blackness

Cafecito

by | May 24, 2022

I think of my abuelita's stories. These tales often began with a declaration that she’d been born four months after the Titanic set sail. With a laugh, she’d swirl her ever present cup of coffee and add that the ship sank five days later. Meanwhile, she persevered. She said that it was coffee that kept her going.

Black woman drinking coffee

Pie Person

by | May 3, 2022

To our delight, Grandma Clara's pie blended fresh eggs, fresh lemons from her tree, C&H sugar, real butter, and a lard crust. Endowed with otherworldly powers, she whipped up fluffy meringue with mere egg beaters. The toasted meringue resembled the melting snowpack of the Sierra Nevadas, defiant seams of brown in foamy white.

apple pie

A Suburban Caretaker’s Diary Entry

by | January 13, 2022

With wit, and a dash of horror, a Black caregiver in the Bay Area suburbs reflects on the surreality of elder care during a pandemic.

suburban tract home in Palo Alto

Honoring Our Literary Ancestors: On Arcelia and Giovanni’s Room

by | November 11, 2021

Organizers of Giovanni's Room unite to honor literary ancestors

acelia portrait

On Toni Morrison’s Spiritual Vision: a Conversation with Nadra Nittle

by | October 26, 2021

Nadra Nittle takes meticulous inventory of the ingredients that enliven Toni Morrison’s spiritual vision.

Toni Morrison Book Cover

Function at the Junction: Notes on Summer of Soul

by | August 19, 2021

I’m getting ready for the function at the junction And baby you’d better come on right now Because everybody’s gonna be there We got people comin’ from everywhere – “Function At The Junction,” Shorty Long, 1966 There’s a long, long legacy of Black folks gathering around food and funk, bbq sauce and song. Before we […]

Summer of Soul

Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Hurts

by | July 6, 2021

Nigerian President Buhari's banning of Twitter terrifies populace, disrupts activism, impacts the economy, and indicates a dangerous future. Disregard for such consequences is characteristic of Buhari's administration.

Sunday Oladokun / Shutterstock.com

‘Executive Order’ Re-Writes the Post-Apocalyptic Genre

by | June 17, 2021

Executive Order challenges viewers to re-think the post-apocalyptic format and hero-making narratives, flipping the script on a genre that has long reinforced racism, centering Black humanity as a racist government lead by an evil Karen tries to force all Black people to repatriate to Africa as a form of reparations.

Executive Order Film Still

The Girl and the Nappy Halo

by | May 21, 2021

As I settle into my pregnancy, I fantasize about the human I’m going to bring into the world. I picture a girl. Beautiful. Black. Freckled like her father. Myopic like me. When she is thirteen we will sit down and have the talk. Not about periods. Or boys. Or girls. Or bodies. Or pets. Or HBCUs. Or sex. But about getting a perm.

Little girl with nappy hair

For Better or Worse

by | May 13, 2021

When my uncle Claude eventually passes away, he'll leave behind an estate of remarkable wealth. He's the only one of my father's siblings that was able to retire before becoming eligible for AARP citizenship. It's remarkable for me to think that for most of my life I've known my uncle as a shady real estate investor rather than the cheerful supervisor at the Palo Alto Main Post Office.

wedding in oakland

Is Lil Nas X The Spiritual Heir of Little Richard?

by | April 13, 2021

If we stop to examine our family tree, it becomes obvious that Lil Nas X is the fulfillment of Little Richard’s dreams. In a world where neoliberal gayness has taught us that the best we can hope for is Lady Gaga belting out the national anthem while deportations mount, Lil Nas X charitably tossed us a Zyrtec.

Lil Nas X

The Crass Commodification of Black Pain

by | March 30, 2021

When Black Lives Matter was formed I imagine they weren't thinking about their hashtag becoming a marketing ploy, Unfortunately the hashtag has become synonymous with feel-good #woke consumerism and brand building on the backs of public lynchings of Black people by our police state. It has launched the sales of enamel pins, baseball hats, (unironically) hoodies, and now, food. Their tenacious appeal to celebrity-driven U.S. capitalism is truly impressive. As long as our grief is a product to sell to the bourgeois, who are we to disagree?

Of Women and Salt: A Beautiful Novel from Flatiron Books Rubs Salt in the Wounds of the Black Caribbean

by | February 16, 2021

A complex and nuanced story of mother-daughter relationships developed across five generations. But while Garcia attempts to contribute to the larger conversation of race and ethnicity in Cuba, but the depictions of Black Cuban characters lean heavily on age-old stereotypes defined by theft and criminality.

of women and salt cover

Africa is a Continent, the United States of America is a Nation, but Blackness is My World

by | February 9, 2021

“African” and “American” do not define me. The words “African” and “American” seemed to be at war with one another. When I became a teenager, I started referring to myself as Black. Not African American, not Black American, just Black. To be Black is to be my own creation.

Black woman with sunglasses

When You Can’t Claim It, But You Can’t Escape It

by | December 15, 2020

Revisiting one of our favorite pieces from Tasteful Rude: “Are you Black?” my first crush, a white boy, asked me as we played together in the sandbox at school. I wasn’t sure. I thought of my nickname “negrita” but I didn’t know how to explain that I’m the darkest in my family or why it seemed perfectly natural to be identified by my pigmentation. When I couldn’t answer, he ran away from me.

Jessica Hoppe