By Ky Books: Why you should re-read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” as an Adult

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It seems like growing up everyone had to read the Autobiography of Malcolm X. I can honestly say I don’t remember reading this book in full as a child and I am kind of happy I didn’t because reading this autobiography as an adult is one of the most enthralling reading experiences I’ve ever had.

Through new adult lenses, I can understand Malcolm X beyond what the world and the media tried to portray him as (a hateful radical). I see that he spoke from a lens of truth.

Malcolm’s delivery was sometimes stong and he advocated and revered Elijah Muhammad as being some sort of prophet from God (which was a hard pill to swallow as a Christian reader). However, Malcolm X is a revolutionary figure in our history and he is often overshadowed by other political figures. Continue reading “By Ky Books: Why you should re-read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” as an Adult”

Movie Monday: “The Butler”

z6-shoji-butler-interview-a-20140214.jpgThese are our stories. OUR stories. The Butler is based on a true story of the life of Eugene Allen who was a butler for over 30-years in the White House. This movie resonated with me from the opening scene. The scene is deep although not based on Eugene Allen’s real life. A young Cecil Gaines, his mother (played by Mariah Carey), and his father (played by David Banner), are taking a picture on the cotton fields of the deep south when suddenly his mother is raped by an overseer. Cecil encourages his father to speak up on his mother’s behalf. His father tries to address the rape but is shot dead on the spot by the crazed overseer in front of his young son. This scene illustrates so many things but what rings out to me most is the dehumanization of black lives and the execution and devaluation of black bodies. Our lives meant nothing back then and it hurt watching because sometimes it seems to mean nothing now.

Ultimately Cecil’s mother goes crazy and Cecil is taken in by the Madame to be a house boy/ house slave, which sets the tone for his career. Cecil works hard and eventually lands a job in the White House as a butler, which he takes very seriously. Simultaneously he juggles being a husband and a father to his two young sons. One of his sons being a revolutionary who is deeply apart of the struggle for Civil Rights, a far cry from  Cecil’s temperament.

This movie tugged on my heartstrings for many reasons. For one, it does a great job with representing the times and the tones of the day, from Emmett Till’s death to the Civil Rights Movement, to the Black Panthers Movement, to the Apartheid struggle in South Africa, and it does it so well. Secondly, one of the most defining moments for me in the movie was Cecil finally coming to consciousness. He realized that after years of playing the “contented negro” he deserved more for his life and he needed to fight for it. This movie resonated with me in my own life. Never be afraid to demand what you want and never settle for a situation when you know you deserve more. Always strive to be your very best self but also remain humble. Cecil was a humble and hard-working man and I admire his work ethic and his contribution. He broke barriers and paved the way for us which is a powerful thing.

This movie is currently playing on Netflix which is where I watched it.

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By Ky Finds: Nicholle Kobi

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I am absolutely IN LOVE with Nicholle Kobi’s artwork. Kobi’s art encompasses representations of beautiful black women being fabulous. She has illustrations of black women with beautiful natural hair, unapologetic brown skin, hanging out with friends, drinking coffee at cafes, dating, shopping, and just exhibiting #blackgirlmagic at it’s finest.

I’ve gained much inspiration from her illustrations. You can purchase a bunch of great items from her online shop including coffee mugs, shirts, sweaters, posters, and cell phone cases just to name a few.

Nicholle Kobi’s shop can be accessed by clicking the below link:

http://nichollekobi.com/

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Confronting My History

This is what happened when I decided to confront my history in one day.

January 18, 2016

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, I had the day off and decided to watch all of the black historical films that I’ve been avoiding since the year 2012.

First, let me explain my avoidance. These films as a black person are just hard to watch. They are completely necessary to watch but hard nonetheless. I take on the emotional burdens of these historical films depicting Slavery or the Civil Rights Movement. My mind does not allow me to separate between this being a movie, made by Hollywood, from the fact that this Hollywood made movie is a depiction of actual events and occurrences that took place in the past, and so I watch these films as if these movies are real and I am emotionally burdened by it all.

In spite of this, I just decided I wanted to be radical and not just watch one of these movies but all of them in one sitting. I wanted to watch D’Jango Unchained, 12-Years A Slave, The Butler, and Selma (if I had time, I would’ve thrown in the Malcom X movie). I dived headfirst. I started with Selma because it was MLK Day. Selma had a few rough scenes that shook me to my core and made me cry. The police ruthless beatings with the batons, the violence, the hatred, the disrespect, it messed with me but I kept going.

Next up, I tried to find 12-Years A Slave. I couldn’t find it on Hulu or Netflix. My friends later told me, God spared my mind because that movie is a hard one. One day I will come back to it.

Then I watched D’Jango which was interesting. I liked it. It showed a black man empowered during slavery even though he was a murderer…hmm. What I hated most about this movie was the dog scene where a runaway slave was torn apart by dogs. This was a practice of slave masters during slavery, it just hurt so bad to watch.

The Butler, was next on my list. I was surprised by how great this movie was. It’s really powerful. The opening scene is a tearjerker. The rape and murder of Cecil Gaines parents illustrate how dehumanized black lives were during this time. Cecil Gaines worked hard and made his way into the White House, but he resented his eldest son who was a part of the struggle. His son was a part of the civil rights movement, the freedom rides, the Black Panther movement, and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. These historical references added so much substance to the movie and illustrated just how challenging the times were. Certain parts of this movie hurt to watch. Cecil constantly fought to get paid equally as the other white butlers but was shut down and told he could quit. His work as a domestic although underestimated and looked upon as uncle tom’ ish made a huge contribution to the plight of our race and I thank him for his work and the work of many black domestics of our times just trying to make a living for their families.

January 19, 2016

By the time I watched all three of these movies I was emotionally beat. I tried to go to sleep but I couldn’t. Continue reading “Confronting My History”

Movie Monday: “Selma”

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Ava DuVernay! You did great work with this movie. The first ten minutes captivated me. You see a well-dressed Martin uncomfortably receiving a Nobel Peace Prize award, but what comes next sets the tone for the whole movie. We are not sugar-coating anything with this film are we?

It’s clear this movie is addressing the reality of black lives in the 1960s, south. Four little girls walking down their church steps, talking about things that girls would most likely be talking about and then the bomb goes off, and their pretty little shoes, their hair bows, their dresses, blown away like a vapor. Their lives were taken from them because of the brutal hatred for their black skin. This scene is followed by another very powerful scene with Oprah Winfrey attempting to gain her right to vote. We see how demeaning those voter registration tests were and it brought on the first of many tears in my eyes.

Watching this movie, I had a cathartic cry. It was one of the most emotional tears I’ve ever shed, filled with pain and peace at the same time; I can’t describe it. My tears were brought on by a scene where a black man trying to protect his mother and grandfather was killed by police while protesting. I had to turn the movie off and just cry. This stuff really happened back then and it’s happening today, but why? Why are these senseless acts of violence so prevalent? Why is human life devalued so? Selma had an effect on me, and if you haven’t watched it as yet I encourage you to. Nothing that Martin Luther King did was in vain. He sacrificed his life so we could have the freedoms and liberties that we too often take advantage of.

Right now the movie is on Hulu, which is where I was able to watch it.

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By Ky Finds: Black Card Revoked

IMG_0344.JPGYou ever come across an amazing idea and wonder why the heck you’ve never thought of it? Well, that how I felt when I discovered Black Card Revoked by Cardsforallpeople.  The premise of the game is to answer a bunch of trivia questions about African American pop culture, correctly, without getting your black card revoked!

The questions are fun and lighthearted. A lot of them deal with 90’s sitcoms ranging from Martin to the Fresh Prince. One of my favorite questions is How many fights did the Fresh Prince have before his mama sent him to Bel Air? For that, you have to sing the theme song to get the answer  :).

The questions are multiple-choice or open-ended. You make your own rules to the game so if you want to play as individuals or teams it’s totally up to you. How people win, is also up to you. You can play as a drinking game or just as an activity to kill time. It was a great purchase and I encourage you to see what it’s all about.

Click the link below to head over to Cards for All People shop where you can purchase these cards and so much more:

http://cardsforallpeople.com/

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By Ky Books: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl


IMG_3683.JPGThe Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is probably one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read, primarily because I can relate. This hilarious book by Issa Rae is a new generational way of looking at race in today’s society. Rae takes us on an intimate journey of her life from her humble beginnings in Senegal to her upper-middle-class lifestyle in Los Angeles. We learn what it means to be a black woman and to feel awkward at the same time. What I loved most about this book besides its hilarious humor was Issa’s conversations about race whether it’s addressing the type of black people you will always encounter or her struggle of being too black to some, and not black enough to others.

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Movie Monday: Why everyone should see “Dear White People”

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Sam White is a bi-racial student activist who has a radio show called Dear White People. She’s working hard to implement change at Winchester University (a predeominately white institution (PWI)), starting with her appointment to Head of the all-black dorms Armstrong/Parker. A huge racial divide is brewing between the whites and the blacks at the school.

The movie simultaneously follows the lives of three other black students attending the university, including Coco, who comes off as an Uncle Tom, Troy Fairbanks who is the son of the school’s dean, and Lionel Higgins, who is the nerd, stereotyped and bullied mostly because of his sexuality. Sam and Lionel along with a group of other racially diverse students ultimately work together to ignite the biggest race war in their school’s history as a result of a racist Halloween party thrown by a popular student magazine.

This movie hit home for me in more ways than one. If you went to a PWI, then you know what it means to be an “other.” I spent the majority of my college career, but specifically my last two years feeling like an outsider. I just didn’t feel like I was in an environment that understood me. When I saw this movie, I felt like I wasn’t alone. Someone had to feel the same way to create such a real and culturally poignant movie for my generation. I say my generation; because this movie deals with the individual and institutional racism we encounter at the most prominent universities in America today. It also channels a modern-day Spike Lee Joint. This movie isn’t an attack on White people but illustrates the experience of what it means to be black in America or in a smaller scope what it means to be black in a university where the majority is non-black.

I encourage you to watch for yourself. I found the movie on Hulu

 

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By Ky Finds: Cornrows, Afro Puffs & Joy

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A lot of people may not know this about me, but I collect postcards. I know it sounds weird, but I do. It all started when I went to a Jean Michel Basquiat exhibit and wanted to take a keepsake of his artwork with me to cherish forever, so I bought his art in the form of a postcard. My collection has grown tremendously since then and includes people like Nina Simone, Josephine Baker, and Langston Hughes.

Most recently I purchased this beautiful representation of Black Girl Magic entitled Cornrows, Afro Puffs & Joy by Delphine Fawundu. It’s the perfect image of love, light, and sisterhood.

Click the link below to head over to Delphine’s Etsy shop where you can purchase this card and so much more:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/258290105/cornrows-afro-puffs-joy-poster-19×27-in?ref=related-2

 

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Colorism

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The below excerpt is my first attempt at writing about the issue of Colorism, during my sophomore year in college. I’ll share with you the first three pages of this 20-page research paper. This essay along with a few others eventually helped me win the Excellence in Communication Award at Penn State. If you decide you would like to read more about Colorism, please read the book The Color Complex, it’s one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read regarding this issue:

Colorism

April 2008

If you’re black get back/if you’re brown stick around/ if your light you’re all right.

Being Black or being White has historically separated people in America and around the world but what many people fail to realize or even acknowledge is a gap has been bridged within the black race as a result of the differentiation and discrimination based on skin tones. Colorism is the coined word to describe the dirty little secret that our community perpetuates through its idealizations of Eurocentric beauty standards and denouncement of Afrocentric standards of beauty. Skin complexion, hair type, and body image have always been conscious issues for African American’s but it is the root of self-loathing and low self-esteem as well. This form of intra-racism has proved to be psychologically detrimental to African Americans’ sense of self. Colorism is immoral, unethical, and undeniably one of the reasons why black people do not feel accepted within their own race. It promotes insecurity and inequality because people are no longer being judged by their intelligence or capabilities; they are being judged by the lightness or darkness of their skin. If we are going to successfully progress into a bright future we need to learn and understand our history. If more African Americans took the time to understand their troubled past they would understand that colorism is essentially a construct and does not dictate the type of person you are, nor does it dictate your self-worth. Understanding the dark history behind colorism is one of the first steps towards progress. The next step toward progress is acceptance. The internalized self-hate one feels towards oneself because other members in society deem them inferior is one of the reasons why we may never advance towards a society that does not judge people based on the color of their skin. Accepting that being black is not necessarily a dilemma but an armor you should wear with pride is foremost. Continue reading “Colorism”