Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog


October 14, 2016

October 14, 2016








Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 11.31.48 PM.png


A report by Amílcar Sanatan for TeleSur.

There is a ‘lost history’ of radical women and women’s organizing
in the Caribbean for social and economic justice that changed
our landscape for more than a century.

When we think of great leaders, we think of presidents, prime ministers and heads of revolutionary movements. In our collective memory, we sometimes forget the immense sacrifices of left organizers for social, economic and political change. Yet, not all revolutionaries and martyrs are equal.

Working class, non-white, activist, and left women from the Global South suffer from the greatest invisibility. There is a ‘lost history’ of radical women and women’s organizing in the Caribbean for social and economic justice that changed our landscape for more than a century.

In what will forever be remembered as the July 26 Movement, a young Fidel Castro led a failed attack against the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba in an attempt to inspire a national uprising against dictator Batista. While many of his comrades were slaughtered in the action, the passionate and idealistic Fidel, in 1954 wrote a lengthy critique of capitalism in the Isle of Pines prison, decrying the social and economic ills of Cuba under dictatorial rule instead of making a defense regarding the charges brought against him.

In a speech that has been remembered for one of its precious lines, “History will absolve me,” Fidel Castro joined the distinguished tradition of revolutionaries who defended themselves in court by advancing their radical political beliefs.

One year before Fidel would be absolved by history, Claudia Jones, made her defense in a U.S. court challenging the imprisonment she faced because of her communist beliefs.

Claudia Jones was a prominent Caribbean radical organizer and thinker to communities in the U.S. and U.K. Jones combined Marxism-Leninism, decolonization, anti-imperialist and anti-sexist politics to make sense of the social and political situation of her day. Carol Boyce Davies places Jones’ lifelong revolutionary work into the canon of left radicalism that has too widely been interpreted in androcentric terms.

Even though we can consider Claudia Jones a “female political and intellectual equivalent of C.L.R James, “her omission from historical narratives, including left scholarship and analysis, has served to undermine the urgent theorizing of questions concerning women in general and Black women in the First and Third Worlds.

In 1953, under the Smith Act in the U.S., Claudia Jones
delivered a speech to the court at her trial for “subversive
activities” aimed at overthrowing the U.S. government. She
was sentenced to a year in jail, and afterward, was deported.
Her speech to the court was one of rhetorical brilliance. In
a section of her speech, she questions the logic of her sen-
tencing through a series of questions that illustrate the
irrationality and oppressive character of the charges
brought against her.

She expresses her political beliefs against the war in Korea, against the alienation of workers under capitalism and her support for freedom of speech. She described the trial as a “trial of ideas.” Jones stands firm in her convictions fearlessly, “I say these things not with any idea that what I say will influence your sentence of me. For, even with all the power your Honor holds, how can you decide to mete out justice for the only act to which I proudly plead guilty, and one, moreover, which by your own prior rulings constitutes no crime—that of holding Communist ideas”

Before Fidel and his case against the economic and social misery of Cuba, before Claudia and her communist convictions, Elma Francois, a domestic worker and labor organizer, on sedition charges, defended herself. Francois was born in St. Vincent and migrated to Trinidad and Tobago as a worker in 1919. She began as a domestic worker.

She joined the Trinidad Workingman’s Association. Her militancy grounded in Garveyite consciousness and working class politics put her at odds with the leadership of Captain A. A. Cipriani who led the TWA. Later, Elma Francois founded the Negro Welfare Cultural and Social Association (NWCSA), a Marxist-oriented labor organization that sought the empowerment of primarily ‘Negro people’ but recruited non-Afro members as well.

What made this organization stand out from many other organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean at the time was Elma Francois’ commitment to the notion that there should be no sex separation in the executive structure of the NWCSA. She was vehemently against the establishment of a “women’s arm/auxiliary” as a substitution for greater equality in the labor leadership.

Elma Francois was the first woman in the history of Trinidad and Tobago tried for sedition in 1938. During her self-defense, Francois outlined the outlook of the Negro Welfare Cultural and Social Association and its commitment to the development and empowerment of the oppressed ‘Negro people’ of the West Indies. She then drew on examples of international struggles and discerned what is most to her cause, she cited, for example, land struggles in Kenya and workers’ mobilizations in the U.K.

More poignantly, she argued that workers are concerned with transforming their material conditions above all else, “I said that hundreds of workers were being placed in jail. I said that jail sentences and executions do not solve our problems. It is only by organized unity that we can … better our conditions … I said workers of the world were not prepared to fight in any way but for bread, peace and liberty.” Unlike Claudia Jones, eventually, she was found not guilty.

The parallels among Francois, Jones and Fidel are as remarkable as they are unsurprising. All these revolutionaries on trial linked their causes to broader struggles of workers against exploitation of the ruling classes internationally and expressed their political beliefs fearlessly in defense of intellectual and political freedom. In this sense then, Claudia Jones and Elma Francois belong to a long radical tradition of revolutionary self-defense and are deserving of historical absolution.




October 4, 2016

October 4, 2016




Issa Rae on Making

Black Experiences

‘Regular’ Events on TV



Photo: Andre Wagner

Photo: Andre Wagner

“I still feel regular. I’m not going to lie,” Issa Rae tells me when I ask her how it feels to be the first black woman to helm her own TV show on HBORegular is a word she returned to a few times when describing her artistic approach, but by the end of our conversation, I felt as if Issa Rae were the definition of the popular term black girl magic, and not at all Insecure, as her new show is titled.

“When I first saw my face on a billboard I pulled over and took pictures and did dances, but really, I’m always working on what’s next. I’m 31 now so I kind of know myself and have a group of friends that I love that are outside of the industry, and I just feel like this is still a job at the end of the day. It doesn’t define me.” Ironic, considering her show centers on a young black woman struggling to find her identity.

She describes her upbringing in Potomac, Maryland, as a time of rich exposure to different kinds of people that helped develop her worldview. “I wasn’t really aware of my blackness even though I was around people who were Indian and Jewish, et cetera. They were just my friends. It wasn’t until I moved back to Los Angeles and reflected on those times that I was like, ‘Oh!’ I really wasn’t aware of my blackness as much because nobody else would have talked about it. In terms of trying to figure out what was the definition of blackness, and if I didn’t fit that definition — that stuck with me for years.”

Her way of connecting to black culture was through movies — classics like Love & Basketball, for which she would later do a tribute episode on her first award-winning web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. “At 16, I just remember looking at [Love & Basketball] wide-eyed, wanting to watch it again immediately afterward and feeling like, ‘Okay, I could do this,’ because it was in my neighborhood and it was just super black but not about being black, which I love — it was just regular.”

In high school, Rae started taking acting seriously. “I had a really great drama teacher who was super encouraging. Then I stopped taking it seriously in college. But when I finally got behind the scenes in terms of directing, producing, and writing I realized what it could be for me,” she recalls.

Photo: Andre Wagner

Photo: Andre Wagner

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During her freshman year of college at Stanford, her dad pressured her to study political science. She also took African-American studies and began examining black works of art, slowly building up the confidence to do her own thing. Inspiration struck when a classmate recognized there were no plays at Stanford with characters of color, and proceeded to write a hip-hop opera on her own. “I remember watching it and thinking, That’s dope. The next year I said to myself, If she can do it, I can do it too.

Dorm Diaries, a show she put together with friends, was what she has called her “lightbulb” moment, showing black people in everyday situations while not focusing inherently on their blackness. “I was trying to break into the industry traditionally by writing and entering contests, and quickly figured it is really a ‘who you know’ industry. And so I put out this web series for fun and people from other colleges watched it. It probably had a couple thousand views but it was a huge deal to me just in terms of realizing I had direct access to an audience to make stuff and put it online.”

After college she founded Color Creative, an organization to help other writers of color get the tools to succeed in Hollywood. While working at the Public Theater, she tried making independent films, but in a terrible turn of events, was robbed of all her equipment and scripts. “I laugh now, but it was devastating at the time because, coupled with all my writing projects, I had original tapes of film that were gone.” She made it one more year in New York but eventually moved home to live with her parents in Los Angeles.

Photo: Andre Wagner

Photo: Andre Wagner

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“At the time I was watching a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Officeand kept thinking, Where are the black people? I love that kind of humor and there’s such a separation between what is considered black humor and what’s considered white humor. I knew I had a smaller camera [than before], it wasn’t as good, but I knew how to edit and I thought, Let me just see what other projects I can do and keep writing. That was when I came up with the idea for Awkward Black Girl and proposed it to my friend to play the lead.”

In her 2015 book of essays, also titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girlshe bemoans, “How hard is it to portray a three-dimensional woman of color on television or film? I’m surrounded by them, they’re my friends, I talk to them every day. How come Hollywood won’t acknowledge us? Are we a joke to them?” As far as seeing more diversity on the small screen now, Rae says she is more optimistic. “I’m seeing how the tides are changing and how people like Shonda Rhimes and Mara Brock Akil are changing things. In addition to my peers, Justin Simien (Dear White People) and Lena Waithe (Master of None) are trying to put black people and black stories at the forefront. I feel like I’m always getting closer to a position where I can really try to make a change.”

Photo: Andre Wagner

Photo: Andre Wagner

Derek Lam Top, $338 at the Outnet, Joseph Pants, $520 at Joseph, Khiry Earrings, $295 at Khiry, Khiry Bracelet, $425 at Khiry, Cartier Ring pre-owned, $1,995 at Vestiaire Collective.

When I ask her about the prevalence of bits like Jimmy Kimmel’s skit about diversity at the Emmys that have become a recurring joke at award shows, she gets more serious. “You’ve got these old executives that need to die off, or be replaced. And little by little that’s happening.” Shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, and A Different World are coming back in new forms with Black-ishEmpire, Atlantaand Power, but there’s no denying that television has a long way to go to get back to how pro-black it used to be. “I look back on Living Single and how I took that for granted because there are no more shows like that. That was the original Friendsand it was just black people. And Girlfriends paved the way for what we’re doing now with Insecure.”

Insecure follows Rae’s character, also named Issa and loosely based on her, on her journey through young adulthood. “It’s me if I didn’t know what I wanted to do and if I made different decisions. A lot of the characters are based off of friends or people I know.” Along with juggling Insecureher passion project Color Creative is what she says will contribute to changing the scope of Hollywood. “For me it’s just to give other writers and creatives the opportunity to have experience, which is the No. 1 reason that stupid, racist Hollywood executives give for not hiring people of color.”

Photo: Andre Wagner

Photo: Andre Wagner

M. Martin Sweater, price upon request at M. Martin, Ann Taylor Skirt, $109 at Ann Taylor, Khiry Earrings, $295 at Khiry, Khiry Bracelet, $425 at Khiry, Cartier Ring pre-owned, $1,995 at Vestiaire Collective.

In hindsight, she says, a young Issa Rae had unrealistic goals. “In my mind I wanted to win an Oscar by the time Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did (Damon was 27, Affleck was 25), but with no script. I thought that by 25 you have to be a millionaire, and for what? I wasn’t doing enough work to get there, but I was setting myself up for disappointment. I’ve learned to work at my own pace and stop comparing myself to others, that’s the biggest advice I’d give.”

Is she nervous for the premiere? “On a scale of one to ten … I’m a seven. And the other three is because I have other television projects, film ideas — just the opportunity to work with HBO and other content creators, I don’t feel like I have this one idea and it’s the end all, be all.”

When I ask her about her definition of what blackness is now, she quickly says, “I don’t have one. I just feel like it could be anything. There’s no limit to what blackness can be. It’s like I’m black and if you try to tell me any different, like, fuck you, what do you know? You know? There are no issues or questions on my end at all. What I do is for the culture, and I’m so proud of the culture.”

Lead image photo: Joseph Coat $2,940 at Joseph, Saint Laurent Sweater, $396 at the Outnet, Agnona Pants, $475 at the Outnet, Khiry Earrings, $295 at Khiry, Cartier Ring pre-owned, $1,995 at Vestiaire Collective.

Photos by Andre Wagner, makeup by Joanna Simkin, hair by Felicia Leatherwood, styling by Lindsay Peoples.




October 18, 2016

October 18, 2016











by Aya de Leon



The promos and trailers for Issa Rae’s new HBO series Insecure don’t do justice to the show. They can’t. Because the show is character-driven, and the characters are nuanced, textured, and beautifully drawn. They’re young Black adults we’ve never seen on television before.

The show launches from the wild success of Issa Rae’s YouTube series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and her bestselling book of the same name. The web series was a wonderful, funny DIY project the Stanford grad made in her mid-20s. In the web series, Issa played J, a single twentysomething working for a diet pill company and navigating the awkwardness of office relationships and dating. The show went viral, and in 2013, HBO greenlit a series deal for her. Rae spent three years developing the series, and all that hard work has clearly paid off. The show’s humor is the stuff of real life, and its best jokes require more than a two-second setup and a one-second punchline. When I saw the premiere at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland, I liked it. But it was during the second episode—after I’d had a chance to follow the characters through two storylines—that I completely fell in love. Not only do we see nuanced portrayals of two young Black women, but we also see incredibly insightful and subtle portrayals of their Black male counterparts.

The show is cocreated by Issa Rae and comedian Larry Wilmore, and it revolves around 29-year-old Issa and her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) as they navigate daily life, work, and relationships. Issa works at a community nonprofit, while Molly is a high-powered corporate attorney. Molly is unhappy being single, while Issa has a loyal boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis) who can’t seem to get his act together.

Molly (Yvonne Orji) and Issa (Issa Rae) in Insecure.

Molly (Yvonne Orji) and Issa (Issa Rae) in Insecure.

To say that the show is unique is an understatement. But it’s not without antecedents. In Insecure, I see shades of Ellen DeGeneres (whose sitcom was the first I can recall that was built around female awkwardness), young Black professional women from Living Single, and the Black feminist comedy of Wanda Sykes. It also fits nicely alongside Girls, which has opened up space on TV for this generation of women’s awkward and explicit stories, and Shonda Rhimes’s Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Rhimes’s shows properly capture the gorgeousness of dark brown women, which requires a set of technical skills in an industry that is calibrated to the beauty of blonde white women.

Female awkwardness, young Black women trying to make it in the city, raunchy sisters, gritty millennial reality, and breakthroughs in showcasing dark brown beauty—I think of these factors as conspiring together to slap down Hollywood’s tradition of racism, sexism, classism, and colorism. This is not to say these aforementioned shows influenced Issa Rae directly; rather, their various successes came together to create the Hollywood that could even imagine making her show.

Yet Black women who fall outside the realm of what’s considered commercially attractive have occasionally been able to make their own place in Hollywood—as long as they’ve already built their own audiences they could bring with them. Whoopi Goldberg in the ‘80s and Queen Latifah in the ‘90s each built a following in comedy and hip hop, respectively, before landing screen roles. Once Black women have put in years of work building success, Hollywood is always willing to capitalize. But in the past, that never included a dark brown woman writing and starring in her own show. In this moment, this golden era of TV, such a thing is possible. Issa Rae worked for years to create and promote her own fantastic web series, and now she’s found a home in Hollywood. 

I really cannot express just how refreshing the show is as an antidote to racism and colorism in Hollywood. Darker brown women have traditionally been sidelined in Hollywood, given roles as the funny friend or the crazy neighbor, but never the main character. How to Get Away with Murder is the first show in which we see two darker brown women in a large ensemble cast. In Insecure, we get to see two brown-skinned women fully occupying the center of a series. In particular, in a community where hair is profoundly politicized, it’s refreshing to see these women have different hairstyles: Issa has short natural hair and Molly has a long weave. Her short hair isn’t a point of tension in her relationship with her boyfriend, it’s just taken as a given that she’s desirable without conforming in any way to white beauty standards.

Issa and Lawrence (Jay Ellis) just doing what couples do.

Issa and Lawrence (Jay Ellis) just doing what couples do.

The conversation about colorism is openly on the table in the show. In the pilot, Molly notes how Black men are often interested in women of all colors, including mixed-heritage women, but aren’t interested in Black women who aren’t mixed. In another scene, a lighter-skinned woman is presented as complacent in her relationship, while Molly and Issa feel pressured to settle for less. We see both of them navigating dating and relationships in today’s hookup culture and struggling to be taken seriously by some of the men who interest them.

Not only does Insecure offer an expansive exploration of Black women’s experiences, it also expands mainstream TV narratives about socioeconomic class in the Black community. Starting in the ‘70s, when TV was being integrated, we got shows like Good Times and Sanford and Son, comedies about Black poor and working-class families. And of course, we had The Jeffersons, where George and Weezy were “movin’ on up,” but George continued to be a buffoon, a racial and class misfit whose ostensibly uncouth behavior was the butt of many of the jokes, playing to white anxiety about Black people moving in next door. In contrast, we had the ‘90s with the Black middle-class fantasy family: the Huxtables. Any white family should be delighted to have them next door. They were just hilarious and harmless. Their family was devoid of any kind of struggle. No encounters with racism. With two Black professional parents who seemed to have nothing but leisure time. It was the ultimate fantasy. And in recent years, I have argued that Bill Cosby’s reality was the shadow side of that fantasy. The lie in that world is that racism doesn’t really exist. And the truth of Bill Cosby is that sexual trauma is a huge part of our legacy from slavery—one that is acted out daily in sexual violence in our community. Part of the lure of the Huxtable fantasy is that struggle is optional.

In Insecure, struggle is inevitable, even for Black characters who have gone to college, who may have been raised middle class, or who may have high-powered professional careers. According to Issa Rae at the premiere, “The journey [the show’s characters take] is becoming comfortable in the fact that you may never be comfortable.” And this is what she portrays: the inevitable awkwardness of being human, or the search for financial security in today’s world. Another interesting subtle difference between the two lead characters has to do with their class backgrounds and class aspirations. Molly is raised in the hood and has become a high-powered attorney. As she says to one of her corporate clients: “They want us to be more environmentally responsible, but it’s like, seriously, why do we need trees?” In contrast, Issa is raised middle class and works for a nonprofit agency. Yet we see them both grapple with different flavors of racism on the job: liberal and conservative. Issa works for a community organization called We Got Y’all, and its staff mostly consists of white people, including a patronizing white executive director. At the premiere, Issa Rae called it her “nightmare non-profit” fueled by “white guilt.” The opportunities for scathing parody and social commentary are endless. Sometimes, it’s the little things. I missed this in the premiere, but noticed it in later episodes: In the We Got Y’all logo, there are silhouettes of kids of color being held up by a giant white hand. That just says it all.

Another thing I really appreciate about Insecure is the fact that we aren’t stuck only in the dating storyline like we were in Awkward Black Girl. With two female protagonists, we get to see one trying to get into a relationship and the other trying to figure out if she wants to stay in one. What does it mean to compromise, and is there a difference between that and settling? In a sexist and racist landscape that tells Black women they’re lucky to have any relationship, this is a crucial opportunity to see Black relationships beyond the honeymoon phase. Issa complains to Molly about her relationship: “There’s no excitement… Sometimes I wish he’d just, like, slap the shit out of me out of angry passion. Not really. But kind of.” Molly responds dryly: “So you’re an idiot. That’s cool.” In Issa, we get to see a young woman five years into her first long-term relationship. She compares her experiences to unrealistic expectations fueled by the distortions of romance, pornography, and rap videos, and the show utilizes imagery effectively to tell a more complex story. There is a visually stunning montage of the couple’s history on the couch they bought for their shared apartment that beautifully represents the challenges of maintaining intimate relationships. Yet the show is a comedy, and this piece of furniture is later referred to as a “bouch.” Trust me. It’s hilarious.

In questioning her relationship, we see a young woman doing what so many of us are conditioned to do: obsess about our relationships when there’s a larger void in our lives. Like in Awkward Black Girl, Issa writes and delivers hip hop rhymes into the mirror. At the premiere, I asked Issa Rae if there were plans to develop Issa as a hip hop artist. She responded that hip hop is solely a form of self-expression for the character. As an artist who has struggled to succeed, I am a sucker for stories about artists trying to make it. Issa Rae is brilliantly ambitious, and I wonder where that part of her autobiography might land in the series. I notice that ambition is often removed from female characters in media in general and comedy in particular. I was a fan of Whitney Cummings’s TV show Whitney until the character began to bore me because she didn’t really have a job. All this while Cummings was doing her own show and had a hand in another hit show, 2 Broke Girls. The absence of ambition in her own show bothered me. Issa Rae is definitely an ambitious writer and performer. And, unlike in Whitney, her character has a strong work storyline and is reaching for more out of life.

Issa Rae’s Insecure is a treasure of a show, a tribute to young Black womanhood that might never have happened in a previous era. But as Issa’s no-fucks-given rap persona might say: We here now, motherfuckers. Deal wid it!

Writer Coco Peila contributed significantly to this article. 


Aya de Leon is the author of the feminist heist novel Uptown Thief, which was published in July 2016. She blogs at











Call for Submissions:

African Literature Today (ALT) 35

Focus on Egypt



Nawal El Sadaawi

Nawal El Sadaawi

Egypt, a historically important and strategically located North African country, is also a leading nation in the Arab world.  This special issue of African Literature Today will focus on Egyptian Literature and examine writers whose works have enriched African Literature through history.  Of special interest are works that depict historical forces, cultural and socio-political factors that have shaped and influenced the evolution and development of contemporary Egyptian literature.

Yusuf Idris

Yusuf Idris

Approaches include (but are not limited to) critical explorations of folklore, myths, memoirs, poetry, short stories, and novels which capture the mood of the nation and the human condition at a particular point in time. Creativity has flourished in Arabic as well as the English language, producing acclaimed national and international writers-Naguib Mahfouz, Yusuf Idris, Nawal El Saadawi, Ahdaf Soueif, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Alifa Rifaat (Fatimah Rifaat), to mention but a few-whose thematic concerns have been as versatile as they have been controversial.

The Editor seeks articles that explore the diverse genres of Egyptian Literature depicting in particular, ideas of human rights, justice and freedom; feminism against the backgrounds of intractable patriarchy; women’s rights versus religious fundamentalism; socio-political transformations and the quest for a new order, etc.
In addition to the focused theme, submissions are also invited for two new sections in this issue:

*   LITERARY SUPPLEMENT:  short creative writing selections-poetry, short story and drama (one-act plays);
*   FEATURED ARTICLES:  non-themed articles on any aspect of African Literature.

All submissions should be sent to the Series Editor, Ernest N. Emenyonu,<>

Deadline: 15 December 2016

Articles are reviewed blindly so do not insert your name, institutional affiliation and contact information on the article itself.  Instead provide this information on a separate page.   Please also provide an abstract of your article not exceeding 200 words in a separate file.  Both the abstract and personal profile should be submitted with the article but as separate attachments.

Further Guidelines:

Length:  Articles should not exceed 5,000 words

Format:  Articles should be double- spaced throughout.  Use the same typeface and size throughout the article.

Style:      UK or US spellings, but be consistent.  Direct quotation should retain the spelling used in the original source.  Check the accuracy of your citations and always give the source, date, and page number in the text and a full reference in the works cited at the end of the article.  Italicize titles of books or plays.  Use single inverted commas throughout except for quotations within quotations which are double.  Avoid subtitles or subsection headings within the text.

References: Follow the series style [Surname, date: page number] in brackets in text. All references/works cited should be listed in full at the end of each article, in the following style:

Surname, name/initial, title of work, place: publisher, date.

Surname, name/initial. ‘title of article’. In surname, name/initial [ed.] title of work. Place of publication, publisher, date.

or Surname, name/initial, ‘title of article’, Journal, vol. no.: page no.

REVIEW SECTION: Deadline for submission:  28 February 2017
Please submit Reviews/review ideas/books to review for consideration to the Reviews Editor, Obi Nwakanma, English Department, Colburn Hall, 12790 Aquarius Agora Drive, Orlando, FL 32816, USA.<>

Submissions and other enquires should be directed to:

Ernest N. Emenyonu, PhD
Professor & Chair
Editor, African Literature Today
Department of Africana Studies
University of Michigan-Flint
Flint, MI 48502-1950<>












Organized around the theme “Islands,” the CEA 48th Annual Conference will take place March 30-April 1, 2017, at the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The College English Association, a gathering of scholar-teachers in English studies, welcomes proposals for presentations on Caribbean Literature for their 48th annual conference. The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2016.

Conference Theme: Islands

For our annual meeting in beautiful Hilton Head, SC, the College English Association invites you to join us in exploring the idea of the island.  The Sea Pine shell ring, over 15,000 years old, once sheltered Native Americans who occupied Hilton Head seasonally.  Gullah and Geechee culture emerged on the island as freed slaves sought sanctuary there at the end of the Civil War.  How, then, are islands in literature and film, as in life, places of desperate refuge and welcome escape?  What respites do they provide? Are islands imagined utopias, or do they offer only barriers and isolation?  Finally, is the study of composition, film, language, literature, and writing, a kind of island amidst the tempest of the current attack on the humanities?

We welcome individual and panel presentation proposals that address Caribbean literatures in general, including—but not limited to—the following possible themes: Caribbean islands as construct, form, metaphor, motif, or icon; Caribbean islands as setting and its impact on character, conflict and resolution, and/or theme in film and literature; The cost of islands; Racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, class, and national identities; Colonization and empire; Nationalism and citizenship; Hybridity, transculturation, creolite, and mestizaje; Resistance and resilience; Migration, exile, transnationalism, and/or globalization; Travel and tourism; Orality and the spoken word; Intertextuality; Diasporic theory and Caribbean literatures; Postcolonial studies and Caribbean literatures; and Comparative literary, historical, political, or cultural analyses of Caribbean literatures.

Call for Papers: In addition to our conference theme, we also welcome proposals in any and all of the areas English and writing departments encom­pass.  We also solicit papers on all areas that influence our lives as academics as well as those that address the profession broadly.

Proposals should be submitted electronically through our conference management database housed at the following web address:

Proposals should be between 250 and 500 words in length and should include a title.  Please note that only one proposal may be submitted per participant.  Notifications of proposal status will be sent in early December.

Submitting electronically involves creating a user ID, then using that ID to log in – this time to a welcome page.  A link then will be provided for submitting your proposal under one (or two) of the following appropriate topic areas. Submission Dates: August 15-November 1, 2016.

Membership: All presenters must join CEA by the first of January 2017 to appear on the program.  To join or to find out more information about the organization and conference, please see the CEA website at

Please address comments or questions to Laura Barrio-Vilar, Caribbean Literature Special Topics Chair, at, or Lynne Simpson, CEA Vice-President and Program Chair, at


[Image above: Miranda by John William Waterhouse; source:]

For more detailed information, see









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Shifting the Geography of Reason XIV: Theorizing Livity, Decolonizing Freedom Jamaica – Summer 2017 

Jamaican Rastafari coined the neologism “livity” to denote a particular “way of life,” a righteous “way of life.” Comprehensive in scope, livity can refer to dietary habits, personal aesthetics, and/or the various beliefs, whether secular or metaphysical, that guide our actions in the everyday lifeworld. An unreservedly normative concept, livity concerns our daily existence as well as our most fundamental relationships – specifically, our relationships with nature, other human beings, and the divine, broadly conceived. The concept of livity calls into question the hegemonic conception of freedom – a largely colonial conception – which has been articulated and practiced in terms of hyper-individualism, insatiable acquisitiveness, and the will to domination. This is of particular salience in the modern Caribbean, which has been shaped by conquest, slavery, global capitalism, and the neoliberal turn as well as abolition, political independence, and the ongoing struggle for decolonization. To equate “liberation” or “emancipation” with this conception of freedom, therefore, belies the complexity of the decolonial project and risks further colonization.

We encourage proposals that explore these two themes – livity and freedom – and we invite, as always, proposals that otherwise reflect our commitment to “shift the geography of reason.” Submit your proposals online at by by Monday, December 19th and please include the full name, email address, institutional affiliation, and paper title of each potential participant. (Proposals from independent scholars are also encouraged.) Questions about this conference should be directed to Additional details, including specific dates and location, are forthcoming.

Founded in 2003 in Mona, Jamaica, the principal goal of the Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA) is to support the free exchange of ideas and foster an intellectual community that is truly representative of the diversity of voices and perspectives that is paradigmatic of, but not limited to, the Caribbean. The Caribbean is thus understood not solely as a geopolitical region, but as a trope to investigate dimensions of the multiple undersides of modernity. Likewise, philosophy is conceived, not as an isolated academic discipline, but as rigorous theoretical reflection about fundamental problems faced by humanity. Understood in this way, Caribbean philosophy is a transdisciplinary form of interrogation aiming to elucidate fundamental questions that emerge with discovery, conquest, racial, gender, and sexual domination, genocide, dependency, and exploitation as well as freedom, emancipation, and decolonization.










By Robb Patryk

(October 15, 2016) The late Pops Staples, patriarch of the legendary Staples Singers, laid down his final tracks in 1999, but was unable to complete the recordings before his death in 2000.  Fifteen years later, his daughter Mavis Staples teamed up with producer Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer and guitarist for Wilco, to finish them; Tweedy and his son added bass and drums, and Mavis additional vocals. The resulting posthumous album, Don’t Lose This, was released last year, and somehow it escaped our notice. The title has special significance: After asking to hear his new recordings shortly before his death, and being pleased by them, Pops was heard to say “Mavis, don’t lose this here.”  Lucky for us, she listened. This record is simply delightful.

We feature here 2 tracks, the album’s opener, “Somebody Was Watching,” a bluesy, mid-tempo song of praise featuring Pops’s spare, spikey electric guitar work and his still-silky, thick lead vocal, and “Love On My Side,” with Mavis on vocals and Pops delivering blistering, distorted guitar licks.  Enjoy.  












DJ JaBig


DEEP & DOPE 253 #MusicMondayMix track listing:

01 – Seven Times MKL
02 – A Better Place (Faze Action Remix) Victor Davies
03 – The Bottle Gil Scott-Heron
04 – Nights Over Egypt (Masters At Work Main Mix) Incognito
05 – Little L Jamiroquai
06 – Music in Me (Come Alive) DJ Spinna feat. Shaun Escoffery
07 – Closer Than Close (Mentor Original Mix) Rosie Gaines
08 – El Camino Part 2 Shazz
09 – Contours Human Interaction
10 – Time Pete Dafeet & Miami Ice, Sara Brito
11 – Feed The Cat (BB Boogie Remix) Agent K
12 – On The Sea BUSCEMI
13 – Waiting Line (Yoruba House Dub Mix) Zero 7
14 – Who Am I Boddhi Satva feat. Athenai & C. Robert Walker
15 – Nawe (Chymamusique Classical Remix) Cubique DJ CB
16 – Leave Me Alone (Jamsteady Edit) Kaytranada (Feat. Shay Lia)
17 – Jus Dance (Zepherin Saint Mix) Mr. V
18 – When I Fall In Love A:bus
19 – Far Away (The Layabouts Vocal Mix) MdCL pres. Lady Alma
20 – Brighter Days (Deep Journey Main) Rancido feat. Lex Empress
21 – Never Stop (Louie Vega Long Mix) Duane Harden, Louie Vega & David Morales
22 – Hiya Kaya the Return (QB’s Bootleg) [feat. MdCL] Khensy
23 – It’s on 2nyt Lady X  
24 – Mystify Me Justin Michael & MuSol Feat Ka