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Game Changers

Angie Thomas

Novelist Angie Thomas used her words to set the young adult world on fire. Thomas was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Growing up in a violent area, her mother fostered Thomas’ passion for reading and writing by taking her to the local library. Writing allowed her to pursue her musical dreams as a teen rapper. Eventually, she set aside her music aspirations to pursue writing, majoring in Creative Writing at Belhaven University.

Her college studies led her to create her first book, The Hate U Give after a professor championed her to translate her upbringing into words. Her experiences, the Black Lives Matter movement, and her love for Hip Hop informed her work from then on. Her manuscript won her the inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant. The Hate U Give was a New York Times best-seller and adapted into a modest box-office hit with Thomas as a producer.

Thomas has since released two more New York Times best-sellers, On the Come Up and Concrete Rose, in 2019 and 2021. The former was adapted for the screen as a feature-length film directed by Sanaa Lathan. She most recently participated in the YA anthology Blackout, along with other writers Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon.

Her upcoming novel, Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Mainfestor Prophecy, will debut on bookshelves and online on April 4, 2023.

Angie Thomas used her experiences as a voice for those without one. She proved Black writers could use their voices to address topical subjects without compromising their principles and morals. Despite all her success on multiple fronts, Thomas shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

Novelist Angie Thomas

Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you go on even though you’re scared.

Angie Thomas

Tope Folarin

Writer and educator Tope Folarin used his experience as a first-generation American to shed light on serious topics. Folarin is the eldest of four siblings raised in Utah and Texas. His parents instilled a love for their native country in their children, sparking his fascination for culture and words. This love translated to him attending and graduating from Morehouse College.

His academic pursuits led to Folarin furthering his studies at Harvard University. He went further as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where he obtained his M.Sc. in African Studies and M.Sc. in Comparative Social Policy. His work soon found him writing several short stories while opening pieces for notable publications like The Atlantic. His writings led him to win the Caine Prize as the first non-native African writer to do so.

Folarin expanded his work into publishing with his semi-autobiographical novel A Particular Kind of Black Man. His debut novel won him the Whiting Award for Fiction. His writings also garnered him a fellowship through the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to his writing career, Folarin has used his voice in the educational space for over a decade. He currently serves as executive director of the Institute for Policy Studies and Georgetown University’s Lannan Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing.

Tope Folarin channeled his thoughts and words to reflect the differences within the U.S. His work championed Black writers to allow their voices to tackle serious subjects in a quest for change. Folarin is trying to change the world with every word.

Art became for me the pathway to, I think, achieving a kind of wholeness… And that was the beginning of my journey, I think, to becoming a more coherent individual human being.

Tope Folarin

Get to Know These Black Creatives

Patrick Alston

Abstract painter Patrick Alston

Abstract painter Patrick Alston is taking painterly abstraction to a new level. Alston was born and raised in New York. As a young artist, he had an affinity for gesture painting, materials, and psychology. He found inspiration in abstract and experimental artists like Raymond Saunders, Cy Twombly, Mark Bradford, and Basquiat.

His love for attraction led to him attending Wabash College in Indiana, where he majored in art and psychology. His studies and post-grad work focused on socio-politics, identity, language, and the psychology of color. After graduating from college, he began showcasing his painterly abstractions in various solo and group exhibitions across the globe, including the U.S. and the U.K. In 2021, he secured his first art residency through Gallery 1957 in Accra, Ghana.

Alston currently splits his time between New York and Connecticut, where he has a dedicated studio.

Amy Sherald

Portraitist Amy Sherald

Portrait painter Amy Sherald is bringing a fresh take on portraiture. Sherald was born and raised in Georgia to an upper-middle-class family. She had an affinity for art at a young age, drawing and doodling on her classwork. She found inspiration after seeing the work of Bo Bartlett on a school field trip. Despite her artistic interest, her parents discouraged her interest, leading her to enroll at Clark-Atlanta University as a pre-med. She eventually switched to painting after taking a class taught by renowned artist-historian Dr. Arturo Lindsay.

Following graduation, Sherald apprenticed for Lindsay, helping him organize and install exhibitions in Central and South America, China, and Norway. She eventually pursued her MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Soon, she put her art career on hold to take care of her ailing family. She returned to the art world with her first solo show in 2011. Her work eventually caught the eye of others, leading to some firsts. The portrait artist became the first woman to win the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and the first Black woman commissioned to create a presidential portrait with her painting of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Sherald currently works in Maryland, where she has a dedicated studio. She currently participates in solo and group exhibitions while accepting commissions.

Brit Bennett

Novelist Brit Bennett

Freelance writer and novelist Britt Bennett gives a view into African-American life through a female lens. Bennett was born and raised in California in a predominately female household with her mother and sisters. Those relationships inspired her to write as she began crafting her first novel in high school. Her passion for writing led her to major in English at Stanford University.

Bennett decided to pursue her MFA at the University of Michigan before attending Oxford University. She first caught national for her essay “I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People.” The writer eventually authored more notable works like “Addy Walker, An American Girl” and “Ta-Neishi Coates and a Generation Waking Up.” She soon ventured into publishing with her debut novel, The Mothers, in 2016 before releasing her follow-up, The Vanishing Half, in 2020. Both books became New York Times best sellers and were optioned for upcoming live-action productions.

Bennett was named to Time magazine’s Time100 Next. She recently published her first children’s book Meet Claudie: An American Girl.

Sophia Yeshi

Illustrator and graphic designer Sophia Yeshi

Illustrator and graphic designer Sophia Yeshi uses her work to highlight Black women and the LGBTQ+ community. Yeshi grew up in Baltimore as the daughter of a Pakistani father and a Black mother. Her affinity for graphic design began at age 12 when she scored a free trial of Photoshop. She took graphic design courses in high school before studying the discipline at the University of Baltimore.

After graduating, Yeshi interned for a few local firms before she started freelancing for companies like Converse and LinkTree. Soon, her work caught the attention of Refinrey29, which commissioned her to do some design work for the website. After that, the multifaceted artist created designs and campaigns for brands and publications like Instagram, Rock the Vote, The New York Times, Dwell Magazine, Comcast, Google, and UPS. She gained enough traction to secure a creative residency with Adobe and a teaching partnership with Skillshare.

Along with creating designs for multiple companies and brands, Yeshi also runs a blog highlighting other designers.

Tre Seals

Graphic and type designer Tre Seals

Type designer Tre Seals uses his work to elevate and amplify social causes. Seals grew up in Washington. D.C., where he lived on a farm. His fascination with drawing and writing began at age four when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His love for letters became a legit creative business in the 5th and 6th grades. He designed his first font as a high school senior, which led to him majoring in graphic design at Stevenson University.

Seals spent his early post-grad career working for several design firms. Those experiences led him to want to diversify the design industry. He launched his company before founding his font foundry, Vocal Type, in 2016. His diverse fonts caught the world’s attention in 2020 when his font Martin became associated with Black Lives Matter murals after the killing of George Floyd. This attention eventually led to the type designer creating fonts for filmmaker Spike Lee and the Amazon Labor movement.

Seals currently works in Maryland, the home base of his studio and foundry. He recently published his first book, Dream in Color, while working on other non-type design projects.

Forgotten Black Figures: Dwayne McDuffie

Comics and television writer Dwayne McDuffie changed the comic book world by making it more diverse. McDuffie grew up as the eldest of two sons in a middle-class Black family in Detroit, Michigan. He demonstrated a love for science fiction and comics at an early age. His talent was noticed early on as his parents worked extra shifts to cover his tuition for the private school Roeper School, where he cultivated his artistic talents. He studied at the University of Michigan as a teen.

McDuffie’s love for writing and science saw him return to U of M, where he double majored in English and Physics. Another passion of his – filmmaking – led him to New York, where he attended the Tisch School of the Arts for a brief time. After securing a less-than-desired job in NYC, McDuffie landed a position at Marvel Comics as a special comics editor in 1987. While at Marvel, he spearheaded the first superhero trading cards and the limited series Damage Control.

A few years later, McDuffie became a freelancer, working for various companies like DC and Archie Comics. His knack for storytelling and quest for diversity led him to co-found the multimedia outlet Milestone Media along with Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle. He served as editor-in-chief and co-creator of several multicultural characters, including the beloved Static. The success of Milestone opened the writer up to television and film work after Static became the first Black superhero to lead an animated series. His work on the show earned him a Humanitas Prize for the episode “Jimmy.” His work led to writing and producing several animated shows, including the Ben 10 franchise and What’s New, Scooby-Doo?

In his later years, McDuffie returned to the comics world, writing for titles like Justice League of America and Fantastic Four. He released his comic series, Milestone Forever, in 2010. The publisher passed away on February 21, 2011, following complications from emergency heart surgery.

During and after his lifetime, Dwayne McDuffie left the comic book world more diverse than when he came into it. His quest for a multicultural industry spawned a revolution that still reverberates today with the increase in BIPOC writers and characters across multiple universes. His contributions as a writer and creator across different mediums may not get the attention they deserve. So, I say, “Mr. McDuffie, thank you for all you did to create a space for Black and brown voices.”

Milestone Media founder Dwayne McDuffie

You don’t feel as real if you don’t see yourself reflected in the media […] There’s something very powerful about seeing yourself represented.

Dwayne McDuffie

Inspirational Black Writers, You Need to Know

James Baldwin

Author and essayist James Baldwin

Multifaceted writer and civil rights advocate James Baldwin spoke about race relations and intersectionality before it was a hot-button topic. Baldwin was the oldest of nine children growing up in Harlem, New York. He found his passion for writing by studying and reading at local libraries. He started as a preacher and a railroad worker before becoming a freelance writer.

Baldwin found his stride after moving to Paris and Switzerland, where he penned his seminal book, Go Tell It on the Mountain. His initial success led to other important works, including Notes of a Native Son and Another Country. This work during the civil rights movement inspired The Fire Next Time. Following the loss of his friends Medgar Evers, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, the writer left America and wrote the classic novel If Beale Street Could Talk.

In his later life, Baldwin continued his writing while teaching young writers. The author passed away on December 1, 1987, after a battle with stomach cancer.

Octavia Butler

Afrofuturism novelist Octavia Butler

Sci-fi novelist Octavia Butler set the tone for the thriving multimedia genre of Afro-futurism. Butler grew up in a strict Baptist household led by her single mother and grandmother. Her love for writing was birthed out of her intense shyness as she found solace at the Pasadena Central Library. She attended and graduated from Pasadena City College while working temporary jobs and on her writing.

Bulter found inspiration in the Black Power Movement to write her seminal work Kindred. She later found success with the revisionist series The Patternists, the sci-fi trilogy Lilith’s Brood, and the Parable series. After a successful run of best-sellers, she became the first sci-fi writer to win the prestigious Macarthur Foundation fellowship in 1995.

In her later years, the author suffered from writer’s block and depression but managed to write a few short stories and her final novel, the vampire-themed Fledgling. The sci-fi novelist passed away on February 24, 2006.

Langston Hughes

Author and playwright Langston Hughes

Renowned writer and activist Langston Hughes served as one of the prominent voices during the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes lived with his grandmother in Missouri before moving to Illinois to live with his mother. Living with his mother and new family in Lincoln jumpstarted his love of poetry. Following his time in the military, the young poet worked a series of odd jobs after one year at Columbia University.

Hughes’ work eventually found its way into major early 20th-century publications like The Crisis and The Nation. After years of publishing his poetry, he ventured into fields like novels, essays, short stories, plays, and operas. The writer founded several playgroups and outfits, including The Skyloft Players in New York and the Golden Stair Press. He also began teaching at a few colleges at the same time.

The 1950s and 1960s saw his influence wane over differing opinions with young writers, but he still mentored young talent like Alice Walker. The writer passed away on May 22, 1967, following complications from abdominal surgery. His final work, Panther and the Lash was published posthumously.

Walter Dean Myers

Young adult and children's author Walter Dean Myers

Children and young adult author Walter Dean Myers managed to merge Black youth culture with literature. Myers was raised in New York by his foster parents, which revolved around his neighborhood and church. He found a love for writing after a teacher suggested he channel his frustration about his speech impediment. He kept up this practice until he joined the military.

After working several odd jobs, Myers began writing for various publications before winning a contest, which birthed his first children’s book. His initial success led to multiple best-sellers, including Fast Sam, Cool Clyde, and StuffFallen AngelsMonsterHoops, and Scorpions. His contributions to children’s literature and YA led him to become the first Black National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

In his later years, Myers continued writing books with illustrations by his son Christopher. He passed away on July 1, 2014, after a brief illness. Following his death, there were several posthumous releases, including Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History and “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston served as one of the Harlem Renaissance’s prominent voices. Hughes grew up as the fifth of eight children in Florida to a preacher father and an educator mother. Following her mother’s death, she worked menial jobs while trying to complete her education.

After graduating from Brandard College in 1928, Hurston found success as a writer in Harlem. She had published several short stories and two books – Jonah’s Gourd Vine and Mules and Men – by 1935. The writer found her most notable success in the late 1930s and early 1940s with the release of seminal works Their Eyes Were Watching GodTell My Horse, and Moses, Man of the Mountain. At the same time, she continued her anthropology work while writing for multiple publications.

She published two final works – Dust on the Tracks and Serpah on the Suwanee – before moving back to Florida, where she worked menial jobs. Hurston passed away on January 28, 1960, following a severe stroke. Following her death, multiple unpublished works, including Barracoon and Every Tongue Got to Confess, were released.

Black History Month Spotlight: Ryan Coogler

Director and writer Ryan Coogler’s introduction to the public left a profound impact that is still found in his work today. Coogler grew up as one of three brothers to a community organizer and probation counselor. Originally born and raised in Oakland, CA, he spent much of his adolescence in Richmond, where ran track and played football. His sports prowess won him a football scholarship to St. Mary’s College.

While at St. Mary’s, the seeds for his film careers were sowed as he took a creative writing course. He eventually transferred to Sacramento State, where he took multiple film courses. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Coogler enrolled in the master’s program of USC School of Cinematic Arts. During his tenure at the school, the filmmaker creates a series of short films that prestigious student film awards such as TIFF’s Dana and Albert Broccoli Award for Filmmaking Excellence, the HBO Short Film Competition, the DGA Student Film Award, and the Jack Nicholson Award for Achievement in Directing.

As a USC student, the shooting of Oakland native Oscar Grant greatly affected Coogler. He put together a script by interviewing Grant’s family and attorney. Eventually, a chance meeting with Oscar winner Forest Whittaker led to the film Fruitvale Station. The film went on to be a critically-acclaimed sleeper hit, scoring multiple nominations for Coogler and frequent collaborator Michael B. Jordan. After the film’s success, he and Jordan teamed up with Sylvester Stallone to bring Creed to the big screen. The seventh installment in the Rocky franchise proved to a success – critically and commercially.

After helming two successful films in a row, Coogler was tapped to direct an all-star cast in Marvel Studio’s first MCU film with a Black lead – Black Panther. Released in February 2018, the film went on to become the highest-grossing film by a Black director. It garnered multiple award nominations, including an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The hit film will be followed up with a sequel in 2022. Along with the Black Panther sequel, he will write and direct Wrong Answer, another film with Michael B. Jordan as well as Space Jam: A New Legacy with Lebron James. The director recently signed a deal with Disney+, which includes a drama based on Wakanda.

As a screenwriter, there are very few creators in the entertainment industry so inspire me more than the man I just profiled. I have admired his efforts to push stories of the Black diaspora. He spotlights many aspects of Black culture over different continents along socioeconomic, class, and racial lines. He (as well as a few other Black creators) have front Black cinema back into the mainstream conversation, and for that, I want to say thank to Ryan Coogler for pushing creative like myself to highlight all facets of my culture.

To recognize yourself in a character onscreen, and to connect with them, you gotta recognize their flaws; they gotta feel like a real person.

– Ryan Coogler

Black History Month Spotlight: Issa Rae

Multihyphenated content creator Issa Rae grew from a YouTube content creator to one of Hollywood’s most powerful Black voices. Rae grew up as one of four siblings to a Senegalese doctor and Black American educator whose careers took the family across different continents. Originally born in Los Angeles, CA, she lived in Senegal and Maryland before settling in California. It wasn’t until Rae entered high school that found her passion and voice – acting and writing.

After graduating from high school in Los Angeles, Rae went to Stanford University, where she received a BA in African and African American Studies. The seeds for her first series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl were planted as she met her producer Tracy Oliver. The two eventually took classes at the New York Film Academy after Rae completed a theatre fellowship in New York City. Her confidence in having an entertainment career wavered as she contemplated between law and medical school before Awkward Black Girl took off.

After contemplating quitting her career, she had her breakthrough moment as Season 1 of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl took off on YouTube. The series gained recognition through word of mouth and coverage online before the mainstream media picked up the series. This attention led to renowned music producer Pharrell to helping produce the second season. Rae even went on develop other successful YouTube series such as Black Actress, The Choir and First. She ended up scoring a development deal through Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland with host and comedian Larry Wilmore helping to develop a comedy series.

Despite the deal not working out, the series she developed with Wilmore led to a pilot for HBO. This deal eventually led to the acclaimed hit Insecure. Her work on Insecure has led to multiple award nominations as both an actor and writer. The series’ success helped to secure Rae an HBO development deal, leading to projects such as Rap Sh*t and A Black Lady Sketch Show. The creator continues to produce film and television projects through her production outlets Issa Rae Productions and ColorCreative. The success has translated to a big screen career as both a performer and producer with hit films such as The Hate U Give, Little, Hair Love, and The Lovebirds.

As a screenwriter, there are very few creators in the entertainment industry so inspire me more than the woman I just profiled. While I did catch a few episodes of Awkward Black Girl on YouTube, it was her efforts to push other underrepresented and marginalized creators that made her a source of inspiration. She managed to turn an acclaimed, poignant web series into a multimedia brand spanning television, streaming and the web. She (as well as a few other Black creators) helped to bring the Black experience back into primetime after a drought of Black television content, and for that, I want to say thank to Issa Rae for pushing creative like myself to highlight all facets of my culture.

My confidence comes from doing what I love to be honest, like to be able to create something from the ground up and to be able to… kind of walk in your purpose is a great feeling.

– Issa Rae

Black History Month Spotlight: Walter Dean Myers

Children’s book and young adult author Walter Dean Myers managed to merge Black youth culture with literature. Myers experienced a rough childhood growing up in New York. At age two, he was given to his foster parent Herbert and Florence Dean after his mother’s death. Adopting the middle name “Dean” to honor the love and affection the Deans showed him. His life revolved around his neighborhood and church.

Their love was needed as Myers’ speech impediment lead to some trouble at school. But a turning point came when his teacher suggested using writing to channel his frustration. He continued writing short stories and poetry into high school before quitting at age 17 to join the military. Upon being discharged, he went from job to job trying to find his voice until reading “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin.

Soon, he began writing for various publications before winning a contest, which leads to his first children’s book. Much of his work channeled his troubled teenage years and growing up in Harlem, New York. His exploration of Black young culture was unprecedented in children’s and young adult literature. He went to published best-selling titles such as Fast Sam, Cool Clyde, and StuffFallen AngelsMonsterHoops, and Scorpions. During his lifetime, Myers was a five-time Coretta Scott King Award winner along with being a Newbery Medal, Hans Christian Anderson, and National Book Award finalist. From 2012 to 2013, he served as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, becoming the first Black person to be granted this honor.

In his later years, Myers continued to write children’s books and young adult literature with his son Christopher doing the illustrations. He passed away on July 1, 2014, after a brief illness. Even after his death, his work continued to be published with his last book, Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History, and the short story, “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push,” coming out in 2017.

As a Black teenage male, I had very few authors who appealed to me outside of the few Black authors that were required reading. Discovering Walter Dean Myers’ works in junior high made me feel seen and heard in a way I had never felt before. He captured the experience of Black youth without pandering or being outdated. He made me strive to be better than some of the circumstances he wrote in his novels, and for that, I want to say thank to Walter Dean Myers for shaping my adolescence and wanting to highlight my culture.

Books transmit values. They explore Our common humanity. What is the message when some people are not represented in those books?

– Walter Dean Myers

Black History Month Spotlight: Toni Morrison

Author and educator Toni Morrison set the tone for many Black writers of today. Morrison grew up as the second of four children in a working-class African American family in Lorain, Ohio. Her love for reading and her heritage was stimulated by her parents telling of African-American folktales and ghost stories.

She turned her love for reading into her passion as she received her BA in English from Howard University followed an MA from Cornell University. She taught at Texas Southern University and Howard before getting Random House subsidiary L.W. Singer. While at Random House, Morrison became the first Black female senior editor, giving chances to many upcoming Black writers such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, Huey Newton and Gayl Jones.

Soon, she began writing herself leading to some African American literature’s most celebrated works like The Bluest Eyes, Song of Solomon and Beloved. Her storytelling and celebration of Black culture sent a precedent for African American literature. With Beloved, Morrison became the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. In 1997, she became the second female and first Black fiction writer to grace the cover of Time Magazine.

In her later years, Morrison continued to thrive as a professor at both Cornell and Princeton University. She released her final work of fiction, God Help the Child, in 2015. She passed away on August 5, 2019, after a battle with pneumonia.

Some may not acknowledge this fact, but Toni Morrison is basically the turning point for African American literature. Her foresight and sense of awareness was able to push Black writers and stories to the mainstream in a way no one before her had even tried. Her contributions as a writer and editor aren’t celebrated enough, but for that, I say thank Ms. Morrison for all you did to create a space for Black voices.

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

– Toni Morrison

Black Media You Should Be Grateful for This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is usually a time of togetherness. Dad, Grandpas, and Uncles screaming at the TV as his team misses another touchdown. Mama, Grandmas, and Aunties chastising the kids for nibbling on the sides. All the kids – oldest to youngest – teaching each other the latest TikTok dances and posting filtered selfies on the Gram. But this year’s circumstances eliminated any possible cheek-pinching and sloppy kisses from the fam.

This doesn’t mean people are tossing aside turkey (or chicken) and all those wonderful side dishes. Having a small circle of (COVID-free) friends or immediate family over is still a slim possibility with social distancing and Zoom.

This year, you can tap into the Black experience by being appreciative of outstanding Black media of all shapes and sizes. With that said, I decided to highlight some outlets keeping us informed and entertained on Turkey Day.

Black News Organizations and Publications

These publications and websites provide news and views without all the shade (maybe only in small doses).

Blavity – grabs you all things Black media-related from news to beauty to tech

Mogul Millennial – supplies Black entrepreneurs with news, views, and resources

The Grio – gives you news of the day through the lens of Black America

Atlanta Black Star – gives daily news for Black America across different platforms

Rolling Out – speaks on Black news and culture with a Hip Hop slant

CRWNMAG – taps into the Black lifestyle and hair culture

Watch the Yard – speaks to the HBCU culture and experience

Essence – gives a voice to Black women across all lifestyles and perspectives

For more Black voices still in traditional print, here is a directory of different Black publications nationwide. For anyone looking to break into publication, here is news of a new fund supporting Black writers and journalists.

Black Podcasts

These podcasts are just as diverse as the diaspora itself.

Still Processing

Black Men Can’t Jump [in Hollywood]

Code Switch

The Read

Back Issue

Okay Now, Listen

Melanin Animated

The Black Film Space Podcast

Jemele Hill is Unbothered

Strong Black Lead

Black N’ Animated

Toon Lore Done Right

For more Black voices in the podcasting space, here is a list of podcasts covering all the different facets of Black culture.

Black Film and TV Platforms

These platforms provide much-needed outlets for Black creatives.

aspireTV

kweliTV

UMC (Urban Movie Channel)

Blacktag

While eating your dinner this Thanksgiving, why not watch, read, and listen to some of these Black media outlets.

Mixed Feelings Over a Creative Future

As 2020 barrels toward an unpredictable ending, being a Black writer has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Angry. Sad. Anxious. Joyous. Depressing. Exciting. Frustrating. But recent developments have been made me hesitantly optimistic.

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

My creativity as a writer has been tested so many times this year. For me, 2020 was supposed to be my year, but God has other plans (not only for me but the world in general). I’ve witnessed Black body after Black body become viral sensations as the American mainstream finally recognized (not accepted) how racist the US truly is. So many times, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs in frustration and angry. I tried to write about it, but my mind and spirit wouldn’t let me. It was too tiring to use my words to educate or express my thoughts on the Black American experience.

Along with America finally (if only superficially) addressing racism, COVID-19 decided no one was going to have any fun in the first year of this new decade. Again, my thoughts and feelings couldn’t come together to speak on the fun destroyer. I experienced an overwhelming depression that led me to channel my feelings into overeating. Despite being an introvert, I found lockdown to be isolating and anxiety-filled as this pandemic brought this never-ending cycle of openings and shut downs. I’ve been isolated from my family for months with social media and phone calls being the only form of contact. Despite writing for months, I’ve felt no motivation to tend to my personal writing. I hope to change that in the near future.

But the past few weeks have taken the cake. Between the clusterfuck known as the presidential election and an unexpected car accident, I have been having a hard time. Watching this country be divided between red and blue, Black and White, and men and women has been surprising yet typical after the election. Seeing the Orange Man defeated after four years of nonsense was bittersweet. Part of me was joyous to return to a bit of normalcy while the other part of me knew udder chaos was bond to break out. The social media meltdowns were better than primetime television.

On the other end, my car accident left me with mental, emotional, and physical pain I will have to deal with you a while. Despite having an attorney and an orthopedist, the process hasn’t been easy. I still have to deal with things that out of my control. My frustration and annoyance has been on an all-time high.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Despite all this turmoil, my creativity has never stopped. My mind is constantly filled with ideas of pieces I want to write. Hopefully, my plans for the rest of the year will pan out. Screenwriting is definitely in my sight as I plan on revising quite a bit over Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Working on Valarie, Brothas, and the untitled action adventure will be my main focus before 2020 ends. I feel inspired to work on a piece or two (one fiction and one nonfiction). I will see more coming from me in 2021.

Since taking my break, my freelance work has increased as more and more contract work continues to come in. While it can be overwhelming at times, I won’t want it any other way. I love being busy. I might even have even more work around the corner if some connections work out.

On the school front, the Fall semester is coming to an uncertain close. Dealing with COVID-19’s impact on education has made everyone involved feeling overwhelmed, despondent, and anxious. If recent news and emails are anything to go by, these circumstances won’t be going away any time soon. Hopefully, by Fall 2021, school will have dealt with the “new normal.”

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

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