For a young black man in central Illinois plains to just go missing from his university didn't even make sense and almost didn't make any national noise. His mother changed that.
The Smollett Verdict
#JussieSmollettTrial: Reflections from Chicago. How are we measuring "success"? What's worth it? What's not? For context on hate crimes, I read from #RichardWright's posthumous novel The Man Who Lived Underground. Be grateful for what you have or achieve, people.
Sisters Jennifer and Jordan Turpin Give Testimony to Life
It is my privilege to salute Jennifer and Jordan Turpin, two young women who escaped and started over after a lifetime of the unimaginable. David and Louise Turpin raised their 13 children in secret squalor and tortuous rules, until, to save her siblings, Jordan found the courage at age 17 to leap into the world she'd never known.
“I Came To Chicago To Work”
Dear Readers: Rachel León interviewed me for Chicago Review of Books on my latest novel SPEAKING OF SUMMER, the writing life and working in Chicago. I’d forgotten how much we covered: the novel composition process, support (or the lack thereof) for mental health, inequities in approaches to men and women’s meditative literature, unsafety for women. Share, repost, comment, like and follow. Thank you!
Kalisha Buckhanon doesn’t have a smart phone. Her first advice to new writers is to get rid of it. She writes on an old desktop computer without internet for the same reason she likes being a writer in Chicago — it allows her to get work done.
And that’s lucky for us because her new novel, Speaking of Summer, is a dynamic and important story that will provoke needed conversations about the devastating effects of trauma and mental illness.
In the novel, Summer walks to the roof of the Harlem brownstone she shares with her twin sister and disappears into the cold winter night. The mysterious circumstances of her disappearance set up a compelling tale about safety and violence, mental health and trauma, and victim invisibility.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Kalisha Buckhanon over the phone. An edited transcript of our conversation appears below.
Rachel León: I…
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Happy to share a Woman of Power, Develyn Biagas
Develyn Biagas: a longtime educator and youth advocate now working on her PhD, with a specialty focus area of African-American girls and the school to prison pipeline. She also works in young adult literature and plans to publish her first Young Adult novel soon. I am happy girls she works with now have someone like her to look up to.
“You are not gonna silence me.” -Senator Stephanie Flowers on racist Stand Your Ground “rights”
Emmett, Trayvon, Markeis, Kalief, Oscar, Tamir, Aiyana, Stephon, Botham, Sandra, Amadou, Eleanor, Terence, Philando, Alton, Walter, Sharmel, Miriam, Tony, Jordan, Rumain, Rekia, Laquan, Eric, Michael...
What Toni wrote to Obama…
In honor of her birthday and Black History Month, read a prescient excerpt from Toni Morrison's 2008 letter to Barack Obama.