• Sufia Alam

Pods & Pages Chapter 3

We’re back again this week with two podcasts and three books featuring or written by Black creators. As always, we hope every week these new works add to your understanding and increases your ability to have important conversations with others.

This series is about sharing with others, comment below your favorite books, and podcasts by Black creators! (And check out our last week's list here ).

1. Still Processing

What is it about: Culture, History and Society

Connecting entertainment to social issues is not something everybody can do, yet they both do it so effortlessly. Have you ever analyzed the relationship between Tiger King and society’s concept of freedom? What about Jennifer Lozez’s career in relation to racial equality and feminism. If any of these topics peak your interest, then we know you’ll have a good time with Wortham and Morris. Heads up, this podcast has concluded in May 2020 but almost all episodes are still relevant.

This podcast is the perfect mix of education, personality and pop culture. Hosted by Jenna Wortham, New York Times Magazine writer and Welsey Morris, New York Times culture reporter, this podcast gives you a new view on TV, movies, art, music and the internet. Wortham and Morris manage to give us nuanced analysis to what pop culture is today.

Episode Recommendation: New Loop America. In their final episode, Wortham and Morris discuss HBO’s show “Westworld” , the utopia of Hollywood and how this may indicate what waits for us after the pandemic.

Click here to listen, this podcast is also available on Spotify & Apple Music.

2. Somebody | The Intercept

What is it about: Police brutality, social injustice and true crime.

The series highlights the senseless killing of yet another Black man - Courtney Wells. This series follows the incidents that lead to his death. While the audience follows Courtney’s mother, Shapearl Well following her own trail to find out the truth behind her son’s death, we also explore racial disparities and the relationship between citizens and law enforcement in America.

Episode Recommendation: Because this is a series, we recommend starting from the very first episode.

Click here to listen, this podcast is also available on Spotify & Apple Music.

1. Poetry // Mend by Kwoya Maples

J. Marion Sims is known as the father of “modern gynecology,” but these tributes are whitewashing the fact that Sims' surgical efforts were due to experiments he implemented on eleven enslaved Black women. In this powerful collection titled Mend, Kwoya Maples gives a voice to three of the women featured in Sims’ autobiography. In her poems Maples explores the experiences these women faced, and illustrates this harrowing chapter of American history.

Mend stuns the reader with its brilliance, and brings to light the humanity of these women who history has forgotten. The voices of Lucy, Betsey, and Anarcha are compelling, lyrical, and unforgettable. This collection is great for longtime poetry admirers and those who are wanting to explore the genre.

2. Nonfiction // Race & Economics by Walter Williams

The book title Race & Economics is followed by the subheading, ‘How much can be blamed on discrimination?’ and this book analyses just that. What makes this read different however is how author Walter Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University approaches this topic solely from an economic perspective. Williams applies an economic approach on the problems Black Americans face today.

Don’t let the title of the book scare you from investing in this book. While the topics may be advanced, Williams shares his argument in a way you and I can understand. No econ degree required.

3. Fiction // So We Can Glow: Stories by Leesa Cross-Smith

I’m not going to lie, I absolutely LOVE short story collections, they are criminally underrated and they contain some of the best stories on the market. In Leesa Cross-Smith’s collection So We Can Glow, you’ll understand my love for short stories. Cross-Smith’s characters are vibrant -- authentic -- they literally glow on the page as you flip through each story. Their length and narrative keep the reader engaged throughout, even when a story you love ends and a new one begins.

One of the reasons I love this collection is Cross-Smith’s ability to weave in authentic characters with real-life scenarios. Her descriptions are lyrical, her characters relatable, and setting are sublimely realistic. I loved how intricately woven each relationship was - whether it was romantic, familial, or friendship. Pick up this book from your local bookstore today and experience all of the wonders that So We Can Glow: Stories have to offer!

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