The Decline of Black Athletes and Social Justice Protests

colin kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is everything.

Colin Kaepernick will be everything.

Nothing is better than a person not ashamed or afraid to wholeheartedly stand up for their convictions and their community.

My only question is, why aren’t more athletes sitting with Kaepernick?

#ISitWithKaepernick

Anyone who knows me knows I passionately call for black athletes to use their voice and their platforms to call attention to problems plaguing the black community. Likewise, anyone who has been paying attention realizes that usually, I am woefully disappointed.

For years, I’ve watched as fans fill Tiger Stadium to capacity to cheer on black athletes, lsucatching, throwing, and running the football proudly draped in purple and gold, while matching confederate flags fly just outside the stadium. Every few years, various groups of black students protest the purple and gold confederate flags, but ultimately nothing comes of it. Imagine if those same black players scoring touchdowns, stood with the other black students and demanded the flag be banned from campus. It never happens. I don’t even expect it to happen anymore.

Woefully disappointed.

I’ve tried to justify LSU’s black athletes cycle of silence. Admittedly, they are college students with scholarships to protect and futures to think about. They are essentially employees of the universities for which they study and play. Then, Missouri happened.

When black football players took a stand against racism on the campus of the University of Missouri, I was excited, to say the least. I hoped other black athletes would realize the power they possess and harness it for more than putting points on a scoreboard. I hoped it was a sign of progression. I hoped it would spark changes that reached beyond just their campus.

Woefully disappointed.

Nevertheless, I still tend to hold professional athletes to a higher standard.

In fairness, although the response of professional black athletes has been less than robust, it hasn’t been nonexistent. At the Espys, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul, opened the show calling oust louist the system as “broken” while seeking understanding and solutions. Likewise, Baton Rouge’s own, Seimone Augustus, and three of her Minnesota Lynx teammates donned shirts reading “change starts with us,” and held a press conference calling for peaceful conversations concerning racial injustices. Also, several players for the (then) St. Louis Rams raised their hands in an act of solidarity with the protesters concerning the 2015 killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.
While these specific instances and several others are to be commended. Acts of true or continuing protest and outcry by a majority of our athletes have been few and far between.

When it comes to speaking about matters of social justice, I resist the urge to give professional athletes the same benefit of the doubt I have given collegiate athletes in the past. I understand that they are primarily dedicated to their craft. I understand that a great amount of focus is required to hone one’s craft to rise to the professional level. However, that does not absolve them of community responsibility.  I find it extremely selfish to either be so consumed with making money or so disconnected from their communities that they are able to turn their backs on the serious issues plaguing America. How is that even possible? How do you wrap yourself in your bank account and sleep at night while people are literally being shot in the streets by those sworn to protect and serve? How can you lock yourself away in neighborhoods surrounded by walls and ignore the carnage just outside the safety the gates?

It is even more maddening when an athlete misuses their platform to deny that racism is a problem in America. I’m looking at you Cam cam
Newton. For you to now fix your mouth to even suggest that America is somehow beyond racism, when mere months ago you were relentlessly called everything but a child of God; while acknowledging, at the time, that your skin color was likely the underlying cause of the venom and vitriol. Have ALL THE SEATS.

What makes this trend of silence and denial even more offensive is the realization that was not always the case.

Black athletes, previously, have been some of the most vocal and public critics of the chronic mistreatment of blacks in America.

With the death of the greatest, Muhammad Ali, in June 2016, media outlets fell over themselves reminding us all of his unmatched boxing accomplishments, but shone less light on the convictions that drove and empowered Ali. Muhammad Ali is the embodiment of putting it all on the line to stand firm on principles and protest racial injustices. In the newfound love of Ali, it is often glossed over that he was stripped of his Heavyweight title, convicted of draft evasion, fined and denied a boxing license in every state after he refused to enlist in the armed services for the Vietnam War. Ali famously said, “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother…And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father.”

Jackie Robinson, foreshadowing the spirit that has inspired Colin Kaepernick, in his 1972 autobiography, wrote about his experience at the 1st game of the 1947 World Series, “the band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me…Today, as I look back…I must tell you…I was only a principal actor.” Finally finishing with, “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.”

tommieAnd everyone can identify the famous photo of track stars, Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics, atop the podium and defiantly raising their fists.

 

Historically, there seemed to be a tireless parade of black athletes ready and willing to speak and sacrifice for the plights of the black community. I’ve spotlighted some but there were others, including Jim Brown, Billie Jean King and Billy Russell.

Nothing that Colin Kaepernick did was unprecedented, although it has been reported as such. Kaepernick simply followed in the footsteps of the black athletes with voices and no fear that preceded him. Kaepernick used his constitutionally guaranteed right to protest injustices affecting his community. Kaepernick did exactly what he was supposed to do. I applaud ex-LSU star and fellow 49er, Eric Reid, and Seattle Seahawk, Jeremy Lane for joining the protest Kaepernick started.

As the NFL preseason comes to an end and the regular season begins, the question remains, why aren’t more athletes sitting with Kaepernick?

When Your Hometown Becomes a Hashtag

Since early May, I have been consumed with preparing for the Louisiana Bar Exam. Early mornings and late nights spent buried under seemingly endless laws somewhere between Starbucks, CC’s and the library. In an effort to focus, I deleted all of my social media apps.

The world just seemed to continue around me and my bar prep bubble. Until this week, I’ve quietly taken note of current events, the mess that is the 2016 presidential race, the Orlando Massacre, the House Democrats’ sit-in, the Brexit vote, the continuing attacks in countries overseas, with the same mixture of annoyance, shock, horror, and confusion shared by so many. The collective bubbling concoction of emotions can only be explained by so much happening in such a short span to time and every independent event eliciting strong and often opposing emotions. All the while desperately trying to maintain my level of focus as the bar exam menacingly draws ever closer.

Then, my bar prep bubble imploded.

I received a link to a viral video from a classmate. As soon as I opened the link and realized I recognized the backdrop, my stomach sank to my feet. I was looking at Baton Rouge. I was looking at my hometown.

I watched the murder of Alton Sterling.

I felt anger. I felt sadness. I felt scared. I felt vulnerable. I felt apprehensive of what would come next. What I didn’t feel was surprised.

When videos of unarmed black people began prominently circulating, I had a gut feeling that eventually an incident would occur in Louisiana. Late last year, when marshals in Marksville, LA tragically killed an autistic boy riding shotgun with his father, as his father fled from authorities,  gaining national attention and inciting public outcry, I hoped my terrifying and unwelcomed premonition had been placated. Wishful thinking. Wish denied.

I watched the murder of Alton Sterling.

Then, I watched my city devolve into chaos.

I watched the streets I’ve moved through my entire life be swarmed with throngs of people. I watched vigils degrade into hysteria. I heard the angry calls for the resignation of city leaders. I heard the screams of “F*** the Police!” and despite my disapproval and personal stance against characterizing all police officers with such a broad brush and regardless of my initial and in some cases continuing doubts concerning the motives of some of the protesters, I still get it. I still feel the anger. I can feel long boiling tensions coming to climax. I’m well acquainted with the feelings of unmistakable and unwavering outrage, indignation and resentment when people who do not live our daily reality, but by omission, tacitly support a system that was broken from the onset, all while persistently attempting to dismiss and ignore that a problem even exists. We share the same weariness of being forced to grapple with a slow simmering anger caused by our efforts to gain advancement being continually rebuffed and ridiculed. We feel the same sense of injustice in the quiet understanding that we must work harder to achieve less. And regardless of our separate life experiences, most, if not all of us are painfully familiar with the unsolicited rise in anxiety levels when flashing lights appear in our rearview mirrors. We live with the ever-present nerve-wracking reality that from a split second deterioration of an “routine” interaction with police, people who look like us, our families, and our friends, have been killed for crimes including but not limited to: playing in the park with a toy gun, refusing to extinguish a cigarette, walking down the street, catching an officer’s eye and looking away, selling cds and most recently, reaching for identification, per the officer’s instructions. We have to juggle the uncertainty of wondering, who will be next, with the dread of understanding, that someone will be next and the wait will be brief.

As tensions mount and pressure builds, we need to pause and take a breath. Take a moment to consider the possible conclusion of this chapter in our history, if we fail to reign in our justifiably intensifying emotions. Alton Sterling should not have died that night. His murder was and is wholly indefensible. Both involved officers deserve to be held accountable for their actions that tragically ended Alton Sterling’s life.

The anger is reasonable. The demands for genuine justice and lasting change are both, overdue and crucial. But, reacting out of pure rage and not taking time to set forth a plan to actually achieve meaningful progress, does not a movement make.

Marching without a goal is purposeless. Demanding change from politicians, but not bothering to vote them out of office if they fail to deliver is asinine. This battle will not be won by declaring war on the police. Violence will only be met with more violence and eye for an eye eventually leaves the whole world blind. Resorting to violence only serves to validate the stereotypes that brutality deniers cling to in an attempt to rationalize their need to automatically place blame on the  victim. Never once even bothering to consider the possibility that any fault should or could fall on the officer holding the smoking gun/administering the illegal chokehold/ planting the taser.

The movement will not be silenced or hindered by people attempting to discount and disregard the existence and proliferation of police brutality against minorities in favor of swaddling themselves in their privilege. Willful indifference is just as dangerous and deadly as active opposition and as worthy of guilt as if you pulled the trigger. America loves to hold up our freedom as a shining example to the world. Freedom breeds choices and decisions and decisions breed consequences. No one is ever obligated to stand and fight against injustice. No one must speak out against discrimination or bigotry. But, if we, as a nation, lack the basic strength of character and minimal moral fortitude to demand that the fundamental guarantee of justice for all be equally available to us all, then we must reevaluate our self-congratulatory assertions of being the home of the brave and consider the great responsibilities that come with great freedoms.

Common Senses

I see you

I see you railing against everything they told you you were

What they told you you couldn’t do

How can a nothing become anything

Squeezing sustenance out of the rocks they threw at you

Weighing options against opponents

Consequences against courage

Walking in the shadow of crimes not committed

Bearing the stains of blood not spilled

Hands raised — only to be shot down

Snap decisions lead to snapped necks

Broken black bodies fall in gold plated streets

And you bear witness to it all

Struggling to straighten your spine under scornful stares

How do you breathe in an ocean of preconceived notions

Gasping for autonomy

But met with mouthfuls of malice

My brother, I hear you

How can they tell you how to live a life they have not faced

Passing judgment on your choices

When the only options you ever had were bad and worse

Sight does not always bring clarity

Not all monsters live under the bed

Most hide in plain view

Sometimes they wear shiny suits

Sometimes their mouths smile while their eyes scream obscenities

And sometimes they carry a badge

A bullshit get out of jail free card

While prisons overflow with brothers whose faces haunt you in every mirror

Constantly fearing fulfilling their misguided prophecies

They put the juju on you

Damned from birth because you had the audacity to be a black man

The embodiment of everything they dread

A reminder that pseudo supremacy produces real holes

Revealing kinks in the armor that they wrap themselves in at night

Blissfully moving through existence with their foot on your throat –- then belittling your lack of oxygen

Brother – I swear I hear you

Unshed tears tell the anguish of your story

Treading your path through dangers unseen but not unrealized

Shouting through the static

Black Lives DO Matter

Your life DOES matter

Provocatively proving your purpose with every defiant step

A man is measured by more than Y-Chromosome

In you resides the resilience of a nation

Brutalized but not bested

Diminished but not denied

Undervalues but always underestimated

By your stripes others will be set free

Penance paid for grievances undisclosed

Sacrificing self for sons

Delaying dreams for daughters

Withstanding whirlwinds for wives

You are the best God ever created

In His image, stands you

Ignore them when they try to write your story

Disprove the counterfeit statistics

Thwart their best laid plans

And fight as if all our lives depend on it

Because ALL OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT

The collapse of one could mean the demise of many

Vulnerability exploited as confirmation for customary deceptions

It is on your shoulders that we stand

From your strength — we draw hope

In your triumphs — we celebrate

And in your shortcomings we pick up the slack

Failure has never been a luxury we could enjoy

Demolishing disappointments has become our collective super power

This is how you energize a people

Give them nothing to rely on but each other

You have carried us with willpower and tenacity

Given us vision in hopeless world

Done battle with the devil on our behalf

Because of you – we are

And because of us – you will continue

A Piss Poor Parade

Nowhere in the country is Mardi Gras more awaited and celebrated than in South Louisiana. Anyone who knows me knows I take my born, raised, and still in South Louisiana status seriously. I love Louisiana, flaws and all. However, sometimes, my fellow Louisianans let me down, and today, some did.

Today was the 35th annual Spanish Town Parade. Spanish Town is a big deal in Baton Rouge. It’s hailed as the most provocative and envelope pushing parade that many Baton Rougeians see, without heading to a different area code. All the fun of Mardi Gras, with (slightly) less debauchery than New Orleans. Just look for more pink than you ever thought was possible in one place, at one time and the flamingos, and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

As a native Rougeian, while I don’t always make the Spanish Town Parade, it has always held a special place in my heart. It serves as the place where Mardi Gras started for me, when I was younger and New Orleans was just far to risqué for my mother to risk. I’ve even had the pleasure of riding in the parade a couple times, a few years back. This year, I was really in the Spanish Town spirit. I even begged my boyfriend to accompany me because most of my friends were already in New Orleans.

Imagine the gut punch of watch the first float come down the street, only to see it decorated in confederate flags. Was the rainbow coloring, instead of the normal red, white and blue supposed to make it more friendly? More PC? More easily digestible? It didn’t. “That’s just one float,” I thought to myself, trying my best to enjoy the atmosphere and beautiful weather. My wishful thinking didn’t last long. What actually happened was a parade of hate adorned in pink flamingos making its way down Convention St. Of course, as with all things, some of the floats were the sassy, snarky, slightly off color humor, I’ve come to expect from the Spanish Town Parade over the years. However, more floats than I cared to count were joking about things that simply are never funny, like murder and rape. They were mockingly antagonistic towards the Black Lives Matter movement and blatantly disrespectful to victims of police brutality. One float depicted a flamingo with a sign around his neck with the words “I Can’t Breathe” emblazoned across it. Another mocked police brutality victim Freddie Gray by including him in a list as “Freddie Grey Goose.” What is funny about a man being choked to death by the police? Where is the humor in a man being placed in the back of a police vehicle and thrown around so violently that his spine was almost severed? I am not amused.

No one involved in the making of these floats thought, “Maybe this is a bad idea”? No one aboard those floats thought, “This isn’t funny”? No one realized that some issues just aren’t jokes? Not to speak up is to be complicit. To accept what I witnessed as the Spanish Town Parade today is to accept outright racism and I will not stand for it.

Parades are public events, for public enjoyment. The ENTIRE public. If Spanish Town was for “whites only”, someone should have posted a sign. I’m sure some residents still have a sign or two stored, just in case. But since there was no sign, and no notice that my blackness would be under attack, it shouldn’t have been. I shouldn’t have had to look at the black children around me and wonder if they recognized what they were seeing. I shouldn’t have had to feel like an outsider in my hometown.

Mardi Gras and the whole carnival season has been regarded as a time when parade goers could just have fun, breathe and get a little crazy. Today was not a fun experience. What I saw today was a far cry from the good, moderately clean fun I have come to love and expect from Spanish Town. My heart broke on the parade route today. I was disgusted by many of the krewes and the contempt parade organizers allowed to be shown in general, but to the black community, specifically. My boyfriend and I left early. I was over it. I was tired of the disrespect and the ridicule. I didn’t know it when I woke up this morning, but today was likely my last Spanish Town Parade.

I want to believe that change is possible. I want to believe that we, as a nation, are progressing. I want to believe that, eventually, all of America will be safe and accepting of all people, regardless of race, gender, or religion. I want to believe it, but the evidence seems to point to the contrary.

 

Hate, Not Heritage

swastika:confederate

Scrolling up and down my Facebook timeline has become a taxing endeavor. Honestly, its social media in general. The race debate has reached a fever pitch in the wake of the massacre in Charleston (R.I.P to the 9 innocent victims and prayers for their families and the community). Currently, the turmoil on my Facebook TL is based around the confederate flag (monuments, street names, school names, etc.) coming down. My first question is, what in the hell is the debate about? Followed closely by, what the hell took so long.
I am from the south. About as far south as you can get and still call it America. All of my life I’ve ridden up and down Louisiana rode and seen the Confederate flag blowing in the breeze. I don’t remember a time that I didn’t know EXACTLY what it stood for. A lot of black people link the flag with feelings of fear. I don’t. I don’t fear that flag, anymore than I fear the racist that’s flying it. On the contrary, I love that they fly it. It gives me a clear indicator of who to steer clear of. No questions asked. That flag is a CLEAR symbol. It’s a symbol of everything wrong with this country. It’s a symbol of treason. It’s a symbol of hate and it’s a symbol of racism. What it is most definitely not, is a symbol of the south, not MY south.
The flag was brought back to prominence for the EXPRESS purpose of hate and racism. Some southerners, today, will try to sell the bs that the flag has “always” been here. False. I guess you’re the one in need of a history lesson. Following the Civil War the flag mostly disappeared. Even Robert E. Lee requested that the flag not be flown or displayed at his funeral. He was not buried in his confederate uniform, nor were the mourners (former confederate soldiers) allowed to wear theirs. Any clue why? Because the confederacy lost the damn war! The flag was not flown or heard from for years. It did not truly resurface until the 1950’s. As the civil rights movement gained momentum this “heritage” symbol (rolls eyes) suddenly staged a comeback. How could ANYONE be clueless enough to think that it has nothing to do with race? Since its reemergence, the flag has been adopted by radical racist groups all over the country. The KKK proudly waves, wears, and basically worships the flag. I’m sure all that has to do with is southern pride and heritage.
Symbols of hate are just that. It doesn’t matter that one group would like to reimagine the symbol. It is what it is. The swastika had a long history before WWII. It was and is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The word itself is Sanskrit for “good fortune” or “well being.” However, the majority of the western world either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. Since the Nazi’s used the symbol and it was connected to their atrocities it has represented only one thing to us. No one sees a swastika flag and wonders what whoever is flying it trying to convey. It’s automatic. The Holocaust lasted for a little over 12 years. Slavery in America lasted for well over 200 years. Why is it that a symbol of hate is more considered more disgusting than the other? Why is one group of people’s pain and anger validated while another’s is dismissed? It is because slavery was an American atrocity. Or is it because at the end of the day, Jewish people are still white? Don’t misunderstand me. The Holocaust was an unspeakable horrific event. The actions of the Nazis should be condemned and the victims should be honored and remembered. But should the same reverence not be paid to the slaves?
I wonder if there are places in Germany that hold the Nazis in as high regard as the Confederates are held. I wonder if there is a place that claims the hatemongers to be great symbols of pride, worthy of the dedication of countless statues and memorials. More than anything, I wonder what Americans would think of such a place.
Today, Gov. Nikki Haley, of South Carolina, signed a bill into law that will remove the confederate flag from its place of honor at the South Carolina state house. This will do nothing to bring back the Charleston 9. It will do nothing to simmer the hate that remains alive and well in the hearts of more Americans than many care to admit. It will however, allow blacks in South Carolina the comfort in the knowledge that for the first time since 1962, when the flag was first raised over THEIR state house, their state, their home, just might have their back. Progress, no matter how small, is always and infinitely better than stagnation and apathy.

Colorstruck or Colorstuck

darkskinlightskin

 

All my life I’ve heard, “You’re so pretty, for a dark skin girl.” That lingering qualifier used to invalidate the compliment before it even registered. Nowadays I mostly ignore them and forgive them for their ignorance.
I grew up less than loving my skin tone. My momma did her best to show me that my black was beautiful and acceptable and just as good as anyone else’s skin tone. But as a small child at a predominately white school all I saw was that my dark skin made me different. My friends with lighter complexions more closely matched our white classmates and were able to fit in.
I remember taking freezing cold showers because I heard somewhere that cold water was good for the complexion. In my head good equated to lighter. I would stand under the icy water for as long as I could stand it scrubbing away at my milk chocolate skin praying it would lighten just a shade or two.
Along the way, I made peace with my melanin. The differences that bothered me so much as a child dissipated. I began to love the skin I’m in and truly appreciate it. It seemed to me, however, that as I overcame my demons the world around me became more preoccupied with skin tone. I walked the halls of my high school hearing my friends called things like “ Lil Black” and “Darkness”. It was never lost on me that the attacks concerning skin tone never once came from my white classmates it was always the blacks.
For years the black community has struggled with skin tone vs. skin tone. It has recently made a very visible comeback. Last year sometime the hastags #teamdarkskin and #teamlightskin surfaced. It was just a matter of time before the color war made its way to the Internet.
We can trace the poisonous tree from which this problem grew. In 1712 a British slave owner Willie Lynch delivered a speech. In the speech, Lynch explained ways of owning slaves that would create division among them. He explained in order to better control them the owner should highlight their differences. One of the ways he proposed this should be done was to treat the dark skinned slaves and light skinned slaves differently. Lynch’s diabolical plan worked and has over reaching consequences to today.
In slave times the dark skinned and light skinned slaves had animosity. The dark slaves felt that the light skinned slaves felt they were better than their darker counterparts. They often received better clothes, foods, and had “plush jobs” of working in the masters house, rather than the in the fields.
The fact that the whole light skin dark skin debate stems from a calculated scheme to divide us as a people should be enough to bring us together. This is simply not the case. We have taken a slave mentality and carried it over to modern times.
The truly disheartening fact is that skin tone is only truly regarded by us. Other races just see us as black, point blank, period. Light skin, dark skin, brown skin, it really doesn’t matter. We are all black. This is the way we need to start seeing ourselves. The things that divide us should not define us as much as the things that should hold us together. We experience a common struggle that does not recognize skin tone as a reason for reprieve. Our collective blackness should be paramount over the actual tone of our blackness.
We waste too much time squabbling over details when the big picture is far more important. It is up to us to mold the next generation to understand that all black is beautiful, no matter how black you are.

Mommy Knows Best

I just purchased seven books on amazon.com and may I say this is a great day. At least five of the books were $0.01. That is a BLESSING. On this, the day that I skipped church. Whew, amen.

I’ve been infatuated with books and reading for as long as I can remember. It’s my momma’s fault. When I was little and all the kids would come home from school and watch “Rugrats” and “Clarissa Explains It All” she had decided it was best for my sister and I to watch no TV from Monday through Friday. The “school week” later to be known as the “work week” , equally annoying and hellish in their own special ways.

The rule was annoying at the time and rendered me socially lacking. While all my friends were talking about the latest episode of “My Brother and Me”, I was standing there looking like “it’d be nice to have seen that show.” I didn’t realize what a gift my momma had bestowed upon me. Since I didn’t waste time in front of the TV I used books to pass the time. By 3rd grade I was on a 7th grade reading and comprehension level. This was all because I spent more time reading books than almost anything else.

I always have been a picky reader. I think it’s just gotten worst in my old age. I used to spend hours in the public library picking up and putting down books. I would drive my momma crazy but I was a product of her rules so she would complain too much. Now that I have a little money I spend the same hours in book store. I’m a bookstore snob. I deal ONLY in Barnes and Noble. I don’t know why. I like the ambience or something. All Barnes and Nobles have it, no other bookstore can replicate it. Eh, I’m a snob, I accept it.

Most recently I’ve been on this black author kick. I don’t know why I’m on it or how long it will last. But there is a problem that I’ve encountered over and over while seeking books by black authors. A lot of them kind of sound like that old Whitney Houston track, “Same Script, Different Cast.” There’s about 4 typical black stories.

1. Druggie Chronicles

There’s the painfully overdone and all too expected story that has drugs at the center. Whether it’s the story about a drug dealer or an addict. They usually start and end the same way. A seemingly typical person leads a typical life with some major flaw. Then they get thrust into the world of drugs and crime. Everything goes “good” for awhile. Then they have some major event that makes them question everything about their life and they set about to change it, some are successful, some aren’t. The end. I’ve read this story over and over. This is not to say there haven’t been any books that have offered a unique perspective. Tracy Brown is one of my favorite authors who has achieved just that. I find myself walking up and down the B aisle looking for a new Tracy Brown books. I read her books faster than she can write them. Sad face.

2. Ghetto Love Story

This is the typical boy meets girl story with black folks. That’s it. Some authors have managed to turn those love stories into completely non typical occurrences. Authors like Carl Weber and Zane have taken love stories and interwoven them with so many twists and turns that the love story just becomes a backdrop for all the drama taking place. I’ve personally purchased every book these two have written. Not to say that I still have all of them. They’ve been borrowed and not returned. Just can’t trust black folks.

3. Jesus Loves Us All

These are the Tyler Perry movies of the book world. The stories can and do start anywhere. Lots of stuff goes down between the prologue and the epilogue, but SOMEHOW we all go to church in the end and our lives are instantly changed and we never have a problem again. Now, as much as I love Jesus and believe he can and will fix all my problems (despite how my missing church today may have indicated otherwise) I think a lot of authors use Him as an easy, go to resolution for the hero/heroine’s problems. I just feel like there are much more creative routes that could be taken. People have been using Jesus to fix problems for centuries (I call on Him myself), there’s nothing new or different about it enough for me to need to read about it. But who cares what I think.

4. Coming of Age the Black Way

These are my favorite stories by far in recent years and of course the hardest to find. I like them because they leave the author so much creative freedom . They can literally steer the characters in any direction they see fit. Anything can happen because there isn’t necessarily a predetermined end. They don’t have to become a newly saved ex drug dealer that has recently found love.

They usually follow the character throughout different phases of their lives. This allows the reader to get emotionally attached. Once you’re invested authors that are good at this can have you on an emotional rollercoaster for the duration. My all time favorite book (which admittedly changes from time to time) is a part of this category, 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter. This is the only novel she’s written so far. Sad face. Another personal favorite is Tryin to Sleep in the Bed You Made by Vrigina DeBerry and Donna Grant. Today I ordered every other book these two ladies penned (thank you Amazon.com).

My books are something akin to a roadmap of my life. I can remember specific books I was reading a specific times in my life. Sometimes it even seemed like the characters in my books we guiding me, something only a true booky would understand. My bookshelves are getting full. So I have two choices, get rid of some books or get another bookcase…guess I’ll be hitting up Target soon, or Targe’ if you’re fancy.