ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (3/19-3/25)

On Thursday, March 24th, Make it Funky V: Reflections on Kendrick Lamar was held at Lawrence Arts Center, sponsored by the department of African and African American Studies at KU. The purpose of The Make it Funky series is to explore connections between popular music and black writers. Sequoia Maner of the University of Texas at Austin was the keynote speaker and spoke on the influence of Kendrick Lamar’s music on African American culture. Stay tuned for our recap!

In honor of Women’s History Month, check out this list of poems celebrating women’s history and women’s rights compiled by the Poetry Foundation!

Watch the powerful poem “History Reconsidered” by Clint Smith III. Smith’s poem seeks to revise history by offering the true story.

Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke out on the backlash behind the casting of Zoe Saldana to play Nina Simone in an upcoming film. The light-skinned Saldana was darkened to play Nina, conjuring minstrel imagery. Coates acknowledged Nina had what were dubbed “flaws,” the nappy hair and big lips, and yet she was able to overcome these “flaws” to become the goddess she was. To acknowledge this pain, Coates said, “would mean giving an opportunity to someone who’s actively experienced the kind of pain that plagued Simone.”

Wiley Hall III of the New York Times reviewed The Family Tree by Karen Branan. Branan’s novel explores a family secret, a hanging that the narrator’s grandmother witnessed as a child. She then spends the rest of the novel attempting to piece together the family’s history of secrets. Wall states, the dialogue of this story sounds “all too familiar: blacks insisting, in effect, that ‘Negro lives matter’ and whites responding, ‘Whatever can you mean?'”