Charis and Loyalty Bookstores welcome Gerrick Kennedy in conversation with Malik Thompson for a discussion of Didn't We Almost Have It All: In Defense of Whitney Houston. A candid exploration of the genius, shame, and celebrity of Whitney Houston a decade after her passing.
Kennedy deftly peels back the layers of Whitney’s complex story to get to the truth at the core of what drove her, what inspired her, and what haunted her. He pulls the narrative apart into the key elements that informed her life—growing up in the famed Drinkard family; the two romantic relationships that shaped the entirety of her adult life, with Robyn Crawford and Bobby Brown; her fraught relationship to her own Blackness and the ways in which she was judged by the Black community; her drug and alcohol addiction; and, finally, the shame that she carried in her heart, which informed every facet of her life. Drawing on hundreds of sources, Kennedy takes readers back to a world in which someone like Whitney simply could not be, and explains in excruciating detail the ways in which her fame did not and could not protect her.
In the time since her passing, the world and the way we view celebrity have changed dramatically. A sweeping look at Whitney’s life, Didn’t We Almost Have It All contextualizes her struggles against the backdrop of tabloid culture, audience consumption, mental health stigmas, and racial divisions in America. It explores exactly how and why we lost a beloved icon far too soon.
Gerrick Kennedy is an award-winning journalist, cultural critic, and author based in Los Angeles. Kennedy is the author of Parental Discretion Is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap. His writing has appeared in GQ, WSJ. Magazine, NPR Music, Spin, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Shondaland, Cultured Magazine, Men’s Health, and the Los Angeles Times.
Malik Thompson is a Black queer man proud to be from D.C. A bookseller, anime fanatic, and workshop facilitator. Malik has worked with Split This Rock, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Moonlit DC as a workshop facilitator. He also organized the Poets In Protest poetry series at the Black queer-owned bookstore Loyalty Bookstores. Malik’s work can be found inside of Split This Rock’s Poetry Database as well as the mixed media journal Voicemail Poems. You can find Malik’s thoughts on literature via his Instagram account @negroliterati.
Loyalty Bookstores are queer, black-owned bookstores located in Petworth, DC, and Silver Spring, MD.
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A candid exploration of the genius, shame, and celebrity of Whitney Houston a decade after her passing
On February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston was found submerged in the bathtub of her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. In the decade since, the world has mourned her death amid new revelations about her relationship to her Blackness, her sexuality, and her addictions.