*Oprah Winfrey has announced that her August 2020 book club selection will be Isabel Wilkerson’s exploration of race and hierarchy in the U.S., “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”
The 59-year-old author and journalist won the National Book Critics Circle award in 2011 for her previous book, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” about the Black migration from the South in the early 20th century. In “Caste,” she examines American history and the treatment of Blacks and finds what she calls an enduring, unseen and unmentioned caste system — not unlike those in India or Nazi Germany — that has yet to be fully confronted.
“You cannot solve a problem unless you identify it and define it,” Wilkerson told The Associated Press, adding that Winfrey’s endorsement means “many more people who have not learned about this will have the chance to read about something that deeply affects us all.”
Winfrey’s book club pick on Tuesday continues her commitment to address racial inequality following her work with Lionsgate on a multimedia adaptation of The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” the current issue of O: The Oprah Magazine putting Breonna Taylor on the cover and interviewing Stacey Abrams and Ava DuVernay among others during a two-night special on her OWN network about how to address racism. Winfrey said she would’ve also marched in the streets alongside Black Lives Matter protesters if not for COVID-19.
Watch Oprah’s book club announcement below, or here.
Ross Williams: ‘Made It Out’ Author Recalls Escape from Streets of New Orleans and Corporate America
*Ross Williams made it out, and then he wrote a book about it.
Growing up in New Orleans’ 7th Ward can be rife with challenges. The horror stories far exceed the successful ones. Ross’s journey is an exception, and an exceptional one.
Surrounded by a solid family with community values, Williams attended Tulane University where he studied sociology. He has gone on to become the author of two best-sellers within an eight-month span.
“Made It Out” is testimony not only to his journey, but also to the similarities of surviving the streets and corporate America. His follow-up book, “Crabs In A Barrel: War On Racism,” gives a different perspective on the phrase that focuses more on the barrel than on the crab.
Author is just one of Williams’ many hats. He is also CEO of Williams Commerce Writing Services, which aims to empower job seekers, authors and entrepreneurs.
Zenger News invited Williams for a Q&A session to learn more about his break-out book and journey of discovery.
Percy Crawford interviewed Ross Williams for Zenger News.
Zenger: How did you break the cycle, so to speak, and make it out of the 7th Ward in New Orleans?
Williams: Really learned as much as possible. So, really learning what cursed prior generations and trying to avoid those same things. A lot of that came from learning from my parents who were born in the 1940s, so a lot of my family members are older. So, I have a lot of old-school values. I had the chance to learn about life before my era… I was able to accumulate all of that and just learn from every lesson or loss that I had in life and just never settled.
Zenger: What was it like growing up there and seeing some of the things you experienced?
Williams: I had a sense of pride about my community. My mother’s side of the family has been part of the St. Bernard, 7th Ward community since it was established back in the 1930s and 40s. A lot of people talk about the downfall of the neighborhood. Of course, I discuss that in my first book, “Made It Out,” some of the things I experienced. But one of the big things my neighborhood helped with was just building a confidence about myself and my abilities. At first it was basketball and then it became a swag with everything I do. I believe that I can be the best at whatever I put my mind to.
Zenger: What made you decide to even write a book?
Williams: Really to help other people to make it out of situations that they encountered. At first when I was writing my book, it was kind of like making it out of the inner city. I felt my lessons were applicable to any environment that you can grow up in. Like I said, learning from mistakes, gravitating towards positive energy, and learning from your losses. I really just wanted to give people the blueprint because halfway through the book it became about making it out of corporate America and becoming an entrepreneur. As of right now, even just picking up from there, I’m trying to show the world that I’ve made it out since then. Since the book, I’m still making it out.
Zenger: You actually make parallels in the book about the similarities of making it out of the street life and making it through corporate America. As crazy as it sounds, there’s not very much separation, is there?
Williams: I think in society with social engineering, a lot of us feel that if we are a different race or different religion, society has taught us that the next person is very different from us. And we can’t see eye-to-eye just because we come from different worlds or experiences. Gangstas and crooked people growing up in inner cities are no different than white collar gangstas. White collar gangstas are actually more cutthroat because at least in the neighborhood you know who to look out for. In corporate America, a lot of people have ulterior motives, but they project friendly energy. It’s not really necessary. It’s not these people need me to get by like in the neighborhood. It’s just out of malice. That’s why I feel like it’s grimier in corporate America because of how it’s presented to you.
Zenger: It can be difficult to navigate that.
Williams: Right. And something that my neighborhood taught me, once I started communicating with people in higher level CEO positions or people that made in the upper six figures or north of that, just the intellect and growing the confidence once I interacted with these people, it’s like, “Oh, I can sit in these positions too.” A lot of times we are made to look at certain people as if they are superior to us, especially when we’re coming from inner cities. But we have the same abilities as those people. A lot of those people had easier routes to get there. That’s one thing of just gaining confidence along each step of your journey.
Zenger: Did you anticipate becoming a best-selling author and your books having the kind of impact that they have had?
Williams: Humbly speaking, my mom always told me, “Don’t step at all if you are going to half step.” So, I know the tears, the blood and sweat that I put into each project, or even a client’s book. I put that same energy towards everything. I’m very strategic and I move with a sense of urgency. I visualized the successes that I have had in my career so many times over and over, that all of the excitement is poured into the process each day. So, when it happens, I’m kind of militant about it, so I’m really not surprised. I really put my all into each thing and utilize my natural skillset. I haven’t been surprised so far.
(Edited by André Johnson and Judy Isacoff)
The post ‘Made It Out’ Author Recalls Escape From Streets of New Orleans and Corporate America appeared first on Zenger News.
Mariah Carey Opens Up About Racism During Childhood and More in New Memoir
*Five-time Grammy singer and recording artist Mariah Carey is one of the best-selling female solo recording artists of all-time, with a portfolio full of memorable hit songs since bursting onto the music scene in the late 1980s.
Yet, she also has vivid memories of the racism she endured growing up a bi-racial child in the 1970s and early ‘80s in Huntington, New York, about 32 miles from New York City. Carey is one of three children born to a white mother and an African American and Venezuelan father.
In her new book, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey,” the 50-year-old writes about several incidents that opened her young eyes to bigotry and racism. One incident that stands out in her mind was when she was a young girl and one of her grade school friends came over to the house for a visit.
“The parents didn’t know I was Black. They didn’t know that she (their daughter) was going to go into a Black man’s house,” Carey writes. “They’d only met my mother. The girl burst into tears because she was so freaked out. Mind you, my father is this gorgeous, tall man that looked like a movie star to me and then to see that happen. It just changes your perspective on things, and it twists it. It was just heartbreaking.”
Carey writes about another incident in school that involved a teacher that didn’t know that the future singing star had a Black father and white mother. When students were assigned to draw their parents, the teacher corrected Carey after seeing what the youngster had drawn and colored.
“I was basically traumatized by the teacher who thought I had used the wrong crayon because I had drawn my father with a brown crayon,” recalled Carey. “These are the kinds of experiences that stay with someone at such a young age, even if there isn’t malicious intent on the part of a teacher, or even perhaps a close friend who was unaware that my father was Black.”
Carey is happy that her book has been released in this present climate of racial discord and the heighten national debate about racism. The book, which Carey said took three years to write, is an important tool to talk about racial attitudes between white and Black people. She shared, however, since the release of the book, her nine-year-old son Moroccan has been bullied by a white supremacist he thought was a friend.
Carey said her book is more than reflections of the racism she endured as a child, as she also writes about her 2001 hospitalization due to mental health issues because of exhaustion and other factors; her strained relationship with her mother; dating baseball star Derek Jeter, who was also biracial; her ex-husband, Tommy Mottola’s role in trying to sink the success of “Glitter,” which she starred in 2001; throwing shades on J.Lo; and much more.
During a recent interview on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” Carey said that there’s a possibility that the book may someday come to life as a film or mini-series with Lee Daniels’ involvement. “The Meaning of Mariah Carey,” the songstress told Cohen, “is written in a very ‘visual way.’ ”
Journalist Recalls Prince Visiting Him to ‘Gobble’ Pain Pills ‘Like They Were M&Ms’
*The late-great Prince is said to have had a pill addiction so bad that he once gobbled up a friend’s stash of prescribed opioids.
According to Page Six, in “This Thing Called Life,” author Neal Karlen recounts an injury he suffered in 1997 while Rollerblading and the conversation he had with Prince about the “unlimited” supply of Percocet pills he was prescribed for the pain from breaking several bones in his leg.
Karlen said Prince wanted to come over immediately, which “was not in character.”
“He’d been to my apartment but not for a few years, and for him to schlep so far to pay a little sympathy call felt … meaningful,” Karlen recalls.
Turns out Prince just wanted some painkillers, according to Karlen.
“I didn’t even have time to offer him a glass of water before he spied the white Walgreen’s bottle of pills in my living room,” he writes.
“Prince gobbled a third of the bottle like they were M&Ms, and my heart sank. It was f—king true. I’d heard rumors for years that he’d been off and on heavy painkillers ever since the ‘Purple Rain’ tour a dozen years before,” he continued.
Prince reportedly carried on a conversation with the Minneapolis writer from 1985 until two weeks before his death.
On April 20, 2016, Prince died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl at age 57.
Elsewhere in the book, Karlen writes:
He would really begin to learn, or care, about other people and their needs starting around age 40. He gave away instruments and computers. He funded libraries and school lunches. He gave a million dollars a year to the Minneapolis Urban League. And he didn’t care that his philanthropic efforts, even though they dwarfed most celebrities’, were kept as quiet as if they were his most lethal secrets.
But eventually he tried. He hugged long-lost friends. He talked nostalgically once in a while. And it saved his life, long before an overdose of fentanyl took it. …
“This Thing Called Life” is in bookstores now.
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