Monday, February 16, 2009

New ... Chasing Summer - Easy Love ( Memphis Live )

. . . and one day she just does it.

Red goes into work, gathers her things and walks out. No clear back up plan. No financial nest egg to speak of. Nothing more than her general disdain for conformity and insatiable desire to fulfill her lifelong dream. Red leaves her Chicago home to see what the rest of the world has to offer. She packs up her car and heads out on an impromptu “tour”

Red Summer is an educator, a mother, a foster-mother, a
grandmother, an author, a publisher, a public speaker, a recording
artist, an activist, an entrepreneur, a full-time touring artist, a
lesbian and a Muslim. This all makes her an impossible fit for the
standard-sized box, and ordinarily, none of these things would seem to
work together. But, Red Summer is not an ordinary woman.

Chasing Summer is a virtual shotgun ride on a personal journey that is sure to
be as elaborate as Red Summer herself. Her love for poetry and music
makes it an artistic journey. While her passion for history, travel and
culture drives a spiritual mission to overcome the past and redefine
the future. All the while, Red’s intricate love and colorful family
life convey her journey with generous detail. ~ Two Fingers Press/Anthology Photoplays

Chasing Summer- Memphis Live is the first of many short documentaries featuring this fiercely talented poet known as "Red," by adoring friends and fans. This is a fabulous, "feel good," show that is sure to lift your spirits. Just take a few minutes to check it out and leave a comment.

Click the "green" link below to view the Pilot Episode on Current TV.
Chasing Summer, Memphis - Easy Love

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Obama Means To Me

New from the author of The N Word, Jabari Asim brings us another thought-provoking observation on culture and our society.

What Obama Means
...for Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future

by Jabari Asim

"This is our moment. This is our time," Barack Obama declared in his victory speech on November 4, 2008. Such a moment is an opportunity to explore who we are, where we've been, and what the emergence of a leader like Obama can tell us about our culture, our politics, and our future. In What Obama Means, Jabari Asim, author of the acclaimed The N Word, provides the context needed to understand what the Obama presidency means to Americans of all backgrounds." -What Obama Means

On the morning of the inauguration it was snowing here in Chicago. The snow flakes were so crisp and white, not that they aren't usually, it's just that they seemed to be beaming with a spectacular brightness never before seen. I watched as they lightly, gently trickled down from the heavens, and blanketed the rooftops. The air was different. It was almost as if I could breathe a little better. And though I had only an hour before having to leave for work, I made myself a breakfast of champions. I mean I scrambled eggs, fried turkey bacon, made waffles and prepared my favorite green tea. This was my time for reflection and celebration.

The title of the book, "What Obama Means," got me to thinking about what our new president really means to me. Among so many other positive things, President Barack Obama means peace, courage, strength, leadership and great love. Forest Whitaker said it best this morning on Oprah. He said, "I feel like I've walked into a new age. I feel like I've walked into a new time." I am experiencing an awakening in this new era of Obama- what a feeling!

I have always held dear to my heart the call to give freely to others. Some years ago, I made a commitment to be a force in the world and joined Women for Women International as a sponsor to destitute women living in the Congo. Early last year, due to a matter of ill circumstance in my life, I faltered on that commitment. But yesterday, while driving to work, tears streaming down my cheeks as I listened to Aretha Franklin sing, "My Country Tis A Thee," I renewed my promise to be of service to humanity- be it in the form of money, information or a helping hand, it all counts.

Today, if you haven't already, I encourage you to take advantage of this magical moment happening in our time to embrace the spirit of change. Determine what causes are dear to your hearts and discover ways in which you are going to make a difference.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do African-American Readers Prefer Urban Lit?

In a discussion that I contributed to near the end of December on, a gentleman made a comment that disturbed me to no end. He said, "Urban [lit] novels have replaced all types of reading. They have become the alternative to any higher-level reading selections in the African-American community." Is he saying that "Stories From The Hood" have become "THE ALTERNATIVE" to any other works of literature?!? I couldn't disagree with him more.

He added, "New age forms of writing have caused us to forget the traditional art forms and artists, such as Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez or Langston Hughes." Now, he's got a point. I don't know many people who are checking for Paul Lawrence Dunbar these days, but as far as Giovanni, Sanchez and Hughes are concerned, they still rank fairly high on my reading list.

What is most unsettling is that he is not alone in his thinking. I have come across several other readers/writers who feel the same way that he does. And, let me not forget to mention that sells for Urban Lit are off the chain, which explains why it seems to be dominating the market. I started wondering, are folks really not interested in literary fiction anymore?

It wasn't until I read a blog post on MySpace by Tananarive Due, author of Blood Colony and more recently, In the Night of The Heat, written with Steven Barnes and Blair Underwood, that I realized there are others who share my point of view, which is that within the last few years there has been an influx of books that lack originality and creativity, many of which are published under the guise of Urban Literature. In Due's posting, she shared part of a discussion that she had with James Fugate, co-owner of Eso Won Books in L.A. He told her that business is slow and Black books in general are not doing well.

"There are a lot of factors, perhaps: A bad economy. Internet book sales. Competition with chains. Fewer book tours to draw in the crowds," Due wrote. "But Fugate also says that he believes that in recent years, more of the books are lacking in originality and story. He wonders if some Black readers may feel squeezed out by shifts in the marketplace."

The shifts in the marketplace that Fugate is speaking of has to do with the overwhelming amount of Urban Lit being published, promoted, and passed off as definitive works that speak to the African-American experience. It's the literary equivalent to BET. Yep ... scary, I know.

Well the good news is a dialogue is in effect between supporters of Urban Lit and others voicing their disdain for it. Actually, the latter is speaking loudly and they're calling for an end to it all. In fact, there is a heated discussion going on right now at It was prompted by an article entitled, Urban Lit is Dead! by Joey Pickney. Check it out!

**Congratulations to Tananarive Due on receiving two NAACP Image Award nominations for In the Night of The Heat. The NAACP Image Awards will be broadcast on Feb. 12th on Fox at 8 p.m. To cast a vote, click on NAACP to join.

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