Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen- Book Discussion

I finally finished reading Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen. If you’re over thirty, it’s a must read. I saw myself and many of the intricacies of the relationships in my life interwoven between the pages. Initially my goal for the book was to use it to relaunch my Facebook book club- Pretty Dope Reads. But then I got the better idea to use my blog as a host for book discussions. That way, readers could access the discussions independent of Facebook. 

The discussion questions have been curated in a way that doesn’t give away any of the details of the book. That way, they can be answered by any general audience but also those that have read the book and have actual context. 

Pretty dope right?

This is a trial run for now. Regardless, the engagement won’t determine if I’ll continue doing it this way or not. Cause one thing about me, I’mma read a book and talk about it til I’m black and blue in the face. Especially a good one. 

But I’ve done enough yip yappin’. Here are the discussion questions. 

  • How many items have you checked off your life goals checklist? What’s left? What’s in the way?
  • Why do you think parent’s avoid discussing certain topics with their children?
  • Is there/was there an elder family member that is/was always a safe space for you? Why?
  • In your current friend group, do you share all the tea at once or are you selective even in the friend group? Would you get offended if your friends were to hang out without you?
  • When was the last time that you should have stood up for yourself but you didn’t? Why not?
  • Has anyone, family or not, advised you to focus more on your man/woman and not on your career? What was your response?
  • Have you ever been blindsided by the abrupt ending of a relationship (personally or professionally)? How did you respond to it?
  • What has been the best advice an elder has given you concerning men/women?
  • What do you do to remind you not to “lose yourself” in the monotony of life?
  • Have you ever had a major fight/argument within your friend group(s)? How did you reconcile?
  • If there has been a major loss in your life, how did you overcome it?

Feel free to share (giving credit where it’s due of course) or discuss within the comments or we can chat via email. Feedback is welcomed.

Children of Blood and Bone

Initially I didn’t want to read this book.

Not because it’s not one of thee most magical books I’ve ever read.

Not because it was 525 pages.

Not because of its name.

I didn’t want to read this book…..well…..because everyone else was reading it.

Super simple. Rather dumb. But I didn’t want everyone ruining the book for me.

This book was the last book that I purchased in store at Barnes and Noble before they close their doors because of COVID-19. I could not have been prepared for the life changing experience that took place between the covers of this book.

This year has been all about personal accountability and this book continued to provide it for me. I began seeing bits and pieces of myself in each of the main characters.

In Zelie, I saw my fears constantly haunting my thoughts and sorrow in my memories. Forgiveness that I owed to myself for not being stronger than I was. I saw my doubts in my ability to lead because of my past. I felt Zelie’s frustration as she struggled with knowing how powerful her gifts were. How draining it was physically when she used them to get her closer to restoring magic in Orisha.

Zelie’s doubt in her strengths reminded me of my own. I still struggle with it sometimes. The imposter syndrome. Other people see and believe in them, but most days for whatever reason, I tend to focus on my weaknesses. Even after bringing magic back (not quite the way she intended), she focused on all fo the things that went wrong. That she failed to accomplish such as protecting Baba. her focus remained on everything she didn’t do along the journey without giving herself credit for the bravery it took to begin the journey.

Tzain reminded me of how strong I always felt the need to be since I’m the oldest sibling. It’s an unspoken responsibility. We aren’t expected to show weakness. We should always lead by example. We have to figure everything out first. The eldest are the protectors. Sometimes that backfires. This happened when Zelie had her first experiences in love with Inan. Sometimes we are forced to sit on the sidelines to allow them to experience life. No matter how much we try to forewarn them. They are bound to make mistakes. I was right there as Tzain gave up the fight and watched Inan break Zelie’s heart. It was even painful to read. But when Zelie needed his reassurance and support, Tzain was right there.

We are all children of blood and bone.

All instruments of vengeance and virtue.

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi

Through Inan I remembered how hard I fought to maintain my religious upbringing even when I no longer identified with it. Knowing that what you were taught no longer makes sense but still feeling the guilty need to honor it as a sign of loyalty and respect. Inan resented his magic based on the fear that he was taught. I was afraid of my spiritual path because of my upbringing. For the longest I rejected the supernatural things that kept happened to me. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to question anything religious. I wanted to be able to question why I could ask questions but was never bold or brave enough to stand up to my folks.  Saran taught Inan and Amari to hate magic. I was raised to believe that people that didn’t go to church couldn’t prosper in life. Those views didnt change until I started meeting people that didn’t go to church that were living prosperous lives. I began meeting people that not only didn’t attend church, but people that had closer relationships with God than the people that I knew that went faithfully. It wasn’t until I had a mental breakdown that I decided to allow my spiritual journey to begin freely. Since giving up the fight, this is the healthiest that it’s ever been. I too, have plenty of friends (like Kaea) and family that don’t understand it. And I’m completely okay with that.

Although I wanted to read this book as pure fiction, I simply couldn’t. I lost track of time. I allowed my imagination to roam freely in Gombe during the festival. I dreamt about maji pulsing through my veins.

I am beyond grateful for the messages I’ve received while reading this book and ordered Children of Virtue and Vengeance before I was done with Children of Blood and Bone. I look forward to the journey continuing for Zelie, Tzain and Amari now the magic is back!

I apologize if you read and assumed that this would be a regular book review. This ain’t that. This isn’t one of those books. You literally have to experience it’s magic firsthand. It’s deeper than fiction.

Read the book? Wanna discuss it? Contact me!

Seventy Moons- Ezekiel Walker Book Review

If you haven’t already, please go back and read my blog titled Black As I Wanna Be: Chopping it Up with Ezekiel Walker. There you’ll find a detailed recap of our first encounter. Since then, we have kept in touch, kept each other motivated creatively, shared laughs and a multitude of ideas.

In this book, Ezekiel puts us in the backseat of his car accidentally turned mobile home as he transitions from a life he comfortably knew in North Carolina to a series of misfortunate events in Indiana. He describes the journey through all five senses using carefully crafted language and humor. While reading I felt raw emotions and shock at the conditions he was willing to be in for the sake of chasing a new opportunity. I was just as frustrated as he was being “sold a dream” in Indiana.

Now I wont spoil the book for you but you already know how I am. I singled out a few of my faves and I’m giving you a basic recap.

It was the first time in my life when I truly felt disposable and insignificant

Prior to his move to Indiana, Ezekiel informed his family and friends that he would be moving to Indiana for a career and living with a “mystery line brother” until he was able to get on his feet. He knew that if he would have told his family that he didn’t really have a plan in place, they would have discouraged him from leaving. He knew that there was no other way.

In Night On the Town we get the firsthand encounter of what it was like for Ezekiel to sleep in his car for the first time. We see how he determines exactly where to park and sleep and the precautions he takes to ensure his safety.

In I’m Just a Nobody and Ye, pt III, Ezekiel admits his feelings of having the tables turned on him going from being an intake coordinator for a Veterans homeless shelter to needing shelter himself. This experience allowed him to reflect on his performance as a former coordinator and reexamine if he truly was as helpful and attentive as he should have been.

Skeme is by far my favorite poem in the book and I have received Ezekiel’s permission to post it here. This poem set the mood for how I want to continue in my very own journey.

Tonight I

Smile without shame

Laugh without pain

Recall without regret

Sigh without stress

Joke without pause

See without fog

Speak without stutter

Plan without clutter

Feel without despair

Live without care

Eventually (a few poems later) Ezekiel is able to secure a job that puts him on his feet again. He proves that the willpower to survive will give you the strength to endure anything that life throws your way.

This collection of poetry serves as a reminder of the light at the end of the tunnel. Life is about taking chances and stepping all the way outside of our comfort zones and into the unknown.

You’ll soon find out once you read it for yourself.

https://www.zekewrites.com

Manuscript Found in Accra- Paulo Coelho

Warning. You may or may not interpret this book as I have. That’s okay. You may hate this book. That’s okay too. We simply have different perspectives that affect our understandings.

A love from my tribe told me that reading this book would change my life. She was right. The Alchemist is already my second favorite book after Their Eyes Were Watching God. Any chance I get to share my favorite quote, I’m taking it.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”

It just so happened that I was in the bookstore and I came across Manuscript Found in Accra. Talk about the Universe looking out! I was anxious to dig in.

The book isn’t broken into your typical chapters. Instead it focuses on the truths that a man named Copt shares with a group of townspeople. The truths he discusses are defeat, solitude, change, beauty, direction, love, living in the present, sex, community/friendship, elegance, work, success, miracles, anxiety, the future, loyalty, weapons and lastly enemies.

These are the truths that resonated with me.

Solitude

In solitude, they will discover the love that might otherwise have arrived unnoticed. In solitude, they will understand and respect the love that left them. In solitude, they will be able to decide whether it is worth asking that lost love to come back or if they should simply let it go and set off along a new path. In solitude, they will learn that saying no does not always show a lack of generosity, and that saying yes is not always a virtue.

This was a hard pill to swallow. Despite my social media presence, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time in solitude. Most days I come home just to spend time in silence with my own thoughts. I don’t turn the TV on. On occasion I may even play instrumental music. This minor routine has given me the most clarity and focus that I’ve never had in my life. My creativity has kicked into overdrive. I’ve taken all focus off of relationships to focus on my health and pursuing my passions whole-heartedly. I realized that solitude was actually the void that needed to be filled in my life before I can be open to receive anything else such as love or even success.

For me, these words don’t necessarily have to apply to romantic love. In solitude I was able to rediscover the love that I was neglecting to give myself. I found myself falling in love with me all over again. It’s also allowed me the opportunity to reflect, forgive myself and move forward from the moment and actions that proved that I wasn’t loving myself.

However, when applied to romantic love, I could also relate. I’ve been reflecting like hell. It’s amazing what we miss when we are caught up in the moment. I am able to see past relationships at face value. Strange right? It’s helped me realize that I’ve only ever loved one person unconditionally (or it could have been stupidity) and how dangerous of a state it is to be in so I need to treat unconditional love more delicately.

Change

Everything changes whether we accept and recognize it or not. The Universe has a funny way of telling you everything that you need to hear at the moment you need to hear it.

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And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say, try routine; that kills you far more quickly.

As it stands I spend forty hours of my life ever week pursuing the passions of someone else when I could be working on my own. It was confirmation that the time has come for me to transition out of my current role.

Direction

Because ever since your goal found out that you were traveling toward it, it has been running to meet you.

I cried when I read this. I cried because I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. I kept rereading and crying even harder. I’ve been putting so much time into this blog, into my poetry, into my writing in general. I’ve also been laying the foundation for Pretty Dope Right? to expand to other areas of interest and the journey is becoming easier. More opportunities are presenting themselves for me to showcase my gift.

Love

Life is too short for us to keep important words like “I love you” locked in our hearts.

Maybe I just give love too freely. I’ve always wondered how and why other people don’t. Other people give up on it. I likely never will. I think what drives me is knowing that one day I’ll actually get it right and everything else in between was just a warmup.

Elegance

Elegance tends to be mistaken for superficiality and mere appearance.

I wonder why people get so caught up in physical attraction. I’ll be honest, even sometimes I get tired of hearing about it. I always ask, well how do you know that beautiful people are good people? People also assume that when you’re beautiful, you’re exempt from negativity, loneliness, pain etc. I assure you, that’s not the case.

Anxiety

As many of you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with anxiety in 2015. These past three years have been one hell of a fight trying to control it without medication. I’ve managed to keep the panic attacks at bay but the anxiety has never fully gone away. One of my minor indicators of me being anxious is biting pen tops. I have to remind myself that “I’m good” or that “regardless of what I’m anxious about, the sun and moon will still take their turns coming out so no worries.”

It will never disappear, but the great wisdom of life is to realize that we can be the masters of the things that try to enslave us.

Enemies

Therefore, your enemies are not the adversaries who were put there to test your courage. They are the cowards who were put there to test your weakness.

 

Have you read Manuscript Found in Accra? What were your interpretations of it?