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Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
Kendi and Blain assemble 90 writers to cover 400 years of African American history with a mix of essays, short stories, polemics and personal tales (Random House). From the White Lion docking on the shores of Virginia and the first enslaved Africans disembarking in 1619, the authors – each taking on a five-year period – usher us through to present-day. This multiperspective work illuminates our rich and varied history while asking us to consider a new way of thinking about the future.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
In this colorful portrayal of interconnected lives across race and class, Jones asks us to follow her to Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, a quickly changing resort town (Little, Brown and Company). Lala’s grandmother tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale for girls who disobey their mothers and enter the Baxter’s Tunnels. Now grown, Lala lives on the beach with her charismatic husband, Adan, a petty criminal whose thwarted burglary of a seaside mansion sets off a chain of events that leads to terrible consequences and into the tunnels.
Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear by Dr. Carl L. Hart
Columbia University professor Dr. Hart presents a controversial argument: When used responsibly, drugs can enrich and enhance our lives (Penguin Press). An admitted drug user, he calls on decades of research and his personal experience to maintain that the problem isn’t drugs themselves, but rather the criminalization of drug use. Hart aims to push a dialogue that will make us question our own attitudes and maybe start to undo the bonds of structural racism.
The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by Charles Blow
Journalist and New York Times best-selling author Blow delivers this powerful call to action to Black America, imploring us to demand equality on our own terms (Harper). Spurred by the pandemic and last summer’s protests, and tapped into his own experience as a son of the South, he delivers this manifesto meant to be a corrective to our long-held myths around race and geography in America.
TV & Movies
Coming 2 America
Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are back with the highly anticipated sequel to the 1988 cultural classic, co-written by Kenya Barris and directed by Craig Brewer (Amazon Prime). Set off in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, King Akeem and Semmi are off on an all-new adventure that takes them across the globe. James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and John Amos will be reprising their roles alongside new additions like Wesley Snipes, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jones and KiKi Layne. Release date: March 5
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Directed by Lee Daniels and starring Andra Day, this drama follows the crusade the since-dissolved Federal Bureau of Narcotics led against jazz singer Billie Holiday (Hulu). Weaponizing her drug use in an effort to thwart her singing of the poignant and haunting “Strange Fruit,” we watch as she and her band stand on what’s right, refusing to be silenced.
Last Chance U: Basketball
This Emmy-winning docuseries that usually follows an underdog college football team switches gears to basketball in this new adaptation (Netflix). We’re in East Los Angeles this time around following a coach with strong convictions as he leads a team of young men with major college potential. Release date: March 10
Waffles + Mochi
Starring Michelle Obama, this family show aims to get kids and grown-ups together in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals (Netflix). Obama and puppet pals Waffles and Mochi travel the world together meeting famous chefs, learning how to prepare new foods and getting familiar with different cultures. Keep an eye out for other famous guest stars, including Common, Rashida Jones and Zach Galifianakis. Release date: March 16