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

When Kit de Waal was growing up in 1970s Birmingham, no one like her – poor, black and Irish – wrote books. Forty years on, the author asks, what has changed?

Source: Kit de Waal: ‘Make room for working class writers’ | Books | The Guardian


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

Amandla Awethu I

December 5, 2013

Amandla Awethu I

It was 1976.
A fine time to be alive in soweto:
for a change.

(just to be alive is a fine time)

We whispered about it
on the way home from the school
where we were told.

(we hated afrikaans too)

We uttered the word amongst ourselves.
Amandla passed from matchbox house
to squatter camp and back again:
when it came back it was loud as thunder.

(they were our children.
they were children)

We didn’t tell our mothers and fathers.
They were used to existing under apartheid.
in the name of protecting us
they would have denied us the right
to protest against the Boers’ foul policies
but what kind of protection is that?

(we worked in their houses, tilled their fields;
we knew the ugliness they were capable of)

We didn’t want to speak their language.
It was bad enough having them on our land
constantly telling us what to do and how to do it.
And now they wanted to control our speech?
To free our tongues of perversion
we took to the streets.

(we didn’t know.
they didn’t tell us)

The scent of the air changed
and our bodies suddenly knew bullets.
We saw hector being carried.
We ran every which way but the right way
because there was no right way away.

(we ran too
but we ran to the children, our children)

As we ran we picked up stones
and aimed with the precision of hatred
but stones against bullets…
stones against teargas…
fire became our ally
and raged in our defense.

(our children shamed us.
our children shamed us into defending them)

We ran every which way but the right way
because there was no right way away
except for those who ran into exile
except for those who were taken and hidden
in rooms with cement walls
where their cries became the soundtrack
that dominated life in soweto.

(what could we do?)

Love reawakened in those of us who stayed
as our mothers and fathers buried our classmates.
We raised our fists as our mothers and fathers
embraced us with the words amandla awethu
we stomped the ground as nkosi sikeleli ‘iafrika
replaced the burial hymn of amazing grace
and the tears we cried at funerals
became rallying cries for further resistance.

(what else could we do?
they were our children)



Banned Book Week

September 19, 2013

A North Carolina school board has banned Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man from its reading list on Monday, citing a lack of “literary value.”

“I didn’t find any literary value,” board member Gary Mason said at the meeting. “I’m for not allowing it to be available.”


Ohio Schools Leader Calls For Ban Of ‘The Bluest Eye,’ Labels Toni Morrison Book ‘Pornographic’

At an Ohio Board of Education meeting yesterday, Terhar called the novel “pornographic.”

“I don’t want my grandchildren reading it and I don’t want anybody else’s grandchildren reading it,” she said.


Beloved children’s book “Captain Underpants” topped the American Library Association’s annual study of “most-often challenged books” in 2012, beating out “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “The Kite Runner,” Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and more.


Virtual Read-Out

Are you looking for a way to celebrate your freedom to read during Banned Books Week? Consider participating in the Banned Books Virtual Read-out!

Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs—a continuous reading of banned/challenged books—as part of their activities. For the third year in a row, readers from around the world can participate in the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out by creating videos proclaiming the virtues of the freedom to read that will be featured on a dedicated YouTube channel.

The criteria has been updated since 2012. Submit your video by filling out this form.

If you are a bookseller, please contact Chris Finan at chris@abffe.org for special instructions. If you are a librarian, check out the page, “How your library can participate in the Virtual Read-Out,” created by ALA.

Then after Eden,
was there one surprise?
O yes, the awe of Adam
at the first bead of sweat.

Thenceforth, all flesh
had to be sown with salt,
to feel the edge of seasons,
fear and harvest
joy that was difficult,
but was, at least, his own.

The snake? It would not trust
on its forked tree.
The snake admired Labour,
it would not leave him alone.

And both would watch the leaves
silver the alder,
oaks yellowing October,
everything turning money.

So when Adam was exiled
to our new Eden, in the ark’s gut,
the coined snake coiled there for good
fellowship also; that was willed.

Adam had an idea.
He and the snake would share
the loss of Eden for a profit.
So both made the New World. And it looked good.

Excerpted from Derek Walcott: Collected Poems 1948-1984

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La Guerre (5) ee cummings

August 27, 2012

La Guerre


O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have

fingers of

prurient philosophers pinched

,had the haughty thumb
of science prodded

beauty         ,how

often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffetting thee that thou mightiest conceive

to the incomparable
couch of death thy

thou answerest

them only with


La Guerre (4) ee cummings

August 26, 2012

La Guerre


little ladies more
than dead exactly dance
in my head,precisely
dance where danced la guerre.

Mimi à
la voix fragile
qui chatouille Des

the putain with the ivory throat
Marie Louise Lallemand
n’est-ce pas que je suis belle
chéri? les anglais m’aiment
tous,les américains
aussi…”bon dos, bon cul de Paris”(Marie

with the
long lips of
Lucienne which dangle
the old men and hot
men se promènent
doucement le soir(ladies

accurately dead les anglais
sont gentils et les américains
aussi,ils payent bien les américains dance

exactly in my brain voulez-
vous coucher avec
moi? Non? pourquoi?)

ladies skillfully
dead precisely dance
where has danced la
guerre j’m’appelle
Manon,cinq rue Henri Monnier
voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
te ferai Mimi
te ferai Minette
dead exacgtly dance
si vous voulez
mon lézard ladies suddenly
j’m’en fous des nègres

(in the twilight of Paris
Marie Louise with queenly
legs cinq rue Henri
Monnier a little love
begs,Mimi with the body
like une boîte a joujoux,want nice sleep?
toutes les petites femmes exactes
qui dansent toujours in my
head dis-donc,Paris

ta gorge mystérieuse
pourquoi se promène-t-elle,pourquoi
éclate to voix
fragile couleur de pivoine?)

with the

long lips of Lucienne which
dangle the old men and hot men
precisely dance in my head
ladies carefully dead