Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog


March 2016

March 2016




Stunning Photos Of

Swahili Women

In 1800s

Will Make You Want

To Go Back In Time



The abolition of slavery in 1887 marked a great turning point on the Swahili coasts and photography was definitely one of them.

What was previously mass marketed as posters and souvenirs before was now an essential part of Swahili culture.

Women adorning themselves in expensive clothes and jewellery in light of celebrating this newly found freedom was now part of every day life. Looking closely at the photos many of the women’s poses and demeanors suggest a strikingly modern and assured connection with the camera.

Photographer Sultan Barghash Bin Said created a camera obscura room in a high tower of his new palace, called the House of Wonders. And we can see the magnificent results here:














































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Apr 27, 2016

Apr 27, 2016



Bittersweet Like Me:

When the Lemonade

Ain’t Made For

Fat Black Women &



I watched the beautiful and amazing Lemonade
visual album on Saturday, centered and very
open to the generosity of Bey’s art. I was floored
and enamored. It was lit as fuck, y’all! I was so
proud to experience such a well-designed, politically
important, empowering and intentional creative
piece by a Black woman who is, hands down, one
of the greatest artists of all time. Literally: what a
time to be alive for Black women and femmes.

But as I watched it again to further explore the
nuance and political layers, I discovered something
was missing for me. I discovered I was missing in
Lemonade. Which is to say, the lemons life and
white supremacy have given me are not in Beyoncé‘s
pitcher. The trauma, empowerment and reliability
of the Black women and femmes in the video did
not exist for me personally or politically.

There were literally no fat Black women or femmes
anywhere in the video that were not portrayed as
references to poverty (New Orleans video stills) or
desexualized, grieving mothers (note: they weren’t
even fat, but they were the only bigger bodied/non-
sexualized bodies within the entire visual album).
Now, when I brought up the lack of representation
up to other Black women and femmes, the first
responses were:

  • You just hate Beyoncé.
  • Why don’t you critique Rihanna and everyone else who’s not Beyoncé? 
  • Beyonce can’t do it all!
  • Why do you need to see yourself in something that’s about Beyoncé’s experiences?

This hyperresponsive clapback is what I always expect when it comes to Queen Bey. But the lack of understanding around why fatness is important (and a fundamental requirement, TBH) in a conversation with another Black femme about the portrayal of Black girl magic and Black femme supremacy is absolutely, unexpectedly disheartening.

Related: Oshun: The African Goddess Behind Beyonce’s Lemonade

I felt very empty when I didn’t see anyone who had a body like mine in such an iconic piece of art that has been hailed as a visual anthem for Black femmehood. Instead of assuming that my perspective and opinion on Beyonce’s current work and her role in creating this powerful art is based in vitriol, can we make room for other Black femmes to talk about representation in something that should inherently include them? Is it possible that Black femmes and women who value Beyonce can also give necessary thought to her work and platform? Is it possible to ask for representation in something about OUR historical trauma and pain, especially set in the Deep South?

Is it really too much to ask that Beyoncé include one or two cameos from fat Black women or femmes that are not desexualized, grieving mothers? Is it really too much to see fat Black women and femmes in the Deep South slaying the game (’cause we been here) incorporated in this powerful piece of art? Was it too much to give Gabby Sidibe a call real quick to channel that Southern Black Femme Gothic vibe she was servin’ in American Horror Story? Is it ludicrous to think that Amber Riley could’ve popped her pussy for real niggas somewhere in between “Hold Up” and “6 Inch?” She couldn’t do a feature with Jazmine Sullivan and get these Black fat thighs sanctified too?

Lemonade has themes of Southern Gothic, Black femme supremacy, Black magic, Black transcendence, Black religion and spirituality, betrayal and abuse, survival and resistance. In all of the beautiful visuals, poetry (written and adapted by Warsan Shire) and storylines, the vulnerability and struggle was never reflected in a fat Black body. And the limited representation in Lemonade could easily be quantified as accessory trauma tropes — in which we never see bigger Black femmes and women incorporated into a deep truth-telling experience like Beyonce and her thinner cameos, but rather as a tragedy in the background for effect.

Related: What Do We Mean By “Femme Privilege?” It’s Not as Simple as Everyone Thinks

Southern Blackness is inextricably linked to bigger Black femmes’ and women’s bodies. Our bodies symbolize the birthright of Black struggle while also representing the lineage to white plantation/white supremacist functionality. The rich history of the Deep South and the violence around troping, codifying and oppressing Black women and femmes is centered on mammification, sexual violence excused through hypersexual mythologies, denial of beauty, animalizing our humanity and utilizing our bodies as a literal and symbolic vessel for the continuation of slavery and subordination.

The references to mammification (caretaking, being everyone’s keeper) within Lemonade’s visuals, poetry and lyrics speak to a violence that is inherently constructed around fatness, Blackness, womanhood and femmehood. I imagine the Fannie Lou Hamers who have always been maternal figures to everyone around her, expected and praised for being that nigga for all the people in her life but never receiving love and protection in return.

I think about the Big Mama Thorntons singing their pain, creating innovative magic through resilience but getting their legacy and craft appropriated and snatched. Black fat women and femmes are always expected to play support systems to everyone in the world (even to other black women and femmes) while being politically denied healthy access to sexuality/sexualization, gender conformity and humanity. 

In “Hold Up,” Beyonce says, “I don’t want to lose my pride, but I’ma fuck me up a bitch.” Anger codified upon Black women and femme bodies is constructed as a disparaging, limited identity that seemingly invalidates our humanity and our ability to be logical, emotional and multifaceted.

But this trope becomes very different when fatness is incorporated; we are looking at a completely different type of violence. Angry fat Black women/femmes are not given space to be rightful in their anger — or even human in their feelings. We’re coded as angry inherently because ugliness (through fatness AND Blackness) denies us the pride Beyoncé is referring to. Beyoncé’s pretty (constructed through thinness, smaller features and light skin), which hurts so badly, is also a privilege that allows her to be worthy of anger when a man betrays her. 

This concept of denying Black fat femmes and women respect, fidelity and loyalty is also where the popular line, “And I can’t even get a text back” comes from. It is often used as a disparaging response when Black fat women and femmes, deemed too ugly for happiness and love, post pictures about their relationships. How different would it have been if a Black fat femme had been incorporated in the Lemonade visual? Could our view of beauty and love for Black women and femmes grow more complex if we saw a range of body types and sizes? What would this say about misogyny and betrayal from niggas (read: cis-het men or masculine folks) if we saw a range of different Black femmes and women claiming the right to be angry and burn everything down when they are fucked over? How would desire politics be reshaped if we saw a black fat woman claiming autonomy and respect? 

In “Sorry”, Bey says, “MIDDLE FINGERS UP, PUT THEM HANDS HIGH, WAVE IT IN HIS FACE, TELL HIM, BOY, BYE.” All the while, Bey and my bae Serena Williams are fucking it up (read: twerking, being bad AF, black femme supremacy). But imagine if a fat Black femme was twerking and fucking it up with them. Imagine if they were putting their middle fingers up and weren’t sorry, because fuck these niggas!

Since Black fat femmes/women are always portrayed as unloveable, unworthy, ugly, angry and animalistic, the presence of our existence would call the entire song into question. Because how could ugly fat Black bitches be unbothered and unbossed about ain’t-shit niggas? How are they desired and fucked enough to even have the relationship problems Beyoncé and Serena have? And that’s exactly the point. Black fat bitches been here, been getting love, been fucking, been hustling, been getting fucked over, but we are still powerful, worthy, beautiful and in a political position to control who we give our labor, time and bodies to. We still deserve to put our middle fingers high and tell that boy, BYE.

Related: 4 Reasons Why We Need Fat Liberation

Beyonce's Sorry

In the same song, she also says the infamous line: “BETTER CALL BECKY WITH THE GOOD HAIR.” There is a deep history of Black women’s and femmes’ humanity being compared to the purity, beauty and humanity of white women and femmes. Beyonce can drag Beckys (read: white girls) to hell, but can we also talk about how thinness (or proximity to acceptable body types), colorism, ableism and gender are also part of this larger critique for Black femmes and women everywhere?

Beyoncé has mad beauty-standard privilege, thanks to her light skin, her acceptable/thin body, able-bodied status, cisgender identity and heteronormativity. But when Bey reads white girls, it’s also praised and relatable because Bey is also on a beauty pedestal for being Black and exotic. If a Black fat bitch was next to her when she said that, would niggas still understand why Becky needs to be dragged? 

Blackness + fatness denies us beauty proximity through the constructions of whiteness in ways Beyoncé and her Lemonade guests would never get shitted on for. It’s necessary to recognize that Black femme and girl pain is rooted in the policing of bigger bodies. We’re denied even the thought of sustainable and healthy love in any regard. Our clapback at white women would seemingly be read as a joke because we’re the literal opposite of white femininity (the most noted type of physical beauty). That’s why Black women’s and femmes’ pain and navigation of love has to be symbolized somewhere in this visual to really get Lemonade poppin’. 

As we continue to examine and enjoy Lemonade, I search for the stories of fat Black femmes and women who have been raped, sexually exploited, beaten, politically ignored and are expected to remain strong, resilient — and silent–  in their pain and experiences. I continue to search for the fat Black girls who are always the shoulder to cry on for the Beyonces of the world. I continue to question where the Aunt Jemimas (read: fat black women/ femmes in servitude) are, the fat black women and femmes who are tired of servin’ everybody, feeling like it’s them vs. everybody, feelin’ overwhelmed with people needing them and draining them. 

I wonder where the Sheilas (Jill Scott’s character in Why Did I Get Married?) are — the fat Black women who are married to ain’t-shit ass niggas who continue to drain you of love and apologies while giving you nothing but self-hate in return. I wonder where the Big Mamas are at — the grandmas and nanas who always find ways to make Sunday dinner, who are berated for their physical health but never get asked about their mental health and grief from life in a world that was never created for their survival. I wonder where the little Black fat girls are who get told no one will ever love them or hold them or adore them — the Preciouses of the world who have experienced more trauma than care.

And I continue to wake up every day physically and emotionally TIRED.

My love for Beyoncé doesn’t come with silence or complacency. My critique of her doesn’t only happen when she’s dropping an album. The space I hold for her is not conditional, but rather intentional. I love Bey. I love Bey’s pop culture power and political growth. And I also hope to see Black fat femmes like me in her work centered on Black girl pain and Black girl magic — specifically because there is no story of black pain deeper than that of fat Black women and femmes. 

There is no Lemonade for Beyoncé without the bitter violence against Black fat femmes and women. There is no Lemonade for any Black woman or femme without the sweet resilience, complicated experiences, beauty and existence of fat Black women and femmes. 

Ashleigh Shackelford is a queer, agender, Black fat femme writer, artist and cultural producer. Ashleigh is a contributing writer at Wear Your Voice Magazine and For Harriet and the creator of Free Figure Revolution, a body positivity organization. She is currently working on her M.A. in Africana Studies at Morgan State University. Read more at











Akiba Solomon is the shit.

This goes without saying, of course. You don’t become an editor at The Sourceand the person behind the political humor column “What the F@#k” while there…and co-edit Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Partsand work for Jane, Essence, and Vibe Vixen…and currently serve as editorial director for Colorlines without being the shit. But it bares repeating. Just in case anyone forgot.

Anyway, since she’s the shit and all, it’s natural she’d be a writing ass chick I love too.

DY: Since Saturday evening, both my Facebook feed and my Twitter timeline have been filled with Beyonce and Lemonade-related hosannas. Even those who usually feel the need to preface their Beyonce-related thoughts with stuff like “I aint on Beyonce’s dick like the rest of y’all…” are finishing those sentences with “…but Lemonade changed my life, b.”

This, however, hasn’t been you. At all. You’ve been very critical of it, especially the hour-long film accompanying the album. And if I recall you made similar criticisms when “Formation” dropped. So why aren’t you drinking the Lemonade? Do you just hate nice things?

AS: I do hate nice things like the sunshine, fresh cut peonies and Black girl joy.

Seriously, though. My feelings about Lemonade and a lot of Bey’s recent stuff are complicated. Please keep in mind that I am not a Beyonce hater. I think she’s beautiful, savvy and an exceptional performer.

Anyway, I watched Lemonade twice. I hated it the first time and liked (but not loved) it the second time. The first time was the night it premiered. I had zero context about Warsan Shire’s poetry, the multiple directors or the Oshun references. As a piece of art, I thought it was all over the place and I am sick of  the gangsta-Bey novelty. As a piece of Black art, I thought it was another example of how poorly Bey deals with skin-color politics and antebellum imagery.

Starting with “Formation” and the Superbowl performance and now with Lemonade, Beyonce has been doing this very particular thing of reinforcing color hierarchy by using groups of darker-skinned, similarly styled women with afros or some other “natural” hair as background noise.

In “Formation” the video and the Superbowl show, Beyonce doesn’t place herself in community with these women. The lighting, her position, her lighter skin and long straight blonde hair make her the queen. That’s superstar stuff, but people want to make this stuff Nina Simone-level Blackness–just without the sacrifice.

DY: But couldn’t someone make the counterargument that the juxtaposition exists because Beyonce is the star and they’re literally the background? That she feels a kinship with these women. But since they’re her background dancers, both the uniformity and them existing in the background are understandably intentional?

AS: The “Formation” lyrics—”Mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas ‘bama”—tell a different story than one of that type of kinship. Beyonce is literally saying that Creole people are not regular-Black but special-mixed Black. Her construction makes it seems as if there is no privilege attached to being a more European-looking Creole rather than a West African-presenting Black ‘bama. Like, “yay, we’re all mixed and equal and pretty.” We all are mixed and pretty. But it’s bullshit to imply that we’re regarded equally amongst ourselves and the overall trick bag of White supremacy. Bey did not invent the Creole idea.(Read this essay by Dr. Yaba Blay, a dark-skinned New Orleanian of Ghaniain descent and a scholar of skin-color politics.) But it’s still troublesome to me.

The color thing happens again in the Superbowl performance. The darker-skinned women are now wearing black berets over fro wigs and black pleather booty shorts. Despite the Black Panther allusions, Beyonce, maintains her signature long, straightened blonde weave and rocks a special bodysuit that looks like it’s from the Jacksons’ Victory Tour. That juxtaposition makes the 50 or so darker dancers part of the set rather than actual human women.

In Lemonade, she does this on the bus with the darker women in the body paint and various African hairstyles.

Then she takes things a step further by having Serena Williams—one of the best athletes in the world and a dark-skinned woman frequently called ugly, mannish and a monkey—twerk and body-roll as she sits on a throne doing no such labor. People have argued that Beyonce is giving props to Serena because at one point she drapes herself over the throne the way Serena did on her Sports Illustrated cover. Plus they say that Serena “wanted this.” And, OK. Serena Williams clearly does whatever she wants. But none of that context explains why Serena is a twerk-maiden for most of her time in the video.

Finally on this, her constant antebellum imagery is confusing and it’s romanticized. Here we see Beyonce sitting in the center of group of darker women fanning herself. Or Beyonce alone, fanning herself. Or Beyonce bragging about Guivinchy (sp?).

I’m not a historian, but these images remind me of placagequadroon balls and/or the fancy trade. I’m unclear why Beyonce is going back to this.

So the colorism and antebellum weirdness bother me, especially given how so many Black folks want to cast these cultural products as the ultimate declaration 360-degree Blackness–old Black, new Black, Afro-Futurist Black, Feminist Black, Rich Black, Slaying Black, Queer Black, ‘Hood Black, Southern Black, Real Black.

Yes, Beyonce is Real Black. But colorism and historical myths are Real Black too, and they suck.

DY: In your first answer you mentioned that your thoughts on Lemonade have shifted a bit since your first viewing. That you see it in more of a positive light now. (Or, rather, less of a negative light.) What changed?

AS: I watched it again a couple nights ago after skimming a billion think pieces and think-posts. I felt I was missing something. I was. This project isn’t as disjointed or unintentional as I thought and there’s a lot of symbolism I haven’t been exposed to before.I can now see why people are losing it. It’s an often beautiful piece with powerful scenes of Black male vulnerability, moms mourning their children slain by racist police or vigilantes, performance, love in many forms, baptism and Black women bonding.

I still feel the same about the color politics and antebellum shit, though.

DY: So, since you don’t like sunshine, fresh cut peonies, Black girl joy, and Beyonce’s Simply Creole Raspberry Lemonade all that much, what does catch your fancy right now?

1. VSB of course. It’s my favorite read.

2. The Hamiltones “Respeck.”

If you didn’t see it, Anthony Hamilton’s background singers turned Birdman’s terroristic threats on “The Breakfast Club” into an old-time gospel song with three-part harmony.

First of all, two of The Hamiltones sound like Bobby Womack. Second of all, while I don’t condone violence toward radio show hosts, Birdman’s repeated demand for “respeck” on his name is profound. (I’m joking. Sort of.)

3. Fantasia’s Prince tribute in Atlanta made me shout. People take Fantasia for granted. They should stop doing that.


You can follow and find Akiba Solomon here and here.


Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for And a columnist for EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don’t.






talk lemonade 01



Sunday Talk: ‘Lemonade’

Follow me on social media!

Snapchat: sssseren


Did you know I wrote a book? ☺️ ‘So, About That… A Year of Contemporary Essays on Race and Pop Culture’



Digital download (e-book):



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warsan 01


OCTOBER 21, 2015

OCTOBER 21, 2015


The Writing Life 

of a Young, Prolific





The poet Warsan Shire writes primarily about the immigrant experience, but also tweets about reality television. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY AMAAL SAID

The poet Warsan Shire writes primarily about the immigrant experience, but also tweets about reality television.


It’s a rare poet who can write movingly about African migration to Europe and also tweet humorously about the VH1 reality show “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta.” Every generation of writers and readers has mourned the shrinking place of poetry in our lives, and they may not be wrong. They also may not be looking in the right places. Young poets are on Tumblr and Twitter, composing affecting and funny verse as short as a hundred and forty characters and also stretching much longer. Verse that is then reblogged and retweeted by thousands of followers who see themselves reflected in the posts. Of this new genre of poets, Warsan Shire, a twenty-six-year-old Somali-British woman, is a laureate.

Shire was the actual Young Poet Laureate of London in 2014, the city’s first. Born in Kenya to parents from Somalia, Shire grew up in London, where she has always felt like an outsider, and embodies the kind of shape-shifting, culture-juggling spirit lurking in most people who can’t trace their ancestors to their country’s founding fathers, or whose ancestors look nothing like those fathers. In that limbo, Shire conjures up a new language for belonging and displacement. What she has described, in an interview, as the “surrealism of everyday immigrant life—one day you are in your country, having fun, drinking mango juice, and the next day you are in the Underground in London and your children are speaking to you in a language you don’t understand.”

Her poetry evokes longing for home, a place to call home, and is often nostalgic for memories not her own, but for those of her parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, people who forged her idea of her ancestral homeland through their own stories. With fifty thousand Twitter followersand a similar number of Tumblr readers, Shire, more than most today, demonstrates the writing life of a young, prolific poet whose poetry or poem-like offhand thoughts will surface in one of your social media feeds and often be exactly what you needed to read, or what you didn’t know that you needed to read, at that moment.

In 2011, Shire published “Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth,” a spare collection of poems that was outsize in its sensuality, wit, and grief. She opens the book, her first, with “I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes / On my face they are still together.” In “Beauty,” she tells us of someone’s older sister: “Some nights I hear in her room screaming / We play Surah Al-Baqarah to drown her out / Anything that comes from her mouth sounds like sex / Our mother has banned her from saying God’s name.” In “Your Mother’s First Kiss,” she writes, “The first boy to kiss your mother later raped women / when the war broke out. She remembers hearing this / from your uncle, then going to your bedroom and lying down on the floor. You were at school.” At the end of the poem: “Last week, she saw him driving the number 18 bus / his week a swollen drumlin, a vine scar dragging itself / across his mouth. You were with her, holding a bag of dates to your chest, heard her let out a deep moan / when she saw how much you looked like him.”

How much of the book is autobiographical is never really made clear, but beside the point. (Though Shire has said, “I either know, or I am every person I have written about, for or as. But I do imagine them in their most intimate settings.”) It’s East African storytelling and coming-of-age memoir fused into one. It’s a first-generation woman always looking backward and forward at the same time, acknowledging that to move through life without being haunted by the past lives of your forebears is impossible.

Shire has said that she is most interested in writing about people whose stories are either not told or told inaccurately, especially immigrants and refugees, and so she brings out her Dictaphone when relatives come to her with tales from their experiences so that she can record them faithfully before turning them into poetry. Her tone lightens in “Maymuun’s Mouth” and “Birds.” In those poems, Shire writes tenderly and hilariously of a Somali woman removing her body hair and “dancing in front of strangers” as she adjusts to her new life abroad, and of a girl who, with pigeon’s blood, fooled her new husband and his mother into thinking she was a virgin. Later, evoking the memories of mothers caught in the worst turmoil of Somalia’s conflicts, “In Love and in War” reads, “To my daughter I will say / ‘when the men come, set yourself on fire.’ “ The collection feels confiding, occasionally brutal, but somehow still playful.

Since “Teaching My Mother,” Warshan’s profile has only grown. In addition to the Young Poet Laureate position, she received Brunel University’s inaugural African Poetry Prize, in 2013, was chosen as Queensland, Australia’s poet in residence in 2014, and has had her work published in various literary journals and anthologies. In June, the New York Timeseditorial board quoted from her poem “Home” in a piece urging Western countries to give more aid and safe passage to refugees: “You have to understand / that no one puts their children in a boat / unless the water is safer than land.” The editorial ran the same month that Shire tweeted about her adoration of a “Love & Hip-Hop” star known for her wild antics (“a bit in love with joseline”), which was a month before she tweeted “fat and perfect, perfect and black, black and fat and perfect” (retweeted three hundred and eighty-two times; she has struggled with bulimia), and a few months after she cryptically tweeted “mama i made it (out of your home alive),” retweeted two hundred and seventy-four times. Periodically, I will see tweets discovering a video of her reciting her most famous and viral poem, “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love,” which has become a self-affirmation mantra for lovelorn women online.

Shire’s work, she has said, is a project of “documentation, genealogy, preserving the names of the women came before me. To connect, honor, to confront.” But it’s her documenting of the present, always coming back to the subject of love and its many tender and punishing forms, that is enthralling. The simultaneous specificity and breadth of her appeal, across gender, race, and nationality based on her self-professed fans, is remarkable, and it took me by surprise the first time I started following her online. She tweeted “my dj name is dj eldest immigrant daughter” not long ago. I favorited it immediately.

Alexis Okeowo joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2015. She is working on a book about people standing up to extremism in Africa and is a fellow at the New America Foundation.





April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016



Detroit youth place

1st in national chess



(Photo: Courtesy of Catherine Martinez)

(Photo: Courtesy of Catherine Martinez)

Jada Hamilton was admittedly anxious as she eyed her opponent across the chess board at a Chicago hotel Sunday, anticipating the next move.

It was the final round in the 13th Annual KCF All-Girls National Championships, and the Detroit eighth-grader faced a rival in one last nerve-racking match. But by focusing, the teen checked the other girl’s king then forked her bishop, which eventually cinched a surprise win.

“I was pretty amazed,” the 13-year-old said, still sounding awed the next day. “It’s hard to describe how I felt that day because I was really happy.”

Jada’s victory, her coaches said, led to the University Prep Science & Math team earning first place in the “Under 14” category at the championships presented by Kasparov Chess Foundation, US Chess Federation and Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation.

The youths, all active in the acclaimed Detroit City Chess Club, were among more than 440 players, organizers said.

They had previously competed in the contest, but the top placing this year “was a significant win,” said head coach Kevin Fite. “We’ve won a lot of other national tournaments, but we’ve never won this one. … We were considerably the underdog in that section.”

To prep for the race, open to players with a US Chess Federation membership, the girls were tutored by a master, said assistant coach Kwabena Shabu.

“They put in a lot of hard work,” said Kamisha Hamilton, mother of Jada and twin sister Jaidyn, who also competed. “They were really determined.”

The payoff extended beyond the pawns, Shabu said. “We always tell them, every place they go, they represent Detroit. It’s a wonderful showing.”

Mastering the chess skills not only boosts the board battle but “helps you with school,” said Lauren Bradford, also an eighth-grader at University Prep. “I have an A in math. It helps with calculation and patience.”









April 12, 2016

April 12, 2016












By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor



It’s never too late to let your #BlackGirlMagic shine! Aboriginal artist Loongkoonan picked up painting in her late 90s, she’s now 105-years-old. Loongkoonan, who rejects her former “whitefella” name, Daisy, is the oldest speaker of the endangered Nyikina language and is a matriarch of the county by the same name in Western Australia. Loongkoonan uses her paintings (done in acrylic on paper and linen) to express her appreciation and respect for the land she once explored, by foot, grandparents. I paint Nyikina country the same way eagles see country when they are high up in the sky,” Loongkoonan told Mashable

Indigenart-Mossenson Galleries owner Diane Mossenson, the first buyer of Loongkoonan’s art explained that the artist uses the medium to record memories, traditions, and the history of the country. “Loongkoonan’s paintings are records of her connection to country which she foot walked all over when younger. They reflect her intimate knowledge of this land, and as such are a powerful record of Aboriginal heritage and knowledge,” Mossenson said.

Loongkoonan has created an estimated 380 paintings and shows no sign of slowing down. 

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at





Call for Papers (SAMLA)

—“Divining (the)

Circum-Caribbean South(s)”


In the context of the upcoming SAMLA (South Atlantic Modern Languages Association) conference, The Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL) invites submissions for “Divining (the) Circum-Caribbean South(s).” The deadline for submissions of abstracts (and bios) is June 1, 2016. [See description below.]

SAMLA 88 Conference will take place on November 4–6, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in Jacksonville, Florida. The conference’s focus is “Utopia/Dystopia: Whose Paradise Is It?”

As SAMLA heads to Jacksonville, Florida, for its 2016 conference, one recalls Keith Cartwright’s characterization of the state as a “longtime frontier[] of creolizing contact” (8): “Whether in Old South Jacksonville or St. Augustine, or south of that South in Miami’s creolizing space, Florida repeats itself as an ‘un-American’ frontier of the nation, a multi-ethnic borderland, a point of contested migration and immigration, a location of repeating racialized violence, and a divinatory contact space” (188). Engaging Florida’s creolizing history as a multi-ethnic, Caribbean, southern, national, and, indeed, anti-national space, the Society for the Study of Southern Literature invites proposals that engage (the) Circum-Caribbean South(s). We welcome a broad range of proposals that activate any location of the Circum-Caribbean region, investigating any form of cultural media: literature, poetry, live performance, music, film, television, visual art, et cetera. Channeling the “south of South” rubric explored through such works as Jessica Adams, Michael Bibler, and Cécile Accilien’s edited collection Just Below South (U Virginia P, 2007), Keith Cartwright’s Sacral Grooves, Limbo Gateways (UGA Press, 2013), and John Lowe’s Calypso Magnolia (UNC Press, 2016), this panel will explore and extend the “Caribbean turn” in southern studies. By June 1, 2016, please submit a 250-word abstract, brief bio, and a/v requirements to Stephanie Rountree, Georgia State University, at

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]


[Image above: Still from Ana Mendieta’s Ochún. Chosen to echo Keith Cartwright’s book cover for Sacral Grooves, Limbo Gateways; Source: ]









noemi press


The 2016 Noemi Book Award for Fiction and the 2016 Noemi Book Award for Poetry will be judged by the editors. The winners will receive $1000, publication by Noemi Press, and 10 author’s copies. 


Guidelines for Submissions

Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Noemi Press are given annually for one book-length poetry collection and one book-length work of fiction. The editors will judge. POETRY: Poets at any stage in their career may submit a manuscript of no more than 90 pages with a $25 entry fee by April 30. FICTION: Fiction writers at any stage in their career may submit a manuscript (no page limit) with a $25 entry fee by April 30. All manuscripts are read blind. Strip your manuscript of all identifying material, including title pages, dedications, and acknowledgements; otherwise, the manuscript will not be considered. Contest winners will be announced in summer 2016.










Science Fiction & Fantasy

GigaNotoSaurus accepts Science Fiction or Fantasy (or any combination thereof) from five thousand to twenty-five thousand words. We could wax eloquent describing the kinds of stories we like, but it wouldn’t be useful; there are dozens of things we don’t know we like until we try them.  Send us that story you really, really believe in–the one, maybe, that quickly ran out of places to submit it to because it’s so long.

We do want a variety of settings, styles, viewpoints, and backgrounds.  This includes but is not limited to cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, and genders.

GigaNotoSaurus publishes one story a month. We pay $100 per story on acceptance. We ask for first serial rights and non-exclusive, indefinite archival rights, though the author is welcome at any time to request a story be removed from the archive.

We do not accept simultaneous submissions (stories sent to more than one market at a time), nor do we accept multiple submissions–only send us one story at a time.  We do not accept reprints.  Your story must be previously unpublished.

To submit, please email your story to as an attachment. Please use Standard Manuscript Format, and make the attachment an RTF file. The subject line of your email should read “Submission: [Title]” where [Title] is the title of your story. You should receive a reply within thirty days.* Please do not query before thirty days has passed.

If you wish to include a cover note, the only information we require is your name, the title and length of your story, and your three best publication credits if you have any. (If you don’t, don’t worry about it. Just leave that line off.) Do not include a bio–if we buy your story, we will ask for biographical information. Do not include a summary or description of your story–your work will stand or fall on its own.


*Editor’s Note: As of March 2015, expect a longer response time for novellas (seventeen thousand words and up) — please allow forty-five to sixty days for a reply. Queries for novellas are appreciated after sixty days.