Bernardine Evaristo: ‘These are unprecedented times for black female writers’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-12-01 01:12Z by Steven

Bernardine Evaristo: ‘These are unprecedented times for black female writers’

The Guardian

Bernardine Evaristo

‘These times really are extraordinary’ … Bernardine Evaristo. Photograph: Karen Robinson/The Observer

The first black woman to win the Booker prize argues that a revolution is sweeping through British publishing. But can it lead to lasting change?

Chidera Eggerue, AKA The Slumflower, is a social media star, south-east London homegirl and feminist. She first came to prominence in 2017 when she created the hashtag #SaggyBoobsMatter on Twitter in order to promote the body-positive message that women’s breasts and bodies are fine just as they are. It’s an important idea and antithetical to a beauty industry that berates us for our imperfections. A year later Eggerue published a self-help motivational book, What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough, which entered the Sunday Times bestseller list the week it was published in 2018, when she was 23. In her very pink, zanily illustrated book, Eggerue, a self-styled “guru, confidante and best friend” to her readers, offers advice on self-worth and self-acceptance. An earlier booklet called Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women, by Otegha Uwagba, became a bestseller in 2016, paving the way for Eggerue. This, in turn, was probably influenced by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2014 essay We Should All Be Feminists.

These are unprecedented times for black female writers, in no small part due to the internet. It has reconfigured how we present ourselves to the world at large, as well as bringing previously marginalised social groups and writing to the fore in ways hitherto unimaginable. As a society we are beginning to recognise and take seriously the ills and pitfalls of social media, but it is still the most exciting channel of mass communication since history began…

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Podcast #75: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith on Race, Writing, and Relationships

Posted in Articles, Audio, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-27 00:55Z by Steven

Podcast #75: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith on Race, Writing, and Relationships

The NYPL Podcast
The New York Public Library
New York, New York

Tracy O’Neill, Social Media Curator

There are few authors as smart, powerful, and visionary as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith. Adichie’s Americanah won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award with its delicious satire, while Smith took the Orange Prize for her moving transatlantic novel On Beauty. This week, we’re proud to present Adichie and Smith discussing clear writing, race, and relationships on the New York Public Library Podcast.

For more details, click here.

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International Blackness vs. Homegrown Negroes: Lupita, Chimamanda, Thandie and me

Posted in Africa, Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-03-05 01:33Z by Steven

International Blackness vs. Homegrown Negroes: Lupita, Chimamanda, Thandie and me


Esther Armah

“She is very white!” Revered Swedish film critic Jannike Åhlund watches a clip of actress Thandie Newton playing Olanna, one of the Nigerian twin sisters in the film adaptation of the award-winning novel Half of a Yellow Sun by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In January, the Goteborg International Film Festival and International Writers’ Stage Gothenburg co-hosted a conversation between Jannike and Chimamanda in Sweden. The audience laughed awkwardly at Jannike’s assertion. Chimamanda frowned at the description. Critiques of Thandie Newton in this leading role gathered force. Chimamanda was called upon to respond to them.

Half of a Yellow Sun is one of Chimamanda Adichie’s three novels. Chimamanda’s name exploded in popular circles recently when Beyoncé included a quote from her TEDx talk, “We Should All Be Feminists,” on the track “Flaweless” from her latest album. Half of a Yellow Sun also stars award-winning Nigerian-British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor of 12 Years a Slave fame and African American actress Anika Noni Rose. Rose stars as Olanna’s fraternal twin, Kainene.

Chimamanda seized the opportunity that Jannike’s comment provided to talk about the complexity of shades within blackness and specific issues of international blackness. The criticism internationally has been that Thandie Newton is not Nigerian and is therefore a problematic choice for the lead role…

Igbo is a tribe in Nigeria, as is Yoruba, Hausa and Ogoni. The term “Igbo yellow” identified you as the “enemy” during the bloody and brutal Biafran War (the subject of the book and film). Thandie’s light skin as Olanna does not equate to the privilege rooted in the history of shadism and colorism in America. Thandie is not Nigerian – and for some Nigerians her authenticity – and that of the film – wanes precisely because of her “foreign blackness.”

Debates and discussions around colorism and shade in America are often cyclical and absolute — light skinned equals privilege, light is Hollywood leading lady, light is the chosen one; dark equals rejected, ugly, undesirable, unimportant. That is indeed a truth, but it is one of many truths. That is the framing of complexion narratives, and that of the legacy of untreated trauma of America’s history where enslaved Africans had babies by slave masters beginning the panorama of complexion on these shores. Historically, the closer to white you were, the better the treatment you received. Time travel though history and in today’s America that legacy persists, manifesting in celebrity, beauty magazines, and leading lady selection. It continues to be the cause of pain and hurt within and among African American communities, and diasporan black folk due to Western standards of beauty. A recent hour long Oprah’s Life Class on Colorism with New York Times best-selling author and teacher Iyanla Vanzant explored the issue with an audience full of black women running the gamut from deepest chocolate to the lightest of light skinned blacks. Actor and director Bill Duke in his documentary Dark Girls also explored the issue of complexion…

…There is work that contributes to expanding narratives around blackness. Scholar and producer Dr. Yaba Blay’s pivotal projects–(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race and “Pretty.Period,” open up the conversations about the two extremes of color – light and dark skinned – contextualizing, clarifying, honoring and celebrating what has often been divisive, contentious, difficult space. On Dr. Blay’s site, she explains her reasoning for Pretty.Period. a visually delicious website that features darker skinned black women. For Dr. Blay, ‘Pretty. Period’ pushes back against the privileging of a single story in relation to complexion. Blay writes, “We focus primarily on the sociopolitical disadvantages that come with being dark-skinned in a society that continues to privilege and prioritize White/Western standards of beauty…

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‘Americanah’ Author Explains ‘Learning’ To Be Black In The U.S.

Posted in Articles, Audio, Interviews, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-01 00:40Z by Steven

‘Americanah’ Author Explains ‘Learning’ To Be Black In The U.S.

Fresh Air from WHYY
National Public Radio

Terry Gross, Host

When the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was growing up in Nigeria she was not used to being identified by the color of her skin. That changed when she arrived in the United States for college. As a black African in America, Adichie was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in the United States. Race as an idea became something that she had to navigate and learn.

The learning process took some time and was episodic. Adichie recalls, for example, an undergraduate class in which the subject of watermelon came up. A student had said something about watermelon to an African-American classmate, who was offended by the comment.

“I remember sitting there thinking, ‘But what’s so bad about watermelons? Because I quite like watermelons,’ ” Adichie tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.

She felt that her African-American classmate was annoyed with her because Adichie didn’t share her anger — but she didn’t have the context to understand why. The history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade was not taught to students in Nigeria. Adichie had yet to learn fully about the history of slavery — and its continuing reverberations — in the U.S.

“Race is such a strange construct,” says Adichie, “because you have to learn what it means to be black in America. So you have to learn that watermelon is supposed to be offensive.”

Adichie is a MacArthur Fellowship winner and author of the novels Purple Hibiscus and Half of A Yellow Sun. Her new novel, Americanah, explores this question of what it means to be black in the U.S., and tells the story of a young Nigerian couple, one of whom leaves for England and the other of whom leaves for America.

The title, she says, is a Nigerian word for those who have been to the U.S. and return with American affectations.

“It’s often used,” she says, “in the context of a kind of gentle mockery.”…

Read the transcript here. Listen to the interview here. Download the interview here.

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“Home is Nowehere”: Negotiating Identities in Colonized Worlds

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2011-10-02 01:23Z by Steven

“Home is Nowehere”: Negotiating Identities in Colonized Worlds

University of Georgia
57 pages

Julia A. Tigner

A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of The University of Georgia in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree MASTER OF ARTS

The Bildungsroman, a term that derived from German literary criticism, is a genre of literature that highlights popular conceptions of manhood and depicts the growth of the male protagonist. Many female authors use the Bildungsroman as a form of cultural expression not only to transform patriarchal views, but also to redefine femininity, articulate cultural conflict, and describe what it means to be a woman in a colonized culture. I will revisit this topic in Michelle Cliff’s Abeng (1984) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus (2003), and examine family dynamics in order to show how each female protagonist negotiates the complexities of a hybrid identity and attempts to harmonize two opposite cultures.



Read the entire thesis here.

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