Stuff I’m Enjoying Lately

A few months back I borrowed Addie Zierman’s post style and shared music I’ve been listening to lately. I keep meaning to do it again and put it off, so today I thought I’d share a smorgasbord of stuff I’m excited about lately: crowd-funded comic book projects, music, books, picture books, an event and a little self promotion about what I’ve been doing.

Comic Books to Support

The lack of diversity in, well, just about everything, is a common theme these days. That’s why I track the diversity in my reading and actively work to diversify my life (it’s slow going).

I think an important part of that is supporting diversity. Vote with your dollars. Today I came across two opportunities to do just that:

  • Black – What if only black people had super powers? That’s the premise of this comic book being funded on Kickstarter. The creators came to that question after thinking about the outsider nature of comic book super heroes vs. how people of color often feel like outsiders. The difference is most people of color can’t just take off the cape, as it were, and be “normal.” The project is nearly funded already (which is encouraging).
  • Tuskegee Heirs – The history of the Tuskegee Airman meets Voltron. This just sounds like a fun adventure story. Plus, it’s already blown passed the $10,000 goal, with over $45,000 so far.

Music

  • “Chasing Twisters” and “Run” by Delta Rae – I don’t like country, but somehow I’m falling for more and more country-influenced music.
  • “Beneath the Brine” by The Family Crest – This song just soars. Period.
  • “Run or Hide” by Run River North – This is the single from their new album that comes out this month. I like their old sound, but this new direction feels just as intriguing. (Also, why are there so few Asians in popular American music?)
  • “Ichiban” by Batsauce – Can’t get enough of those triumphant opening riffs. This track played on the Tuskegee Heirs video and I’ve been listening to it all day.
  • “The Three of Us” by Streetlight Manifesto – I went on a ska kick the other day and discovered this group. I’m sure it’s not for everybody, but I love me some ska.
  • “High Note” by Mavis Staples – The first single from this ridiculous new album featuring collaborations between Mavis Staples and all sorts of musical elites (Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Neko Case, M. Ward, etc.). Valerie June (one of my recent favorites) wrote this song and appears on it with Mavis.
  • “Mmlj” and “Little Light” by The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers – I’m really liking their full-on gospel sound, but I have to admit it feels a little weird to see a group of white folks calling themselves “Gospel Singers.”

Books

  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – This is the author’s fan fiction for a Harry Potter-esque series she created for another novel (Fan Girl) where a character writes yet more fan fiction. So meta. But none of that matters, because it’s so good on its own.
  • Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past by Diane Wilson – Part memoir, part fiction about discovering family connections to the 1862 Dakota Uprising in Minnesota. It especially focuses on mixed-race people, which is a especially unique complication in the Dakota Uprising.
  • Just Write!: Here’s How by Walter Dean Myers – One of the most practical how-to books on writing I’ve ever read. I appreciate Myers’ focus on planning (he published more than 100 books, so he knew how to deliver) and his permission to daydream.
  • See No Color by Shannon Gibney – The clueless adoptive parents in this YA novel really annoyed me, but I still think it presents an important perspective on transracial adoption.

Picture Books for Black History Month

I didn’t plan this, but both my recommendations are by the same author. That’s telling, considering they’re both overviews of potentially lesser known black heroes. So not only are these books worth checking out, but so is the wider work of Carole Boston Weatherford.

  • Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford – The strength, grace and grit of this Mississippi civil rights hero is incredible. I’ve been meaning to dig deeper into her story, but this book offers a great overview.
  • Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing’s African American Champion by Carole Boston Weatherford – Wendell Scott raced prejudice and racism as well as his NASCAR competitors. It’s hard to imagine the environment of hate he faced in the South in the early 1960s. I talked about his story yesterday with that cool StoryCorps animation.

Events

Speaking of Addie Zierman, I’m really excited about an event we’re doing with her at my church. She’ll be talking about faith in the darkness—something we can appreciate here in Minnesota winter—and sharing from her new book. The event is called Faith in the Darkness, and it’s on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

Self Promotion

And here’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to.

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