Charis welcomes poet and author Shayla Lawson and artist and curator Natasha Marin (Black Imagination: Black Voices on Black Futures) for a discussion in celebration of Lawson's new collection, This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls and Being Dope, an insightful and riveting debut essay collection on the richness and resilience of Black girl culture.
In this collection, Shayla introduces her fierce and humorous new voice to the world as she shares a unique mix of personal stories, pop culture observations, and insights into politics and history. Lawson takes on workplace microaggressions, the trials and tribulations of dating, the meaning and pitfalls of “Black girl magic,” and much more. In exploring all of these issues, Lawson looks for the side of the story that isn’t always told.
This is Major sheds light on the many ways Black women and girls have influenced mainstream culture—from their style, to their language, and even their art—and how that culture has ultimately short-changed them. While discussing personal experiences, her anecdotes lead to discussions about urgent issues, such as: American blackness abroad, colorism, mental health, and more. Shayla is at once hilarious and enlightening, honest and authentic.
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About: Shayla Lawson is the author of three books of poetry—A Speed Education in Human Being, the chapbook Pantone, and I Think I’m Ready to see Frank Ocean. She was born in Rochester, Minnesota, grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, studied architecture in Italy and spent a few years as a Dutch housewife—milkmaid braids and all. She teaches at Amherst College and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Twitter/Instagram: @blueifiwasnt
About: Natasha Marin is the curator of Black Imagination: Black Voices on Black Futures (McSweeney's, 2020). Marin is also a conceptual artist whose people-centered projects have circled the globe since 2012 and have been recognized and acknowledged by Art Forum, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, NBC, Al Jazeera, Vice, PBS and others. BLACK IMAGINATION-- a series of conceptual exhibitions—amplifying, centering, and holding sacred a diverse sample of voices including LGBTQIA+ black youth, incarcerated black women, black folks with disabilities, unsheltered black folks, and black children is her bravest work thus far. Her viral web-based project, Reparations, engaged a quarter of a million people worldwide in the practice of "leveraging privilege," and earned Marin, a mother of two, death threats by the dozens. Find more online: Black-Imagination.com Follow on IG: @tash1k0
Named one of the most anticipated books of the year by USA Today, Bitch Magazine, Parade, Salon and Ms. Magazine
"These poems, this book, has hardwood floors, beautiful lines and doors and windows. They are built from organic steel and marble paper. Step between these pages and into a house-no, a village-that love built and decorated with keepsakes from all over the alphabet." - Frank X.
Recommended by Jason Reynolds on PBS News Hour