05 8 / 2014

"And always on Thursdays, there’s a fight. Nine out of ten it’s the usual permutation of one man pecking down another, quiet fighting with lean punches and wrestling that would make Gorgeous George jealous. Then comes that tenth fight, two girls making a firecracker, one lilac blouse closing her eyes before she winds up to slap her boyfriend’s other girlfriend, another Butterick pattern grabbing her classmate’s hair and winding it meter by meter around her hand. The girls scream. They spit. They scratch. They shout bitch slut whore. They pretend to fight over men rather than admit their anger over another girl’s lighter skin, or the store-bought cut of her dress. But even against the ragged dance of violence stands this power: the beauty of those segregated into assembly by the rules of the world’s common ugliness. Sometimes, when I watch the Thursday dancers, I can almost understand whitefolk: these people are so beautiful, it wouldn’t do not to oppress them."

Townsend, Jacinda. Saint Monkey. 2014

pg 305

05 8 / 2014

"Back when Audrey’s daddy passed, she cried like a whitegirl, with that look on her like she’d just left all of us and warn’t coming back. Her mama ain’t cried one drop, and she give Audrey tissue to fresh up her face but Audrey pushed it away — just let them tears roll down her face and then down her chin to salt up the neck of her sweater. What really did it was when she bit her lip, just like a whitegirl, in a way that said This will hurt me forever and I’m just going to let it. Like her mind warn’t ground down by balcony-setting and back-door entering and settlement-cheating and other general whitefolk treatment, like she ain’t got the White kids’ used schoolbooks just like the rest of us, handed down to the Montgomery Colored with Nigger, can you read this? written across all the pages in red ink pen. Like her mind was free enough with time enough that it could skip around in whitegirl spaces and just grieve. Like she ain’t have to have the same stone-cold heart as everybody else out here under God’s gaze trying to scrape up two nickels, and that’s when I first knew Audrey thought she was better’n the rest of us. ‘Cause she couldn’t stay cool at a funeral."

Townsend, Jacinda. Saint Monkey. 2014.

pg. 82

04 8 / 2014

"Drunk on all the possibilities of morning, particularly the possibility of making love to Lucius again and soon, Ada wondered if it was possible that God had invented orgasm not just to encourage us to have babies but because God wanted to teach us to finish what you start - and get well rewarded."

Randall, Alice. Ada’s Rules: A Sexy Skinny Novel. 2012.

pg 315

20 3 / 2014

"Femiphobic diatribes and other bad books have gassed us with this idea that black boys need the presence of black father figures in our lives. I’m sure I’m not the only black boy who realized a long time ago that my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother needed loving, generous partners far more than I needed a present father. Mama disciplined me. She loved me.
Aunt Sue prayed for me. She loved me.
Grandma worked for me. She loved me.
That’s why I made it through the late 80s and 90s. That is why I am alive. Black children need waves of present, multifaceted love, not simply present fathers."

Laymon, Kiese. How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. 2013

pg. 77

20 3 / 2014


….she raised me to never ever forget I was born on parole, which means no black hoodies in wrong neighborhoods, no jogging at night, hands in plain sight at all times in public, no intimate relationships with white women, never driving over the speed limit or doing those rolling stops at stop signs, always speaking the King’s English in the presence of white folks, never being outperformed in school or in public by white students, and, most importantly, always remembering that no matter what, the worst of white folks will do anything to get you.

Mama’s antidote to being born a black boy on parole in Central Mississippi is not for us to seek freedom, but to insist on excellence at all times. Mama takes it personal when she realizes that I realize she is wrong. There ain’t no antidote to life, I tell her. How free can you be if you really accept that white folks are the traffic cops of your life? Mama tells me that she is not talking about freedom. She says that she is talking about survival.


Laymon, Kiese. How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. 2013

pg. 43

19 3 / 2014

"The worst of white folks, I understood, wasn’t some gang of rabid white people in crisp pillowcases and shaved heads. The worst of white folks was a pathetic, powerful ‘it.’ It conveniently forgot that it came to this country on a boat, then reacted violently when anything or anyone suggested it share. The worst of white folks wanted our mamas and grandmas to work themselves sick for a tiny sliver of an American pie it needed to believe it had made from scratch. It was all at once crazy-making and quick to discipline us for acting crazy. It had an insatiable appetite for virtuoso black performance and routine black suffering. The worst of white folks really believed that the height of black and brown aspiration should be emulation of itself. White Americans were wholly responsible for the worst of white folks, though they would make sure it never wholly defined them."

Laymon, Kiese. How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. 2013

pg. 28

19 3 / 2014

"But when I did find brilliant soulful courageous black American literature, it imagined us as readers, and those literary echoes saved my life. As much as hip-hop and the blues inspired me, my most meaningful discoveries about the act of being human have come through the solitary act of listening to turning pages, rereading clumsy passages, and marking up sides of shifty texts. It wasn’t the text alone that did the work; it was the reading, and rereading, of the text that necessitated the work. Rereading The Bluest Eye taught me how to see. Rereading The Fire Next Time taught me how to love. Rereading Going to the Territory taught me that ‘human being’ was a verb. Rereading Kindred taught me to will myself beyond spectacle and into generative imagination that needed to look forward and back."

Laymon, Kiese. How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. 2013

pg. 12

08 3 / 2014

"And again I thought of home. I realized just how similar were the challenges the young boys here [in South Africa] and kids like the ones I grew up with [in America] faced. In both places, young men go through a daily struggle trying to navigate their way through deadly streets, poverty, and the twin legacies of exclusion and low expectations. But they are not completely unequipped-they also have the history of determined, improvisational survival, a legacy of generations who fought through even more oppressive circumstances. One of the key differences between the two was in the way their communities saw them. [In South Africa], burgeoning manhood was guided and celebrated through a rite of passage. [In America], burgeoning manhood was a trigger for apprehension. In the United States, we see these same faces, and our reflex is to pick up our pace and cross the street. And in this reflexive gesture, the dimension of our tragedy are laid bare. Our young men-along with our young women-are our strength and our future. Yet we fear them. This tall South African who now captured my attention wore his manhood as a sign of accomplishment, a badge of honor. His process was a journey taken with his peers, guided with his elders, and completed in a celebration. He was now a man. His community welcomed him."

Moore, Wes. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. 2010.

pg. 170-1

23 1 / 2014

"A colored man floats down out of the sky blowing a saxophone, and below him, in the space between two buildings, a girl talks earnestly to a man in a straw hat. He touches her lip to remove a bit of something there. Suddenly she is quiet. He tilts her chin up. They stand there. Her grip on her purse slackens and her neck makes a nice curve. The man puts his hand on the stone wall above her head. By the way his jaw moves and the turn of his head I know he has a golden tongue. The sun sneaks in the alley behind them. It makes a pretty picture on its way down."

Morrison, Toni. Jazz. 1993.

pg. 8

09 1 / 2014

"He smiled and hug me to him. [He] asked me if I wanted to go back to his apartment. I whispered yes and kissed him softly on the ear. I wanted him to fuck me. This thought surprised me, then made itself at home. I wanted him to bury himself inside me and rock-and-roll me and jazz me and moan and turn me blue and aquamarine and sink and sink and light me up from the inside. I wanted to turn him out, ruin him, make him forget all the women he ever knew before me."

Youngblood, Shay. Black Girl in Paris. 2000.