About the #BlackPantherSyllabus

Best known for his research into television content and cultivation theory, George Gerbner (1972) said that “representation in the fictional world signifies social existence; absence means symbolic annihilation” (p. 44). Historically, the Black experience has been absent, underrepresented, or misrepresented. Intersections within the identity have suffered with additional pressures, promoting a continued sense of invisibility. Within the last few years, visual representation has been on a rise, with our stories of the Black experience being told on a multitude of platforms. Narratives filled with stereotypes and misrepresentations are being overridden by success, wholeness, and imagination. This is particularly present in popular culture. Marvel’s Black Panther film serves as the highest profile example of a fundamental shift in our experience.

The Marvel character, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966, is inspiration personified: he is a servant leader, he is a protector, he is an intellectual, and he is a power house. Inspired by the record shattering blockbuster film filled with incredible performances and sociopolitical commentary, the #BlackPantherSyllabus is designed to continue the dialogue around the importance of diverse representation of the Black identity and its intersections in visible forms of media in popular culture and the arts, including television, film, comics, music, science/speculative fiction, fantasy literature, manga, anime, gaming, and more. The hope is that this celebration of Blackness in the form of a syllabus creates an educational tool and a movement that promotes a deeper sense of self-authorship.

Curators: Dr. Brandon W. Jones bjonesproject.com, Shawn J. Moore shawnjmoore.com

Source: #BlackPantherSyllabus | Feminism | Ethnicity, Race & Gender

Which books have been important in your life? And how did you, the son of a peasant, get to write one in the Kenya of the ’60s?

While growing up, we had no books in Gĩkũyũ, my mother tongue. The Bible’s Old Testament became my book of stories. In high school, when I saw a library for the first time, I had the ambition to be able to read all the books in the world. But guess what? I couldn’t even finish reading all the books in that library! Later, in 1959, I went to Makrere University College in Kampala (Uganda) that was part of the University of London. In 1962, at the first conference of African writers coming together on the African continent, called the Makrere Conference of Writers of English Expression, Chinua Achebe looked at my manuscript of Weep Not… and made a few comments. Achebe’s book Things Fall Apart had been published a few years ago. He told his publishers about my book. It was an important moment in my life. George Lammings’s [an important figure in Caribbean literature] work has also been important for me.

Source: ‘My god is more of a god than your god is ungodly – the same applies to languages,’ says writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o | art and culture | Hindustan Times


February 17, 2018

Beauty is in the eye
of the beholder
and I be holding beauty
when I glance upon them
theoretically shaping
the future into an afro
centric sharpness
that shook
the white power structure
into confronting
black consciousness
organized and mandated
to dismiss
that old time religion
that said everything in its place
especially the black race.

A new paradigm of blackness
rooted in a communal soliloquy:
ghetto equals colony
and racism is the bastard child
of fascist economies.
Fanon, Malcolm and James
became antidotes
for antiquated theologies
and anti-social pathologies.

In the belly of the imperialistic beast,
in the macro-and-microcosms
of streets and prisons
a new paradigm, a paradise
of struggle
created by ex-soldiers
high school and college students,
whores, pimps, drug dealers
NASA employees,
doctors and number runners
heady, ready and willing.

From Watts to the Congo
white power has gotta go
burn baby burn
no ashes in the urn
time for the tide to turn
and put an end to the yearn.


Panther power was here
turned the police into pigs
and nigs into blacks
figuratively burning effigies
with tactics and strategies
that earned them freedom’s mind.


March 4, 2016


like life
we were/
in the beginning/
many feet make many sounds

we took the tree
and made it talk/
a jungle of sounds
we produced
everyone for miles around
heard it
gravitated towards it

then strangers came
chanting like gregor
tolling the bell
like igor

creating a cacophony
a frankenstein sound
that we ran from/
the reverberation of our feet
and the clamor of our pursuers
disturbed the serenity of the forest


our feet were forced
to wade in the water
and the god the strangers proclaimed
didn’t trouble the waters

we moaned
a sound as new to us
as the clang of metal when we shifted
as the strangely accented voices
ordering us to stop the dirges

but we couldn’t stop
even after the ship docked
even after survival dictated
that we scale down our humanity.

Out of our misery grew the gospel.


Excerpted from my first book, In the Whirlwind.

©2006 Tichaona Munhamo Chinyelu

forty-six years
of diaspora living
and finally, i see
myself again.

forty-six years of living
and i refuse to apologize

unless i am wrong
and wrongness always
has a personal
and a political component

so goodbye, good riddance
and good luck.

i loved you once.
as freely as i could
i loved you
and attempted to bring
the best of myself
to our relationship

but the best of me
is revolutionary
and in a non-revolutionary era
that is a form of suicide

and i refuse to commit to that.

forty-six years
of diaspora living
and finally, i see
and love myself


You’re on the porch with the broom sweeping the same spot, getting the same sound-dry straw against dry leaf caught in the loose-dirt crevice of the cement tiles. No phone, no footfalls, no welcome variation. It’s 3:15. Your ears strain, stretching down the block, searching through schoolchild chatter for that one voice that will give you ease. Your eyes sting with the effort to see over bushes, look through buildings, cut through everything that separates you from your child’s starting point-the junior high school.

The little kids you keep telling not to cut through your yard are cutting through your yard. Not boisterous-bold and loose-limbed as they used to be in the first and second grades. But not huddled and spooked as they were last year. You had to saw off the dogwood limbs. They’d creak and sway, throwing shadows of alarm on the walkway, sending the children shrieking down the driveway. You couldn’t store mulch in lawnleaf bags then, either. They’d look, even to you, coming upon those humps in your flowerbed, like bagged bodies.

A few months ago, everyone went about wary,  tense, their shoulders hiked to their ears in order to fend off grisly news of slaughter. But now, adults walk as loose-limbed and carefree as the children who are scudding down the driveway, scuffing their shoes, then huddling on the sidewalk below.

The terror is over, the authorities say. The horror is past, they repeat every day. There’ve been no new cases of kidnap and murder since the arrest back in June. You’ve good reason to know the official line is a lie. But you sweep the walk briskly all the way to the hedge, as though in clearing the leaves you can clear from you mind all that you know. You’d truly like to know less.You want to believe. It’s 3:23 on your Mother’s Day watch. And your child is nowhere in sight.

Every artist, every scientist must decide now where he stands. He has no alternative. There is no standing above the conflict on Olympian heights. There are no impartial observers. Through the destruction, in  certain countries, of the greatest of man’s literary heritage, through the propagation of false ideas of racial and national superiority, the artist, the scientist, the writer is challenged. The struggle invades the formerly cloistered halls of our universities and other seats of learning. The battlefront is everywhere. There is no sheltered rear.

Paul Robeson

Here I Stand

Paul Robeson,American actor, athlete, bass-bar...

African Reading Challenge

August 11, 2012

I have been deficient. The deficiency is particularly sad because I, an African woman, should be further along in meeting the African reading challenge than I am.  To be honest, most of my current reading is research for my next book but still…

Therefore, after I finish the book I”m currently reading, A City So Grand, The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850 – 1900, I will restart and finish Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga; start and finish Griots and Griottes by Thomas Hale. After that, I’m not sure although I know it will be fiction.

Africa Reading Challenge

January 19, 2012

Kinna Reads is hosting a year-long Africa Reading Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to read

5 books.  That’s it.  There will be no other levels.  Of course, participants are encouraged to read more than 5 books.  Eligible books include those which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are concerned with Africans and with historical and contemporary African issues. Note that at least 3 books must be written by African writers.

I will be participating in this Challenge. My initial list of 5 books (subject to change) is as follows:

Wives of the Leopard by Edna G. Gay

Why Are We So Blest? by Ayi Kwei Armah

Idu by Flora Nwapa

For Women and the Nation: Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti of Nigeria by Cheryl Johnson-Odom and Nina Emma Mba

Aké by Wole Soyinka

For more information about the challenge (including reading suggestions) visit Kinna Reads

I don’t know if the Heinneman African Writer Series (AWS) was one of those Chess record label deals where the artists didn’t get paid according to the value of their work to the music appreciating audience but rather according to the skinflint economics of record label owners. I haven’t researched it so I can’t say. I can say I sincerely hope not because I am thankful for it connecting me to so many African writers they’ve become part of my interior landscape.

For instance, earlier today, I was mopping my floor and for no reason I can think of one of the stories in Grace Ogot’s Land without thunder crossed my mind. In a beautiful story called the old white witch, a group of african nurses go on strike because they’ve been ordered to carry the feces of patients and that is against their cultural practices. As their spokeswoman, Adhiambo (but called Monica by the white missionaries who run the hospital) says:

Long before you came, we agreed to nurse in the hospital on the understanding that we were not to carry any bedpans. We want to be married and become mothers like any other woman in the land. We are surprised that senior members of the staff have sneaked behind us to support you when they know perfectly well that no sane man will agree to marry a woman who carries a bedpan. A special class of people do this job in our society. Your terms are therefore unacceptable, Matron.  You can keep your hospital and the sick. And if being a Christian means carrying faeces and urine, you can keep Christianity too – we are returning to our homes.

I don’t know why this occurred to me in the midst of cleaning but it is a fine, fine story. Land of Thunder is full of such stories. Click the book cover to visit Ogot’s Amazon page.


A more thorough review of Land without Thunder