Race

My Idol Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Some people idolize rock stars, feel faint at the sight of famous actors and even fetishize politicians.  My crush is a little more low key but no less awe inducing in my humble opinion, and that's the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie.  Every speech or interview Adichie gives strikes a deep chord and every book speaks to me on a visceral level. Our journeys as west Africans living between three continents - Europe, America, Africa, or Afropolitans, have many similarities and inform our opinions on so much. She has the ability to express what I'm feeling in the most intellectual, articulate yet deceptively simple way. 

A in-depth New Yorker piece on Adichie kept me up way past my bedtime last night as I devoured every word and nodded and smiled in appreciation and agreement. As an African abroad, navigating race and identity on a daily basis is no small feat. A highly recommended read.

 Photograph by Pari Dukovic for The New Yorker

Photograph by Pari Dukovic for The New Yorker

The Stories We Tell Our Children

Women, Publishing & Diversity

Last night I moderated an excellent panel with Jamia Wilson, executive director and publisher of the Feminist Press, and artist, writer, educator Elise Peterson, about race and representation in storytelling. Over 80% of characters in children’s books are white, and in 2016, black, latinx and Native American authors combined wrote just 6% of all new children’s books. So how do we ensure all our kids are exposed to diverse literature that broadens their worldview?

Well, there are systemic changes that need to happen within the publishing industry. But in the meantime, there are also active steps we can all take in our daily lives, such as supporting existing writers of color, donating diverse books to our schools and youth organizations, becoming writers ourselves and even creating simple homemade storybooks for our kids. Where there’s a lack, sometimes the best solution is to start by plugging the gap ourselves rather than waiting for the system to change. 

Jamia Wilson, Dee Poku, Elise Peterson

Let's Keep Telling Our Own Stories

It was an honor to interview filmmaker Vance Ford last night for the British Academy of Film & Television (BAFTA). In 1992, 22 days prior to the acquittal in the Rodney King case, Ford's brother William, an unarmed young schoolteacher was shot in cold blood. His attacker was then acquitted by an all white Grand Jury. It's sad to see how little has changed. Ford's documentary about the case and its aftermath, Strong Island, won the Special Jury Documentary prize at Sundance and is released by Netflix next month. We have to keep telling these stories.

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