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Jeff Chang: The ‘Who We Be’ Interview with Kam Williams

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Jeff Chang, author of “Who We Be: The Colorization of America,” was  nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction category.

*Jeff Chang is a new sage thinker with his finger on the pulse. His first book, the critically-acclaimed “Can’t Stop Wont Stop: A history of the Hip-Hop Generation,” collected a cornucopia of honors, including the American Book Award and the Asian-American Literary Award.

Next, he edited “Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop,” an anthology of essays and interviews. Here, he talks about his latest opus, “Who We Be: The Colorization of America,” which has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction category.

Don’t let yourself be dissuaded by the grammatically-incorrect title, or it’s Ebonics chapter headings like “I Am I Be” and “What You Got to Say?” for the actual text isn’t written in inscrutable slang as implied, but rather makes a most articulate analysis of the evolution of American culture from the March on Washington to the present.

Kam Williams: Hi Jeff. Thanks for the time and congratulations on the NAACP Image Award nomination for “Who We Be.” You used to just write about hip-hop. What inspired you to expand your focus for this book?

Jeff Chang: When I finished “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” I realized that the big hole was in talking about all those who had influenced me during my intellectual awakening during the mid-1980s and into 1990s. These were people from the generation that fell between the gap of the Civil Rights Generation and the Hip-Hop Generation–teachers and thinkers like Gary Delgado and Ron Takaki and Gloria Anzaldua, writers like Ishmael Reed, Ntozake Shange, and Jessica Hagedorn. They helped to theorize multiculturalism and their ideas carried us through the culture wars.

 KW: Why did you decide to examine the evolution of American culture over the last half-century?

JC: I guess every project has been a little autobiographical–this is the era that I have lived through. And now that I teach and mentor, I am always surprised and a little sad at how little my students know about what people their age did during the 1980s and 1990s. We weren’t silent. They hear endlessly about the proud brave youth of the 1960s and even the 1970s, but not much history has been done on those who came afterward. In part, this is a function of demographics–we are the shadow generation between the so-called Boomers and Millennials. In part, ours is not a history of glory and victory. When it comes to racial justice, it’s been quite the opposite. It’s not a story with a happy ending.

 KW: Where do you envision America to be a half-century from now?

JC: I’m less successful at predicting than I am at reading history. I do write from a sense of urgency, though. I worry that if we don’t move toward a consensus for racial justice, that we’ll instead continue the current trends of re-segregation and end up with a more rigid, insurmountable racial caste system in 2042. That would be a horrible outcome for everyone, including whites.

KW: Do you think you have a unique perspective as a Chinese/Hawaiian- American?

JC: I’ve been blessed to come from a background in which my family has intermarried with every race and culture imaginable. My family looks a lot like President Obama’s, but much bigger. I suppose I look at the society I’m living in the way I look at my family. Because we are family does not mean there aren’t problems, but we owe it to each other to keep on talking, to try to work them out. This may make me a bit Pollyanna-ish, but you gotta believe in something, and every belief comes from somewhere, and that’s mine.

jeff chang

Jeff Chang
author of “Who We Be: The Colorization of America,” which has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction category.

KW: “Who We Be” reminds me of Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is the Massage” [not his famous essay “The Medium Is the Message”] which was a dizzying mix of essays, asides, aphorisms, photos and drawings. Are you familiar with that book?

JC: I am! Dizzying was exactly the right word. From the beginning I wanted the book to be visual–in the writing and in its content and presentation. McLuhan pointed out in the mid-60s, that we were now living in a mixed up culture where visuality was much more important. The word “colorization” comes from TV, and this is also happening right at the time McLuhan and Fiore are making their book. So, in a lot of ways, I was trying to recognize that history, while merging that with the history of the representation of people of color in the post-civil rights era. Such a great question! Thank you.

 KW: You’re welcome, Jeff. How would you describe your approach to cobbling together the content you included in your book?

JC: The organizing metaphor was seeing–how we see race. I knew I had to move in this direction after “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” and I had some elements–Morrie Turner’s cartoons and his amazing life story, on the one hand, and the street art of the Obama presidential campaign, on the other. Greg Tate, Lydia Yee, Roberta Uno, Vijay Prashad and others hit me with other key pieces that helped to shape the narrative. And as I was finishing the book, Vijay Iyer hit me sideways with his insight about listening versus seeing race. He made me understand that jazz and soul and blues are of an earlier period in which listening was central. Hip-hop comes up in an era of seeing–and so it gets complicated.

KW: What message do you hope people will take away from the book?

JC: That we need to have a real conversation about race that does not try to ignore the legacies of discrimination, debasement and inequity. And we need to transform the culture of violence that continues to lead us in each generation to have to explosively protest the way that bodies of color, often specifically black bodies, are targeted and contained. I think the best way for us to approach this is to recognize and name re-segregation as we see it, and, through cultural interventions, push toward a new consensus for racial justice.

KW: What do you make of the nationwide demonstrations in response to the failure of the grand juries to indict the police officers in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases?

JC: They are among the most sustained and widespread protests against state violence against African-Americans in history. And they are being organized and moved in a decentralized way by thousands of ordinary Americans–mostly youths, mostly women. There are no central leaders, despite the media’s focus on some older charismatic men, and that makes them impossible to stop. They give me clarity about my work and they give me hope that we might be in a transformative moment.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

JC: Not really. Every question is a blessing.

KW: What was your first job?

JC: I went to a private school on “scholarship” which meant that, at age 10, I was serving lunch to my peers and wiping up the tables after them.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

JC: If it’s pleasurable, I ain’t guilty! [LOL]

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

JC: So many! Two of the most recent have been especially amazing: Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen,”and my man Marlon James’s “A Brief History of Seven Killings.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?

JC: Again, so many. This is what’s on right now: Sade’s “Love You More” [JRocc Mix]

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

JC: Hawaiian-style Pipi, beef stew.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?

JC: Art: music, visual art, literature, etcetera that connects big ideas and calls us to do something.

 KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

JC: Yes. My grandparents were Buddhist and my parents converted to Catholicism. I’d say my spiritual beliefs are some odd, contradictory hybrid of both.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

JC: Someone who is trying.  

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

JC: Right now it would be for my brother-in-law Arnel to be alive again. He passed away suddenly in July.

KW: My condolences. The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

JC: Oh, man, I can’t remember!

KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?

JC: It made me understand how important recognizing your transgressions is toward reaching reconciliation.

KW: Can you give me a generic Jeff Chang question I can ask other people I interview?

JC: What are the three values that guide everything you do?

KW: Thanks! What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JC: Don’t follow me, follow your own trail, and if it crosses mine for a while, welcome.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

JC: By my actions and my children.

KW: And lastly, what’s in your wallet?

JC: The bare minimum I need!

KW: Thanks again for the time, Jeff, and good luck with the book.

JC: Kam,  thanks for this amazing interview and for all your generosity. With lots of respect and gratitude.

To order a copy of “Who We Be,” visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312571291/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

To become a member of the NAACP and to vote for the Image Awards, visit: http://www.naacpimageawards.net/become-a-member-to-vote/

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Books

With DNA Evidence, Patricia A. Thomas’ Prophetic Book Reveals What God Did to Dinosaurs

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Patricia Thomas - 20201114_115236

Patricia Thomas

*Author Patricia A. Thomas’s one-of-a-kind book, “God Reveals a Mystery!,” is receiving great acclaim in the Christian community as she answers the puzzling question about what happened to the dinosaurs, by using The Holy Bible’s scriptures and these animals’ correct name.

With a world-wide fascination of the dinosaurs, a cloud of mystery surrounds these intimidating creatures’ demise, because their true name has been obscured over time.

However, Thomas simply explains in her book that if we use these animals’ correct name, which is in The Holy Bible, the answer to what happened to them will become eye-opening. Many know that the name dinosaur (dinosauria) was coined in 1842.

The made-up name dinosaur means “terrible lizard” in Greek, but the Adam-given name, according to Genesis 2:20, that was given to them thousands of years ago, is serpents or dragons and many know them also as snakes.

Therefore, dragons are not mythical, but were instead cursed by God during the time of the Garden of Eden, according to Genesis 3:14 (NIV):  So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.”  In other words, God’s dragons now drag on the ground.

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Patricia Thomas - God Reveals A Mystery - 20180217_171353

With unproven scientific theories such as asteroids, meteorites, and volcano eruptions explaining these animals’ demise, the truth in her book will bring all of the lies to an end.

With biblical truths that have never been written about and Dinosaur or Dragon DNA that is now available to be tested that will shatter these theories, God Reveals a Mystery! is long overdue.

The world will come to know that dragons or serpents are not extinct, but instead live among us today, in their cursed forms, and it can be scientifically proven because of God’s miraculous DNA, that He has manifested multiple times, that many said would never happen!

GOD REVEALS A MYSTERY! is available on Amazon.com.

Connect with Patricia A.Thomas on Social Media:
www.Facebook.com/GodRevealsAMystery
www.Facebook.com/WordsOfVision
www.Instagram.com/TheVisionaryOne

source: [email protected]

 

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** FEATURED STORY **

Pastors of Different Races Merge Churches and Release New Book to Help Heal Racial Divides (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)

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Pastor Derrick Hawkins and Pastor Jay Stewart

welded

*In 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “11 ‘o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours, if not the most segregated hour, in Christian America.”

The civil rights leader’s famed quote was in reference to of course just how segregated church services were, and in many cases still are, across the United States.

Hoping to bridge this wide gap, in 2016, Pastors Derrick Hawkins (African American) and Jay Stewart (Caucasian American) decided to merge their racially separate congregations into The Refuge Church in North Carolina.

The recently released book, “Welded: Forming Racial Bonds That Last,” co-authored by the pastors, chronicles their relationship and what led to this racial reckoning. (Buy book now).

“We are living in a time where there still is much division, anger, and confusion in our nation especially as it relates to racial unity,” Pastor Stewart said in an EUR phone interview. “The bottom line is that we have a very unique story and God has chosen to write a better narrative in the midst of all the confusion and anger.”

Pastor Stewart continued, “So, we have an opportunity to share our story but to also give practical guidelines for how people can build relationships with people who look different than they do. The subtitle of the book is ‘forming racial bonds that last’ and that’s really the reason we’ve written this book.”

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Pastor Jay Stewart (Photo Credit: iDisciple Publishing)

Pastor Hawkins blames the media partly for the racial strife and sees their story as a positive alternative.

“I think there are so many different narratives going on across the media,” Pastor Hawkins told the EUR. “There are so many things that the enemy is trying to spread. We wanted a better narrative and not just a better story and to let people know that there are amazing things happening with the body of Christ that are positive.”

Guidelines in the book to start racial healing include practicing understanding others, respecting others’ opinions, getting out of one’s comfort zone, and committing to unity.

“We seek to understand more than we seek to be understood,” said Pastor Stewart. “So, we have to lay down our own agenda and really come to the table with the goal of understanding the other person. Secondly, we value the relationship more than being right. We live in a day where everybody feels that they have a right to their own opinion. One thing we’ve learned is that we lay down our rights because the relationship is more important.”

Pastor Stewart added, “We also have to break out of our comfort zones and be willing to inconvenience ourselves for the sake of others and if we do that we discover the most greatest and thrilling adventures in our relationship with Christ.”

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Pastor Derrick Hawkins (Photo Credit: iDisciple Publishing)

Pastor Hawkins said of people coming together, “I live by the motto in Ephesians 4:3, just making unity a priority. We know that we don’t have the ability to create unity, but it is our job to project unity. Pastor Jay always said we want to take every opportunity to make unity a priority but also preserve it.”

“Unity doesn’t mean there’s an absence of disagreement, but we have the ability to protect unity at all costs,” added Pastor Hawkins. “And there’s a way to look at your own echo chamber to see what you can do to make sure you are building healthy relationships with people who don’t look the same as you.”

The recent presidential election and election in general showed that most white Christians favored Donald Trump and Republicans. This support has led many in the black community to believe that white Christians overwhelmingly support racism and other ideologies that divide the races. The pastors said political views should have no place in the church.

“The kingdom of heaven trumps any political party,” said Pastor Hawkins. “Our job is to always align people to the kingdom and those things that we know are biblical truth. That’s why Ephesians 4:3 is so important.”

“We’ve only chosen to focus on the things that we share in common,” said Pastor Stewart. “And those are the things that unite us in the word of God. Bottomline, our loyalty is to Jesus Christ and our loyalty is not to some political party or to some person and that’s the thing that unites us.”

Pastor Stewart and Pastor Hawkins met in 2014 and two years later the two merged their churches. The Refuge Church has three campuses in North Carolina- Kannapolis, NC (main campus), Salisbury, and Greensboro. Plus, an international location in Brazil.

Pastor Stewart heads the main campus, while Pastor Hawkins leads the Greensboro location. They often lead together in the church as one unit.

Here is a video clip regarding the merging.

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If you have not noticed, the pastors are also of different ages. They maintain a close father-son relationship because, “I’m just incredibly cool,” said Pastor Stewart. “I just have a heart for the kingdom and age doesn’t matter to me. God just knit us together in a really special way. It’s never been an issue for me, and I don’t think it’s been an issue for him.”

“I grew up around my grandmothers and older individuals and I love gleaning from the wisdom from the generations,” Pastor Hawkins said. “There’s no future without the shoulders of the previous generations. Outside of white, black, political differences, chaos, and challenges, this man has poured into me and my life has been better because of his core and his relationship with the Holy Spirit.”

The book “Welded: Forming Racial Bonds That Last” is now out and available to buy here. For more information on the book, go here. For information on The Refuge Church, go here.

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Pastor Derrick Hawkins and Pastor Jay Stewart, authors of newly released book “Welded: Forming Racial Bonds That Last.”

 

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Daphne Maxwell Reid: Traveling Through Time with ‘Grace, Soul and Mother Wit’

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Daphne Maxwell Reid

Daphne Maxwell Reid

*Daphne Maxwell Reid is a television icon. You may know her for her iconic role in the classic TV show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”

Well, the television icon is now expanding her talents in other, incredible creative ventures. She currently has a cookbook out, “Grace, Soul and Mother Wit,” a cookbook meets memoir of sorts. But why a cookbook?

“My mother was a great cook and I learned at her elbow. I’ve been married twice and since I have raised children, one needs to cook,” laughed Daphne Maxwell Reid. It’s a memoir basically. The recipes each have a story of where I got it or what that person meant to me or where we intersected in life. You can gather things, have a chuckle and make a meal.”

The creative icon also has another outlet and business- fashion. She is an accomplished designer and has had several of her fashions featured on runways.

“I’ve been making clothes ever since I was nine years old,” said Daphne. But she found out, as time went on, that making clothes can be lucrative. “About five or six years ago, my husband was having a fundraiser and he decided to do a fashion show/fundraiser with some other partners,” she said. He encouraged her to sell her amazing designs. “So, I did the line, and that’s the first time I decided to sell what I made. One of the first coats to come out sold off the runway.”

MORE NEWS: Paula Jai White on Making History with ‘Family Time’ and Why She’s ‘Proud to be an American’ [EUR Exclusive]

Daphne Maxwell Reid & Fresh Prince cast

Daphne Maxwell Reid & ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ cast

Since 1982, she’s been married to actor Tim Reid, who she first worked with on the show, “WKRP in Cincinnati.” She first worked as a model, being the first Black model to grace the cover of Glamour magazine. The iconic actress has worked on such television series as “Hill Street Blues,” “Simon and Simon,” “Sister, Sister,” “Once Upon A Time…When We Were Colored,” and countless other shows including the series, “Frank’s Place,” in which she starred opposite Tim Reid. But television viewers will remember her role as Vivian Banks in the show “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” with Will Smith as the show that catapulted her into the mainstream.

“I really enjoyed played opposite James Avery,” she said of being on the television show. “He was such a warm and embracing person, a really good man. He, his wife and my husband and I used to travel together. We had a blast.”  But she has enjoyed many of her roles, and one of her roles particularly stands out. “I really enjoyed played the hooker in “Linc’s,” a project we did for Showtime, starring Pam Grier, “she reflected. “It was such a rich character- so wise, educated and purposeful. She had some great things for me. I really enjoyed playing that character.”

Daphne Maxwell Reid - Harriet

Daphne Maxwell Reid in ‘Harriet’

Daphne Maxwell Reid may also be seen in the historical feature “Harriet.”

“It was fabulous,” said Daphne Maxwell Reid of working in the movie. “It was an honor to work with that group of women, who were producing, directing and starring in that movie. I was just thrilled to have any part in it.” Daphne, who played the part of Miz Lucy, is proud of her contribution to an iconic historical movie. “I was proud of the recognition that the movie got- it was well-deserved,” she said. “It was such a wonderful movie. You may not recognize me, but people, watch out! I’m in the basement and there’s a trap door above me and I walk through the water with Harriet.”

Fresh Prince Reunion Special (Photo: Will Smith/Facebook/Instagram)

Fresh Prince Reunion Special (Photo: Will Smith/Facebook/Instagram)

Daphne Maxwell Reid has some fantastic things planned for the remainder of 2020. One of them, a “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” reunion show is currently streaming on HBO Max.

“It will warm your heart and bring you tears like it brought us,” said Daphne, reflecting on the reuniting with the actors and actresses from the show, an iconic show, encapsulated in the annals of television history. “And there’s lot of surprises and special guests. It was a lovely, lovely week of shooting. “

On December 1st, a Christmas movie she starred in, is slated to be aired. “It’s called ‘The Franklin Christmas,’ I believe that’s the title,” said Daphne. “It was a Christmas movie that I really enjoyed doing this year.”

Daphne Maxwell Reid - cookbook cover

Although the title of the book is called “Grace, Soul and Mother Wit,” the title of the book could also be used as a metaphor for her life.

“Travel through time and through the wonderful experiences I’ve had in my life through the pages of a delicious cookbook, that will teach you things, make you laugh and show you how I honor my parents,” said Daphne Maxwell Reid, truly a lady of Grace, Soul and Mother Wit.”

For more information on Daphne Maxwell Reid visit https://www.daphnemaxwellreid.com/, or http://daphnecooks.com/.

 

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