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October 22, 2015

October 22, 2015




The story of one girl

who fought abduction,

and the lawyers

who saved her life

Tizita Hagere (right) plays the role of 14-year-old Hirut Assefa in 'Difret.' Credit: Truth Aid Media

Tizita Hagere (right) plays the role of 14-year-old Hirut Assefa in ‘Difret.’ Credit: Truth Aid Media

Listen to the Story.

Listen to the Story. > play

The word “Difret” has many shades of meaning in Ethiopia’s language Amharic: it can mean both “to dare” and “to have courage,” but also “to be violated.”

Like its title, the film “Difret” represents many things: it’s a work of fiction based on a true story of courage and change; it’s one of the only films from Ethiopia shot on 35mm film; and it’s got big name recognition in the form of executive producer Angelina Jolie Pitt. But above all, the film tells the story about a traditional practice through the experience of one frightened girl caught in a whirlwind beyond her control.

“Difret” is based on the story of Aberash Bekele — called Hirut in the film — a girl who was abducted by men on horseback outside her rural Ethiopian village. It’s the day she’s promoted to 5th grade in school. Her captor — who failed to get her father’s permission to marry her — insists he now has the right to marry her according to a tradition known as telefa. But she fights back, accidentally killing him. She faces a death sentence until attorney Meaza Ashenafi steps in to fight for her. The resulting courtroom drama riveted the nation in 1996, when it took place. 

“People started to talk about abduction all over again,” Meaza Ashenafi recalls now. “It was a given, especially in the south of the country, women have been abducted for years. There was no question about it. But this case opened up a discussion and dialogue around this traditional practice.”

Ashenafi had just established the Women Lawyer’s Association two years earlier to fight for the rights of women according to Ethiopia’s then-new constitution. 

“Difret” played to sold-out audiences in Addis Ababa for six weeks. When the filmmakers looked to take it abroad, they sent it to Jolie, a well-known advocate for women’s rights in Africa.

“A foreign-language film from Africa has a tough road ahead for it in terms getting to an audience,” filmmaker Mehret Mandefro admits. “So having her support really helped us … reach people I don’t think we could ever reach.”

A scene from "Difret" depicts the horseback kidnapping of the main character. Credit: Truth Aid Media

A scene from “Difret” depicts the horseback kidnapping of the main character.
Credit: Truth Aid Media

Despite the big-name support and the success of “Difret,” Ashenafi and Mandrefo say their work is not done: they estimate that at least 20 percent of marriages in the south of Ethiopia are coerced through some form of telefa.

“This has to stop,” Ashenafi says. “This should not be tolerated at all.”

As for the subject of the film itself, Mandrefo says she had a hard life — after the case, she wasn’t allowed to return to her village or family. She attended boarding schoool, and later decided to change her name and leave Ethiopia. But she’s recently returned and working on the issue of telefa, hoping to keep girls from facing an ordeal like she did.










JUNE 23, 2015

JUNE 23, 2015




10 Coming-of-Age


Created by

Black Women.


While representation is important, the creators of that representation are equally important. The release and subsequent critiques of the black, French coming-of-age film “Girlhood” has spurred a lot of really compelling discussion about the importance of representation created for and by black women. Coming-of-age stories about black women and girls are especially rare and direly needed. With that, here are some coming-of-age stories, created by black women filmmakers, that we highly recommend.

Late Expectations.

Written and produced by Thais Francis, and directed by Laurie Arakaki, “Late Expectations” is an upcoming short film about a teenage girl coming to terms with her identity. According to the film’s creators,

India is a high school senior living in Brooklyn, she’s gotten a full scholarship to Brown University and is a model student, good daughter, fun best friend and loving girlfriend. On the outside, she seems to be living the teenage dream. However, it is all a lie. Internally, she is tormented, and hides a secret that threatens to end her most important relationships. She finally gains the courage to reveal her double life but discovers something that shatters her world completely.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign Late Expectations has finally been completed. For screening information and updates go to Watch a Trailer Below.

Summer of Gods

“Written and directed by filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento, Summer of Gods is a short film that stars a young Afro Brazilian girl as she tries to explore her history. The film, which has drawn some comparisons to Beasts of The Southern Wild, mixes fantasy and history through the use of Yoruba folklore.”

Summer of Gods is currently screening at several film festivals, but you can purchase the DVD or online streaming access at

Seventh Grade

Created by filmmaker Stefani Saintonge, “Seventh Grade” is an award-winning short film and a coming-of-age story about a young black girl dealing with sex and sexuality. Its synopsis states: “Everyone is growing up except Patrice. But when a raunchy rumor threatens her best friend’s reputation, she’s forced to join the party and embrace adolescence.”

Watch the short film, in its entirety, below.

Seventh Grade from Stefani Saintonge on Vimeo.

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.

Written and directed by Leslie Harris, Just Another Girl on the I.R.T is an honest and raw indie picture.

Chantel Mitchell (Ariyan Johnson), a hip, articulate, black high-school girl in Brooklyn, is determined not to become “just another girl on the IRT” (the IRT is one of NYC’s subway lines). She dreams of medical school, a family, and an escape from the generational poverty and street-corner life her friends seem to have accepted as their lot. But personal and sexual challenges confront Chantel on her way to fulfilling these dreams.

Check out a trailer for the film below, you can stream or purchase it on Amazon.


Written and directed by Bessie filmmaker Dee Rees, Pariah was also a breakout film for actress Adepero Oduye.

A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

Watch Pariah on iTunesAmazon, and Netflix DVD.

Selah, and the Spades

“Created by photographer, filmmaker and artist Tayarisha Poe, Selah, and the Spades is a multimedia, multipart film that incorporates film, short stories, photography, music, and social media to create a hazy, yet, realistic glimpse into the life of Selah, a young black girl in a small town, who is learning to define herself, and critique the world around her.”

Check out a trailer for the film below, and watch the entire project at

Selah, and the Spades.: Why Spirit Squad from Tayarisha Poe on Vimeo.

Queen Of Glory

Queen of Glory is an offbeat dark comedy starring rising star Nana Mensah as the conflicted American child of immigrants.

Queen of Glory” is the story of Sarah Obeng, the brilliant child of Ghanaian immigrants, who is quitting her Ivy League PhD program to follow her married lover to Ohio. When her mother dies suddenly, she bequeaths her daughter a Christian bookstore in the Pelham Parkway section of the Bronx where Sarah was raised. A follow-up on the classic immigrant’s tale, Queen of Glory provokes laughter and empathy, as its heroine is reborn through her inheritance.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the film is currently screening on the film festival circuit. Watch a trailer below, and follow Queen of Glory on Facebook for updates.

Fried Ice Cream

FRIED ICE CREAM follows AKEEBAH & SLOAN, two mix-matched peas in a pod living and finding themselves in the summer solstice of inner-city Atlanta. Faced with ultimatums by their parental figures and Sallie Mae to work summer jobs to afford their last semester in college, they arbitrarily become ice-cream truck drivers in West End Atlanta. Quirky adventures ensue when their entrepreneurial spirits become hallucinogenic.

Colorful, whimsical, and dark, the film will nostalgically explore the turbulence and beauty of maturing in a neighborhood filled with the ups and downs.”

Fried Ice Cream is currently in production, follow the The House of June, on Facebook for updates. Watch a concept trailer below.

The Summer Is Ours from House of June on Vimeo.

Say Grace Before Drowning

Say Grace Before Drowning is an award-winning short film by Nikyatu Jusu.

After meeting her African Refugee mother for the first time in six years, 8 year old Hawa is forced to coexist with a woman teetering on the brink of insanity.

Watch the film in its entirety below.


Eve’s Bayou

This quintessential African-American film was written and directed by Kasi Lemmons and features a star-studded cast. While it deals with overtly adult themes, the story centers on a young protagonist.

The story is set in 1962 Louisiana. The Batiste family is headed by charming doctor Louis. Though he is married to beautiful Roz, he has a weakness for attractive female patients. One night Louis trysts with married and sexy Metty Mereaux, not knowing that he is observed by his youngest daughter Eve, who is there by accident. Eve can not forget the traumatic incident and shares a secret with older sister Cisely.

Watch it on AmazoniTunes, and Netflix DVD.





OCTOBER 7, 2015

OCTOBER 7, 2015



32 views on






Segun Aiyesan, “We” – Inspired by Gra Gra [5x6ft – Mixed Media on Canvas]

Segun Aiyesan, “We” – Inspired by Gra Gra [5x6ft – Mixed Media on Canvas]

Last month, I took part in a panel discussion about Afroisms at Busseywood film festival. The panel, moderated by Tega Okiti, consisted of Emma Dabiri and Chardine Taylor-Smith, both opponents of Afropolitanism, and myself – a proponent of it.

When I chose the name for my blog, I didn’t intuit becoming a proponent of Afropolitanism. The term simply appealed to me. However, names are prognosticative, and over the years the concept has indeed shaped the direction of this blog in ways that I can only describe as ‘destiny’. 

As a shaper of the concept, I’m frequently asked to share my views about it, especially by students and academics who are exploring its sphere. So I thought I’d share and build on the arguments that I made during the panel, so that I can easily refer to them when necessary.

It’s not, by the way, that I am unwilling to answer questions, but I think that this inconclusive list might nevertheless be useful as a starting point. Also, while the blogpost will remain as it is now, I am also posting it as a page (in the upper right corner of my home page) which may get updated from time to time. 

Here goes.


Afropolitanism describes a part of my identity but also, and especially, it describes my philosophical position about the world.


Afropolitanism is a conceptual space in which African heritage realities are both interrogated and understood with the tools and nuances of modern-day globalisation.


Afropolitanism is a ‘glocal’ – global and local – space.


Afropolitanism is not a geographical space but rather a social, cultural, political, philosophical, psychological, spiritual one.


Furthermore, Afropolitanism is anachronistic. It encompasses existences, experiences and expressions which are simultaneously historic, present and futuristic.


To summarise so far, then: Afropolitanism is a glocal, analytical interaction of cross-cultural, philosophical, psycho-social and spiritual textures informed by past, present and future Africa.


Afropolitanism is similar to diaspora in so far that it denotes a philosophical space rather than a physical one.


Unlike the term ‘diaspora’, however, which largely connotes the African experience outside of the African continent, Afropolitanism exists as much within the continent as outside it.


Also unlike diaspora, but like pan-Africanism, Afropolitanism is concerned with social, political and cultural change.


Afropolitanism, pan-Africanism and diaspora are therefore synergetic.


Afropolitanism is not colour-blind but it is aracial (if I may). It is (a)racial in the sense that it is a discombobulation of the race gaff created by European ancestors.


Afropolitanism is a feminist space.


Afropolitanism is a feminist space not only because many of its theorists are feminist but also because it is a twenty-first century idea, and no serious theoretical spaces today can ignore the contributions of feminism (in the way that, say, pan-Africanism did in its heyday).


For the same reasons, Afropolitanism is also a queer space.


The Internet is Afropolitan.


Afropolitanism is a language and a vocabulary aimed at encouraging conversations of African journeys and imaginations.


Afropolitanism is largely shaped by people who have time for ideological ruminations and cultural expression. People who are struggling for food, or fleeing wars, or struggling with other disabling structures, sadly rarely have the luxury to debate ideology, be it feminism, marxism, socialism etc.


That said, in its unity with African cosmologies, Afropolitanism can unfurl a vital and lacking conscience about poverty – the most pressing issue facing the African continent. (And the entire world.)


Afropolitanism enables discussion and potential solutions toward eradicating poverty through interrogations of glocal structures and systems. It does so in three-fold fashion; through the rational mind (dissemination, discussion, interpretation); the subconscious spirit (art, culture, mythology, fashion, poetry, aesthetics); and the animus – motivation to action.


Art is a way to understand and change ourselves just as much as science or theory is. (If not more.)


Afropolitans, that is, those to whom Afropolitanism presents a space of interrogation and exploration for the African heritage experience in the contemporary age of globalisation, are responsible for the discussions which take place within the space.


It is not possible to predict what this group of people might include in their discussion.


In hip hop culture, emcees come together in a circle known as a cipher, each freestyling in turns in order to non-violently and harmoniously exchange energy even when the energies are in friction. The cipher is of African origin and has traveled from various locations in the continent to, for example, the roda de samba dance circles in Brazil. The Afropolitan space is metaphorically similar, a circular motion where intersecting  topics such as decolonisation, culture, poetry, politics, capitalism, cosmopolitanism, sexuality, mythology, technology, mysticism, psychology and spirituality are invoked and expressed.


In the cipher, no one needs to pass the African Authenticy Standards Test (AAST) in outlining Afropolitanism. The Afropolitan expression of, say, Achille Mbembe is not more authentic to that of, say, The Afropolitan Shop or vice versa. Either can, and should be, open to interpretation, criticism and relatability but each co-exists in the metaphoric circle like a spiral of DNA.


Nor is there an Afropolitan ‘cultural property test’. Afropolitanism asphyxiates essentialist discourses about cultural appropriation and identity politics. The African cultural heritage is human cultural heritage because the origin of humanity is African and the first human civilisation was black.


Yet Afropolitanism intervenes in the perpetuation of cultural fabrications (such as the whitewashing of Kemet) and other attempts to misappropriate the origins of human art, science and philosophy. It does so by clearheadedly exposing the decoy.


Taiye Selasi’s article “Bye, Bye Babar” is a key Afropolitan text, naturally. As is, in my view, Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “Cosmopolitanism”, which elucidates the ethical argument of cosmopolitanism and, in an Africa-centric view, Afropolitanism. I’d add the Souls of Black Folk, Black Atlantic and Africa Must Be Modern by W E B DuBois, Paul Gilroy and Olufemi Taiwo respectively. Additionally, Elif Shafak’s discussions on cosmopolitanism also inform my vision on Afropolitanism. There are many more texts I’d include but these are a start.


Afropolitanism is a branch of cosmopolitanism like a leg is a part of a body.


If cosmopolitanism is, simply put, “the recognition that human beings are different and that we can learn from each other’s differences”, as Kwame Anthony Appiah writes, then Afropolitanism insists on the recognition of the contributions of Africans to humanity within cosmopolitanism. It makes this insistence because it grapples with a corrupt system contrived to rank Africa’s epyrean contributions to humanity as sub par.


Since Afropolitanism is in constant flux, the conversations, the issues and the aesthetics it grapples with are also in constant flux.


Speaking of Afropolitan aesthetics, which I believe exist and would describe along the lines of: explorative, symbolic and mythopoetic visuals picking and choosing from the architecture of Afrocentric cosmologies in glocal contexts. Art whose vibrations affect the mind, body and soul in both enticing and politicising ways.


On these accounts, Afropolitanism is a revolutionary and spiritual space of sense and sensibility; of reconfiguration through revelation; of deconstructing to reconstruct; of trying and erring. It is a modern-day oracle whose algorithmic mediums (literature, theory, folktales, art, myth, fashion etc.) serve to reduce the discord and asymmetry of separation between Africans themselves as well as between Africans and the rest of the world. It is a philosophical paradigm where important, if imperfect, conversations are held. Afropolitanism offers metaphoric libations to ancient, spiritual knowledge systems such as ancestral communism. Ancestral communism, let’s say, is a kind of theory like ubuntu. Thus, Afropolitanism is a balancing ideology where the traumas of the African experience – slavery, colonialism, racism, sexism, religious crusades, pogroms – are restored with the marriage of symbolic, inquisitive, humanist ancestral knowledge systems with contemporary technological processes, art and science.

The image is “We – Inspired by Gra Gra” by Segun Aiyesan [5x6ft – Mixed Media on Canvas] used with permission. I’d like to share some of the story behind the image and why I found it fitting in this context. Aiyesan describes “We” as an organism whose “existential success depends on every integral unit comprising the system…performing specific tasks.” He also says that the image represents a force “that cannot be denied, nor ignored, nor contained, nor limited, nor destroyed, for its essence is the survival of humanity itself. “We” are one.”

Minna Salami is an award-winning Nigerian-Finnish writer, speaker and commentator on African feminism, society and culture. She considers London and Lagos home.




October 25, 2015

October 25, 2015






Image Credit: Nicholas Rawhani

Image Credit: Nicholas Rawhani


You could hardly catch your breath last week with the #FeesMustFall protests in South Africa. For a while, after #RhodesFell, we feared that identity politics would swallow and spit out the loose agglomeration that was that movement (there is no national coordinating body; instead it has been led by a mix of campus organizations and the local or youth affiliations of nationalist or leftist parties). But the ability of students to find and develop “a theory to suit their times, capable of holding the contradictions of ‘born-free’ life, just as their parents practiced their theory of opposition to the realities of their lives” astonishes every day. Last Friday, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma announced that there will be no fee increases for the next academic year, starting in January 2016. This was of course some kind of victory, but not all that students are asking. President Zuma’s announcement was silent about free education or the problem of outsourcing at universities. Neither did he address police brutality or the charges against students who were arrested. The students were not appeased.

Just read, for example, the Facebook post by Wits University SRC President Shaeera Kalla. She was quick to reassert the demand for free education and to link the struggles over fees to larger struggles over university governance and outsourcing:  “Comrades we have neglected our mothers and fathers being abused at the hands of outsourced companies on our watch on our campus under our gaze. Every single day Mam Deliwe, Mam Zodwa, and Comrade Matthews and many others stood firmly with us against fee increases, what do we do for them?” We don’t know where these protests are going or whether #FeesMustFall has the potential to grow into a national movement beyond university campuses, That all depends on whether #FeesMustFall manages ideological and identarian politics, and, more importantly draws in other energies, organizations or groups outside universities into the struggle. What is clear, though, is that every time the government responds, the protesters up the ante. The young ones have been born.

In this eleven minute film, edited by Leila Dougan of our film unit, we’ve culled together images from the last week’s protests (the full list of credits come at the end of the film). Much of the coverage has focused on Johannesburg and Cape Town at the expense of provincial and “historical black universities.” This film lets students from Rhodes University, mostly women,  articulate for themselves what is going on in this moment. Watch:


We Are Called Those Who Have Come*


By Thuto Thipe and Dan Magaziner 


All Images Credit: Nicholas Rawhani

All Images Credit: Nicholas Rawhani

It was never just about Afrikaans.

They wore school uniforms in Soweto in June 1976, and they held signs. Many declaimed against the state’s mandate that classes previously taught in English be taught in Afrikaans. Thus did the popular mythology coalesce around the story that the Soweto Uprisings were only about Afrikaans. They never were. Soweto was about a changeover – the announcement of a generational shift in political practice. It was about a generation of students who, as another sign put it, were fed up with being beaten, fed up with be denied their dignity, fed up with being slaves to Bantu Education, the South African political economy and the apartheid state. It was never just about Afrikaans. It was about the future.


It was never just about a statue.

#RhodesMustFall was never just about a statue. At UCT earlier this year students tore through an earlier generation’s boundaries of the possible, to articulate a political vision situated in, and responsive to, the specific dynamics and needs of their time. The current generation of university students have, for the most part, grown up and been educated under democracy. The realities of continued poverty for most, growing inequality, and the resilience of white supremacy in South Africa have made the politics of liberalism less seductive for this generation. It was never just about a statue. Students have been, and are continuing to, call for the radical restructuring of political, social, financial and knowledge economies to reflect the lives and satisfy the needs of all. The political freedom won by earlier generations has allowed for an intellectual freedom that imagines politics beyond the party and is not afraid to make demands on the government and Constitution that has been so hallowed in our collective public life – just as the Class of ’76 imagined a politics beyond liberation movements and instead positioned themselves only as students, committed to the future, committed to the lives that they hoped to live.

The fact that the university was the birthplace of recent student action is essential to understanding the the character and form of these movements. Before Rhodes fell, students and professors sat and learned together in the Archie Mafeje room – named for a towering African intellectual – until the early hours of the morning. Professors from disciplines across the campus lectured and taught in the evenings and debate continued for hours. #RMF committees circulated texts by scholars from around the world, helping to frame analysis of past movements’ and regimes’ successes and failures and how best to integrate these lessons in the present. By militantly rejecting the dominant curriculum and teaching models that continue to put Europe and white South Africa at the centre of UCT’s academic life, students created the space in which they wanted to learn and explored a wealth of academic material that spoke to their realities and aspirations. The unique beauty of this process was the way that through this resistance and creative engagement they artfully produced new knowledge and fostered a new political consciousness. The statue, like Afrikaans, was a symbol. It was never just about the statue.

Image Credit: Nicholas Rawhani

Now, students hold signs again. One, questioning, reads “1976?” Another, troubling, asks “Is my future my mother’s past?” Another, optimistically, promises, “my grandfather was a garden boy, my father is a garden boy (won’t happen to me) I wanna be a vet.” Most read simply #feesmustfall. It’s not just about fees; it’s not just about a hashtag.

Recent student action has captured public attention and the popular imagination because of how it has demonstrated the materiality of its theory. In public statements, student have shown how their experiences of financial exclusion, debilitating university debt and responsibility for extended families link to broader issues of political leadership, the organisation of the economy and the economic legacies of apartheid that haunt students trying to use education to escape poverty. By seamlessly moving between individual and structural analysis, and locating specific voices and narratives in the broader landscape, these movements have been able to animate the statistics to which the public has until recently seems desensitised. Through such analysis students in these movements, and their allies, have demonstrated the relationships between the financial exclusion of university students, universities’ outsourcing of ‘non-core’ workers, the gross under-representation of black academics in senior positions, and the massacre of mineworkers at Marikana.

Image Credit: Nicholas Rawhani

In this political moment students are finding and developing a theory to suit their times, capable of holding the contradictions of ‘born-free’ life, just as their parents practiced their theory of opposition to the realities of their lives. The fearlessness with which the world has watched them confront these contradictions, facing head-on violence reminiscent of a bygone era, is sparking the idea that much more than fees may fall. So even as we salute Friday, 23 October 2015, when the fees fell, just as we cheered when Rhodes fell, just as we jeered when the National Party fell, we need to be with the students, reading, learning, thinking, practicing, planning for the struggles yet to come. It was never just about apartheid. It was about the future. Stay tuned.

*The title of this piece comes from the South African Student Movement newsletter, 1975.


Originally from Joburg, Thuto Thipe was recently at the University of Cape Town as a student and a researcher. She studies history at Yale University. Dan Magaziner is an editor of Africa Is A Country. 








Call for Papers:

“Caribbean Writers,

Performance Artists,

and Visual Artists

working from Canada”


The Caribbean Vistas Journal: Critiques of Caribbean Arts and Cultures calls for papers for a special issue, Volume 2.2 (Summer 2016), on “Caribbean Writers, Performance Artists, and Visual Artists working from Canada.” The deadline for abstracts is December 1, 2015. [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for providing this post.]

Welcomed are:

  • Critical essays on all aspects of Caribbean writers [working from Canada].
  • Previously unpublished poetry and literary nonfiction from Caribbean artists [working from Canada].
  • Visual art images and video links to performances by Caribbean artists [working from Canada] accompanied by artistic statements.
  • Interviews with Caribbean artists [working from Canada].

Abstracts of 100-200 words may be sent to the editor, Dr. Emily Williams, at The deadline for abstracts is December 1, 2015.

For further information on publication specifications, visit the online journal at

Sources: and








river styx

River Styx 2016

Schlafly Beer Micro-Brew

Micro-Fiction Contest

$1500 First Prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer
Judged by the editors of River Styx

  • 500 words maximum per story, up to three stories per entry.
  • Entry fee: $10 or $20. $20 entry fee includes a one-year subscription (3 issues). $10 entry fee includes a copy of the issue in which the winning stories will appear.
  • Include name and address on the cover letter only.
  • All stories will be considered for publication.
  • Previously published stories, including those that have appeared on websites, blogs, and personal home pages, are not eligible.
  • Though submissions are anonymous, judges will remove from consideration any entries they recognize as having been written by writers with whom they have worked or studied.
  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners and honorable mentions will be published in the spring issue.
  • Contest results will be announced in April 2016.

Enter by mail or online via Submittable. To enter by mail, include an S.A.S.E. for notification of contest results and a check payable to River Styx Magazine. Entries must be received by December 31st. Mail entries to:

River Styx Micro-Fiction Contest
3139A South Grand Boulevard, Suite 203
St. Louis, MO 63118










ISSN: 2056-9211 (Online)
Cover image: James Baldwin photographed by Sedat Pakay

The James Baldwin Review (JBR) is an annual journal that brings together a wide array of peer‐reviewed critical and creative work on the life, writings, and legacy of James Baldwin. In addition to these cutting-edge contributions, each issue contains a review of recent Baldwin scholarship and an award-winning graduate student essay. The James Baldwin Review publishes essays that invigorate scholarship on James Baldwin; catalyze explorations of the literary, political, and cultural influence of Baldwin’s writing and political activism; and deepen our understanding and appreciation of this complex and luminary figure.

It is the aim of the James Baldwin Review to provide a vibrant and multidisciplinary forum for the international community of Baldwin scholars, students, and enthusiasts.

The editors encourage the submission of cross disciplinary articles on the life, writings, and legacy of James Baldwin. Possible contributors are welcome to discuss an article proposal or outline with the Managing Editor before committing to a full submission.

Cover Photograph: Sedat Pakay













Jammin’ the Blues

count 01

Classic shorts with various jam sessions featuring 
Lester Young, Harry Edison, Illinois Jacquet, 
Barney Kessel, Jo Jones, Buck Clayton, Buddy Tate 
Don Byas, Clarke Terry, Buddy De Franco,Marie Bryant, Helen Humes and others.

01. The Midnight Symphony (ad lib) 
02. On the Sunny Side of the Street 
03. Jammin’ the Blues (ad lib) 
04. Take Me Back Baby 
05. Airmail Special 
06. Basie Boogie 
07. If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight 
08. Basie’s Conversation 
09. I Cried for You 
10. One O’Clock Jump







September 13, 2015

September 13, 2015



José James celebrates

Billie Holiday &

John Coltrane

– Sept 4, 2015

at Chicago Jazz Fest

Jose James & Leo Genovese at Chicago Jazz Festival

José James 9/4/15 Chicago Jazz Festival
Equinox [John Coltrane cover]:

José James 9/4/15 Chicago Jazz Festival
Tenderly [Billie Holiday cover]:

José James 9/4/15 Chicago Jazz Festival
God Bless The Child [Billie Holiday cover]:

Jose James, Solomon Dorsey & Nate Smith at Chicago Jazz Festival

José James: The Music of Billie Holiday
September 4, 2015
Chicago, IL @ Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park – Chicago Jazz Festival

Sony ECM-MS908C stereo mic > Canon XA-20 video cam > 16/48 WAV > Vegas Pro 12.0 > 16/44 WAV > CD Wave Editor > FLAC


01. Good Morning Heartache >
02. Body And Soul
03. José speaks / Equinox Intro
04. Equinox [John Coltrane cover]
05. Tenderly
06. José speaks
07. God Bless The Child

José James – vocals
Leo Genovese – piano, Fender Rhodes
Solomon Dorsey – bass
Nate Smith – drums

Set time was 6pm to 6:55pm. José soundchecked with a guitar but never played it. He posted later that evening on Instagram: Thank you Chicago that was dope!!! I wish I could’ve played longer I didn’t even get to play my guitar!! But you showed love. Thank you for helping to honor the great Billie Holiday, a fearless leader who championed for equal rights + change in the face of brutality #blacklivesmatter


















photo by Alex Lear

photo by Alex Lear




French Quarter Intimacies


through weathered wood dark

on shadowed streets ancient voices

whisper history


   * * *


New Orleans Rainbow


from buttered gold to

purpled black, the sundry shades

of my people shine


    * * *


Our Natures Rise


hard core nights are so

erotic, a whiff of the

breeze is narcotic


    * * * 


Sunrise On The River


shy dawn tenderly

gold tongue kisses the rippling

river’s flowing face


   * * * 


Quarter Moon Rise


soft moon shimmers out

of cloudy dress, stirred by night’s

suggestive caress


    * * *


All Nite Long


amid dancing &

drinking til dewed dawn, nights stretch

24 hours long


    * * *


The Spice Of Life


cayenne in our blood

we dance, eat, laugh, cry & love

with peppered passion


    * * * 


St. Louis Cemetery Crypt


bones float in raised stone,

white, altared graves, blood transformed,

become black souled thrones


    * * *


Makes You Go Oohhh!


sing of lusty foods

so savory they buck jump

cross your tongue’s dance floor


—kalamu ya salaam