by Ari Robin McKenna
Three years ago on Orcas Island during the first-annual African American Males Weekend — while pretending to be asleep on one of the Camp Orkila bunk beds — Chukundi Salisbury overheard the innocent chatter of his son’s bunkmates take a turn as they thought their cabin leader had fallen asleep. Though he knew all the boys’ parents, he was troubled by the eleven- and twelve-year-olds’ need to stretch the truth in order to seem reckless, and by the way that they all fell in line with whoever stretched the truth farthest. Even his own son, Chukundi Jr, said things that seemed out of character to his dad.
Salisbury eventually dozed off feeling like the boys in his cabin needed representation, they needed … to see themselves in stories that deal with the complexity of their lives. The next day, while almost 200 Black boys mingled around a bonfire, Salisbury could imagine them reading high-interest texts or comics in their cabins, then coming out to the amphitheater bonfire to share their reactions and to sort through tough issues together. He tried to imagine the same thing happening in their classrooms. He tried to imagine Black boys reading stories written with them in mind, in classrooms where they feel appreciated, being comfortable sharing their actual feelings in front of others. But he knew that this is rarely the case.
Continue reading Comic Book Series Based on Coming of Age in the South End Launches
by Beverly Aarons
Crumbling brick buildings litter a once thriving business district. Two-story homes blackened with soot sit boarded up and abandoned. Children find pipes and needles in sandboxes. Twenty students share five books in a freezing classroom … no heat. No food tonight, just too expensive. No new shoes — wear your older sibling’s pair and line the holes with newsprint. This is America: Late ‘70s and ‘80s. To be clear, this is America’s urban ghettos: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and yes, even Seattle. One generation earlier, much of Black America fled the vicious Jim Crow south seeking safety and opportunity in the north only to find itself pinned into economic wastelands with no capital and little opportunity for growth. And it is within this context that hip hop was born. During my interview with Daudi Abe, a Seattle Central College professor and the author of Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle, he shared his thoughts on hip hop and its political and cultural impact.
Abe, who was born and raised in Seattle, teaches a class on the history of hip hop at Seattle Central College. Most of his students are in their late teens and early 20s, and they have a hard time understanding the context from which hip hop was born, he said. But context is key to understanding why hip hop survived and thrived while other music genres such as disco faded into history.
Continue reading Seattle Author Daudi Abe Explores Hip Hop’s Political Roots and Seattle Rappers’ Cultural Influence
by Beverly Aarons
Witchcraft, futuristic tech, goblins, mermaids, magical spells, dystopian/utopian futures, and other fantastical imaginings are all common themes in science fiction. And every Black nerd knows that there is a sizable number of Black people who love to read the genre. So why is it still so difficult to track down speculative fiction stories written by contemporary Black women authors? There’s certainly no shortage of Black women writing in the genre. And many of those writers are incredibly prolific. The biggest challenge seems to be curatorial. Some of these works remain “undiscovered” by a wide swath of readers because there are not enough people who seek out, read, and vet published science fiction stories written by Black women.
Continue reading Sistah Scifi Makes Space for Stories Black Geeks, Nerds, and ‘Weirdos’ Will Love
by Maggie Block
At the beginning of Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, the King County Library System (KCLS) and the South Seattle Emerald teamed up to offer book recommendations to help readers get through the pandemic shutdown. While there may be more opportunities to get out and about now, many of us continue to spend more time at home, and could still use some great reading material to consume during the reopening process.
With that in mind, I am happy to inform you that KCLS is now offering Curbside to Go at select locations! You can place holds on KCLS’ physical materials, and pick them up outside one of our many participating libraries, including the Skyway Library for all you South Enders. Surprise bags of books are also available at Curbside to Go locations, which are filled with five books according to age and interest. Visit kcls.org/curbside to learn more about library locations, hours of operation, and how to schedule a pickup.
Continue reading Stay-at-Home, Read-at-Home with KCLS: Curbside to Go is Open!
by Maggie Block
At the beginning of Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, the King County Library System (KCLS) and the South Seattle Emerald teamed up to offer digital book recommendations to help readers get through the pandemic shutdown. While there may be more opportunities to get out and about now, many of us continue to spend time at home and could still use some great reading material to consume during the reopening process.
All you need is a KCLS library card to access our digital collections. If you don’t have one, residents in the KCLS service area (in King County, outside the City of Seattle) can sign up instantly for a digital eCard. When you get your library card and PIN number, all you have to do is enter them to search for titles in BookFlix and hoopla. And the Libby app makes it especially easy to download digital titles through OverDrive. Contact Ask KCLS if you need assistance with your account or to get help finding and downloading titles. KCLS has also started offering Curbside to Go at select locations.
Continue reading Stay-at-Home, Read-at-Home With KCLS: Summer of Imagination
by Beverly Aarons
Does this poem bring you joy? Does it move through and speak to your body? Does it make you think and feel something deeply? Arianne True, a Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations poet and experiential educator, has important questions for all poets, both young and old, but especially for the middle-school students at Hugo House’s Scribes summer writing camp. How can the experience of poetry shape how you see yourself and history?
Continue reading Does This Poem Bring You Joy? A Conversation With Arianne True