funded children’s book about a queer black boy who dreams of going to space, Kendrick Daye and Myles E. Johnson’s Large Fears.

– Suggestions for future reading if you loved Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.

And a few older pieces we missed before:

– Poet and teacher Clint Smith gave a moving TEDTalk on “How to Raise a Black Son in America.”

– Saeed Jones, literary editor at Buzzfeed, wrote about navigating mostly white literary spaces in “Self-Portrait of the Artist as Ungrateful Black Writer.”

Paramount Studios is sending copies of Selma to every high school in the U.S.