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What does it mean to call a place home? Who is allowed to become a member of a community? When can we say that we truly belong?
These are some of the questions of place and belonging that renowned cultural critic bell hooks examines in her new book, Belonging: A Culture of Place. Traversing past and present, Belonging charts a cyclical journey in which hooks moves from place to place, from country to city and back again, only to end where she began--her old Kentucky home.
A wry account of the road from Harvard scholarship student to ordination as northern Thailand's first black Buddhist nun.
Reluctantly leaving behind Pop Tarts and pop culture to battle flying rats, hissing cobras, forest fires, and decomposing corpses, Faith Adiele shows readers in this personal narrative, with accompanying journal entries, that the path to faith is full of conflicts for even the most devout. Residing in a forest temple, she endured nineteen-hour daily meditations, living on a single daily meal, and days without speaking. Internally Adiele battled against loneliness, fear, hunger, sexual desire, resistance to the Buddhist worldview, and her own rebellious Western ego. Adiele demystifies Eastern philosophy and demonstrates the value of developing any practice―Buddhist or not. This "unlikely, bedraggled nun" moves grudgingly into faith, learning to meditate for seventy-two hours at a stretch. Her witty, defiant twist on the standard coming-of-age tale suggests that we each hold the key to overcoming anger, fear, and addiction; accepting family; redefining success; and re-creating community and quality of life in today's world.
Globe-trotting attorney Lee assembled 52 travel pieces presenting the uncommon perspective of black women, mostly African Americans. Assembled under the headings "Back to Africa," "Sistren Travelin'," and "Trippin' All Over the World," many initially appeared in popular women's or travel magazines. Personal impressions based on chats with the locals is the preferred journalistic style, with articles extolling the dignity, demeanor, and dress of Ghanaian and Nigerian women; a cautionary tale about smooth-talking West Indian men; a whimsical account of experiencing a coup in Trinidad; discovery of "love, peace and happiness" in Bahia; and a flirtatious stroll during Carnival in Venice. Gwendolyn Brooks in pre-perestroika Leningrad, perceptive snapshots of Thailand and the former Yugoslavia, and too-brief accounts of visits to slave-sites highlight the collection. Much of the other material is of similar travelog appeal, though some practical advice is also provided.
Langston Hughes, born in 1902, came of age early in the 1920s. In The Big Sea he recounts those memorable years in the two great playgrounds of the decade--Harlem and Paris. In Paris he was a cook and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he was a rising young poet--at the center of the "Harlem Renaissance."
The nation's wild places-from national and state parks to national forests, preserves, and wilderness areas-belong to all Americans. But not all of us use these resources equally. Minority populations are much less likely to seek recreation, adventure, and solace in our wilderness spaces. It's a difference that African American author James Mills addresses in his new book, The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors.
Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism? In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the "great outdoors" and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces. Drawing on a variety of sources from film, literature, and popular culture, and analyzing different historical moments, including the establishment of the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.
Tété-Michel Kpomassie was a teenager in Togo when he discovered a book about Greenland—and knew that he must go there. Working his way north over nearly a decade, Kpomassie finally arrived in the country of his dreams. This brilliantly observed and superbly entertaining record of his adventures among the Inuit is a testament both to the wonderful strangeness of the human species and to the surprising sympathies that bind us all.
Black Girl in Paris wends its way around the mythology or Paris as a city that has called out to African-American artists. Like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Josephine Baker before her, Youngblood's heroine leaves her home, in the American South, nurturing a dream of finding artistic emancipation in the City of Light. She experiments freely, inhabiting different incarnations - artist's model, poet's helper, au pair, teacher, thief, and lover - to keep body and soul together, to stay afloat, heal the wounds of her broken heart, discover her sexual self, and, finally, to wrestle her dreams of becoming a writer into reality.
After accepting her Dutch boyfriend's invitation to move from sultry New Orleans, Carolyn finds herself in the land of windmills, wooden shoes and endless gray skies. As she moves away from the remnants of her tragic childhood and America's obsession with race, she is plunged into the depths of homesickness, depression and a declaration of war on her own hair. She travels through motherhood and a career change, and her determination is put to the test. On the way to self-discovery, she ends up finding love, soul sisters and the secret to avoiding bad hair days. In this mid-life memoir, Carolyn writes candidly about how getting engaged in Paris, losing her passport in Cuba and dealing with Dutch people on their bikes (among other quirky adventures) have changed her ideas about being a black woman in the world.
Legendary writer and activist Richard Wright expatriated to Paris, France, in 1946, noting in his essay I Choose Exile that more freedom exists in one square block in Paris than in the entire continental United States. He became renown as one of the few African-Americans to write travel literature at the time, and this collection of somewhat academic explorations of those writings examines the writer’s relationship to the predominantly white genre.
This book is made up of twenty-three stories, each from a different author from across the globe. All belong to one world, united in their diversity and ethnicity. And together they have one aim: to involve and move the reader.
Books by black people about reconnecting with yourself and your ancestry through travel
In 1962 the poet, musician, and performer Maya Angelou claimed another piece of her identity by moving to Ghana, joining a community of "Revolutionist Returnees" inspired by the promise of pan-Africanism. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes is her lyrical and acutely perceptive exploration of what it means to be an African American on the mother continent, where color no longer matters but where American-ness keeps asserting itself in ways both puzzling and heartbreaking. As it builds on the personal narrative of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together in My Name, this book confirms Maya Angelou’s stature as one of the most gifted autobiographers of our time.
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