By Ky Books: The Education of Kevin Powell

IMG_3677.JPGI purchased The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood after attending a Kevin Powell event hosted by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Kevin Powell addressed the issues I cared about during his discussion ranging from Black Lives Matter to why it’s important for textbooks to reflect the contributions that women make in society. He did so in such an enlightened way but I can’t ignore how calm and cool his mannerisms were. During the discussion he also touched on his childhood, having to live in poverty for most of his life. After this event, I was curious to see what his memoir was all about.

I’ve read many memoirs by women but I’ve never read the memoir of a man beside Malcolm X Autobiography, so this was new territory for me. Yet, I have to say I really enjoyed this book. Kevin Powell takes you on a journey of his life from the beginning, as a boy abandoned by his father and completely dependent on his unaffectionate mother. His trajectory into becoming a man was filled with many ups and downs but he is now a successful man and uses his mistakes to help other young men in his same predicament. I loved Part II of this book the most because it talks about his life in college as an outspoken student activist and also as a journalist for Vibe Magazine, where he received the opportunity to shadow Tupac Shakur. Kevin Powell was great friends with Sister Souljah and was also on the first season of the Real World which he discusses in this book.

If you’re interested in reading more memoirs, this book is a real treat. A lot of hip hop references and childhood nostalgia will be triggered while reading this.

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By Ky Books: God Help The Child

IMG_3664The cover of God Help The Child by Toni Morrison is what drew me to this book. It’s one of the most beautiful and colorful covers I’ve ever seen (black with colorful and bold words). This is Toni Morrison’s first book set in present-day, although at some points in the novel, it still reads like the characters are back in time. I enjoyed this book because it explores the consequences of childhood trauma, ranging from the death of a loved one to an unaffectionate parent. I also love her prose regarding the relationship between the two main characters Bride and Booker. There’s a case that Morrison is trying to build throughout the book and I can’t tell if it’s doom or hope.

For an extra treat, I found a song by Billie Holiday called God Bless The Child, very similar to the title of Toni Morrison’s book. Enjoy!

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15 Of My Favorite Things In 2015

TV Shows

I’ve discovered a lot of new TV Shows this year since I’ve been taking a TV Writing class, and the key to writing for TV is watching it. So excited about my discoveries because these shows are amazing!

1-Younger (TV Land)

The creators of Sex and The City have done it again with this show Younger. What I love about this show is that it takes place in Brooklyn (and Manhattan), so everything feels familiar, but it’s mocking millennials and everything we stand for, which I think is kind of humorous and pathetic at the same time. The main character Liza, pretends to be 26-years old (even though she’s in her 40’s), just to land a job at a publishing firm after her divorce. Her efforts to conceal her identity is both suspenseful and funny at the same time.

2-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

I’ve never laughed so hard after watching a series since Martin and that’s saying a lot. This show created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock chronicles the life of Kimmy Schmidt, a woman that was kidnapped by a man when she was a teenager and was rescued by a swat team after being locked up in a bunker for years. Now, as a 30-something year old, she’s forced to reintegrate into life in New York City. It may seem weird, but it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

3-You’re The Worst (FXX)

I am so happy I discovered this show, You’re The Worst. Another show that makes me laugh so hard I gasp for air. Jimmy and Gretchen are two cynical and borderline terrible people who meet at a wedding and fall for each other. They decide to have a non-conventional, non-mushy relationship but what they find out is when it comes to matters of the heart, they can’t stay evil forever. This show is HILARIOUS.

Books

I actually have been reading a lot this year. Here are a few of the books I’ve read this fall. I am sure you will also enjoy the little treat I have for you under my review of The Alchemist. Continue reading “15 Of My Favorite Things In 2015”

By Ky Books: Books That I Am Loving

Now that the summer is officially over, I can share with you what I’ve been reading. I challenged myself to read as many books as possible this summer because I’ve been slacking. I love to read, I really do, but sometimes with my hectic schedule, I find it hard to allot time to actually read!

The Solution: I discovered Audible. Audible is an Amazon-based service that allows you to listen to books as opposed to reading them. I was able to read (listen to) A Piece of Cake, Purpose Driven Life-What On Earth Am I Here For? (Still Reading), and Why Not Me? However, there’s something about holding a book and turning each page with curiosity that I can’t substitute, no matter how convenient audiobooks might be.

Here are some of the books I’ve been engulfed in this past summer:

1. The Sisters are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America

Describe it in one word: Empowering

I enjoyed the conversation in this book. It brought to the forefront topics that affect black women ranging from beauty and health to sex and anger. I loved that it reinforced the idea that we are magic. Maybe the world doesn’t see it, but we are a superb breed. However, it read like a couple of books that I’ve read in the past about black women including Shifting and When Chicken Heads Come Home to Roost.

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2.The Little Black Book Of Success: Laws Of Leadership for Black Woman

Describe it in one word: Insightful

This book is a good read but a lot of the lessons that the authors teach I’ve already learned through experience at work. Therefore, I would suggest this book for someone just entering the workplace. It jumps from finding mentors to being a leader and executive and sometimes the career track isn’t that fast. Actually, I know it’s not. Great book nevertheless.

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3. Miss Jessies: Creating A Successful Business from Scratch Naturally 

Describe it in one word: Warmed my heart (3-words)

This book was a page-turner from beginning to end. Not in the suspenseful kind of way, but simply because if you know anything about natural hair and natural hair products, then you know that these two women were a part of the pioneers of that industry. Miko Branch takes us on a journey from the beginning, growing up in Queens, New York in the ’80s. Her story of their humble beginnings makes you feel as if you’re their kin. I loved the trajectory. I loved the name dropping. I loved the transparency when it came to relationships and family disagreements. I loved the business advice. You are literally on a journey with the Branch Sisters through the ups and the downs.

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4. Lost & Found 

Describe it in one word: Transparent

Sarah Jakes holds nothing back. From her struggles with being Bishop TD Jake’s daughter and having everyone try to get close to her for that reason alone to her tumultuous relationship with a college football star who eventually went off to the NFL. This book deals with it all: teen pregnancy, feelings of inadequacy, highs, lows, cheating, relationships, forgiveness, and finding purpose. I loved everything about Sarah Jakes story and to be honest it changed me. It made me want to be more transparent and real when I write, which was why after reading Lost & Found I wrote Listen To Your Heart.

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5. Why Not Me?

Describe in one word: Quirky

This book, Why Not Me? was interesting. It starts off with Mindy’s desperation for making friends in elementary school. It progresses into the various awkward situations she’s been through in life which separates her from everyone else. Some parts of the book I found to be annoying. Other parts were inspiring, including her meeting with President Obama because Malia Obama was reading her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? while on vacation. I also thought it was pretty impressive that she started writing for the show The Office at such a young age and was able to snag her own show The Mindy Project as a result. She might be annoying, but she’s totally blessed.

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6. We Should All Be Feminist

Describe in one word: Flawless

This is a really short book. I think I read it in 15 minutes while at Barnes & Noble. It’s not really a book, it’s a Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (which was sampled in Beyonce’s “Flawless” song), where she drops straight jewels on the state of women and why women should be upheld to the same standards as men and vice versa. She talks about feminism having a negative connotation and how people tried to denounce her for calling herself a feminist. She also expresses her subversiveness when it comes to being boxed according to societal standards.

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7. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

Describe in one word: Enlightening

This book was awesome. I finished it back in June, after putting it down for some time. I learned so much, probably all I needed to know about the history of black hair. The book starts from our beginnings in Africa and chronicles through the present day. If you’re interested in hair or even black history, this is a great book to read. Probably one of the best on this list because of all the rigorous research the authors put into making it as accurate as possible.

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8. A Piece of Cake

Describe in one word: Heartwrenching

This was by far one of the hardest books I’ve ever read in my life. Cupcake Brown was only 11 years old when her loving mother died. She was forced into the California Foster Care System which failed her. The first three days in the system she was raped viciously, and this cycle of abuse, rape, drugs, and alcohol followed her for years. She was angry, she joined gangs, she turned tricks and she survived. I won’t ruin the ending but it is so amazing how God works in our lives. This is not a tragic story, it’s one of resilience and success.

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9. Dark Girls

Describe in one word: Necessary

It’s actually quite sad that a book like Dark Girls has to be put out to empower black women. You would think in the year 2015, we would have moved past trivial issues such as judging someone based on how dark or light their skin is. I bought this book, keeping my future daughter in mind. I want her to understand the beauty and versatility that comes with black skin. It doesn’t matter what hue you are, you are BEAUTIFUL. I also bought it because the images inside are so powerful. The stories that our sisters had to endure because of their rich dark skin are disheartening but they are not asking to be viewed as victims. They are sharing their stories solely for a breakthrough in societal thought. We have to move beyond the surface people!

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By Ky Books: The Blacker the Berry

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The Blacker The Berry is a hard read. The harsh realities of colorism exhibited throughout this book made my heart weak. Emma Lou was typecast as unattractive and some would go so far as to call her ugly because of her dark skin; her life was filled with struggles because of this. Her family were blue bloods and created a chapter of the Blue Vein Society in their hometown. Back in the days, lighter-skinned blacks deemed themselves blue blood or blue veiners (if they were light enough to see the blue veins running through their body).  Emma Lou came out with dark skin like her father, who left her mother and Emma Lou when she was a toddler. Her family saw her father in Emma Lou and resented her.

Emma Lou believed she could escape from this familial scrutiny when she went to college. She was accepted into USC in California. The only problem with Emma Lou was that she internalized a lot of the negative words that her family said to her while growing up and projected her own self-hate onto other blacks, especially dark-skinned, lower-class ones.  She wanted to be accepted with the well-to-do blacks, but they weren’t accepting of her because of her skin color. Desperately searching for a place where she could belong, Emma Lou left USC and moved to Harlem. Yet, she soon learned no matter where she went, she could not escape the demons of her past.

Emma Lou allowed herself to be trapped by her skin color and by the lies she was taught growing up. She encountered terrible relationships, where men, especially Alva, was ashamed of her because of her dark skin and rarely brought her around their friends on a social scale. One day, after many ups and downs, Emma Lou grew tired of allowing her skin color to trap her. She ran from her color issues her whole life and it was finally time she accepted herself.

Her struggle resonated with me in so many ways. Sometimes, we allow the people who are supposed to protect us, to hurt us the most. We fall victim to their misguided perceptions, especially when it comes to standards of beauty and it affects our lives tremendously. Emma Lou allowed the harsh words of her family in her early years to affect the way she looked at herself and it traumatized her for years. Many people are struggling with this very issue, even in today’s society. Eurocentric standards of beauty do very little to empower black women. We have to break these shackles, by empowering ourselves, building confidence in who we are and disallowing society to tell us how we should look. We have to reclaim our beauty.

 

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