Under the Gun

So the argu­ment goes some­thing like this: Police­men come into con­tact with any num­ber of vio­lent, crim­i­nal black men dur­ing the course of their careers, and so it is only rea­son­able that they should view all black men as poten­tial threats, and should have their loaded guns at the ready, when­ev­er, wher­ev­er, and under whatever […]

What a Word is Worth

Let­ter writ­ing has become a lost art. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. I wish it was­n’t true. Beyond sim­ply lan­guish­ing in a sea of despond over the mat­ter, though, I do my best to hold the line. I write let­ters, at least ran­dom­ly, if not rou­tine­ly. No mat­ter how much time I need to […]

A Question of Perspective

Novem­ber has come crash­ing in, with adver­tis­ers’ ear­ly and relent­less push for Christ­mas. I, on the oth­er hand, am strug­gling to stave off the end-of-year book award sea­son blues that fol­low on the heels of this hol­i­day. I love Christ­mas but, for now, I’m cor­ralling my thoughts to keep them focused on, say, Thanks­giv­ing. Besides, […]

The Problem with Poetry

For the record, just because a par­tic­u­lar notion is repeat­ed, over and over again, does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly make it true. The earth is not flat, nor is it the cen­ter of the uni­verse. Peo­ple of African descent are not intel­lec­tu­al­ly infe­ri­or to the white race. And con­trary to what you may have heard, over the years, […]

The Prince of Peace

Every now and then, some­one in my life nudges me to write my mem­oir. I nod and make rea­son­able excus­es for putting it off. I’ve got this chil­dren’s series to fin­ish first; my com­pre­hen­sive work­shop notes require all my atten­tion; I’ve got a con­fer­ence keynote to pre­pare; my car needs a tune-up; the win­dows need […]

The Chick-Fil‑A Fiasco

The ques­tion must be asked: What is Amer­i­ca com­ing to? A pri­vate cit­i­zen who owns his own busi­ness, albeit a large one, makes a state­ment about his per­son­al opin­ion on a hot-but­­ton issue, and those who hold a dif­fer­ing point of view respond by orga­niz­ing a move­ment to put said cit­i­zen out of busi­ness. Really? […]


Ban­ning books, rip­ping them from class­room shelves, de-fac­­to cen­sor­ship at the point of publication—what the bleep is going on, here? Okay. I’ll try to calm down, but the effort required is tremen­dous. Deep breaths. Let me begin, again. When I was a lit­tle girl, I was an avid read­er. The library was my sanc­tu­ary, and story […]

An Award by Any Other Name

My lat­est nov­el, Plan­et Mid­dle School, was nom­i­nat­ed for an IMAGE Award, the only award for which it was nom­i­nat­ed, in fact. It did­n’t win. Plan­et Mid­dle School received won­der­ful reviews includ­ing one star. It’s got­ten great feed­back from fans. Every­one who has read it loves it. But the nov­el did not win an award. Does […]

The Color of Character

For the record, I’ve nev­er had a nose job, or tried to bleach my skin. I do not straight­en my hair—not that there’s any­thing wrong with that. The fact is, for decades now, I have worn my hair nat­ur­al in cel­e­bra­tion of my African her­itage. I am now, and have always been, black and proud. That […]

The Push to Publish

While chan­nel surf­ing the oth­er day, I came across a real­i­ty show about child beau­ty pageants. A four or five year old con­tes­tant was asked what she want­ed to be when she grew up, and her answer was “famous.” Her par­ent seemed pleased with that response, nev­er once sug­gest­ing to her daugh­ter that, per­haps, she […]