Gone are X-Acto knives and fax machines but not our truth-telling mission

An early byline in my Hollywood High School newspaper

Journalism is an ever-changing, volatile profession right about now. Nothing is as it was when I started out some 30 years ago. To start, there was more money in the flush early 1990s. More time, too. Time for leisurely Manhattan lunches with editors; time to toss ideas back and forth, in-person, talking them through and brainstorming. Writers often have just a germ of an idea and need help flushing it out. For me, there is nothing better than working with a smart editor who knows exactly which river to lead you to.

Now, beginning reporters had better be good at…

An interview with the author of ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen: The Emotional Lives of Black Women’

Book cover provided by the author. Illustration: Save As/Medium

We all know about the myth of the super-powered Black superwoman. It’s been ingrained in our consciousness for generations. But is it healthy? Inger Burnett-Zeigler, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, says the strong Black woman mask we wear is an illusion that prevents us from being “our authentic and abundant selves.”

Burnett-Zeigler’s new book, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen: The Emotional Lives of Black Women, takes a hard look at the mask and how to identify it and offers suggestions on why and how to take it off. …

It’s disrespectful that three survivors are still living in poverty with no reparations in sight

Give her all the flowers. Viola Fletcher accepts roses and lilies during a commemoration event for the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. Photo: Getty Images

All eyes are on Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week as the nation remembers the tragic events of May 31 to June 1, 1921, when a White mob killed some 300 Black residents and looted the community known as “Black Wall Street” before burning it to the ground.

The official agenda put forth by the city’s Centennial Commission offered a slew of redeeming events, including a candlelight vigil, an economic empowerment day featuring actor and author Hill Harper, and a day of learning with scholar Cornel West.

But all is not as it seems on this centennial anniversary. In the midst of…

Because a lot of the time, the publisher’s advance just doesn’t cut it

Photo: temmuzcan/Getty Images

I once received an email from a reader and aspiring author. “How did you get funding to support your book?” she asked. “How did you pay for travel and other resources?” Her question got me thinking.

Over the years I’ve received contracts for advances as high as $150,000 (in the more flush 1990s) and as low as $3,000. It’s a maddening process, and one that can be disheartening for even the most thick-skinned authors. We tend to think of nonfiction book proposal writing as a fixed, singular process. Optimistic authors find agents, who send our proposals to publishers. Then we…

What does it mean to be a mother? What does it mean to be a Black mother? Those two questions continue to yield entirely different answers in America today. As the biracial mother of a 4-year-old girl with both Asian American and African American roots, and a father from Spain to boot, I am constantly aware of the way her identity is being shaped by the sights and smells and sounds that she takes in every day — on television, at the playground, and in her preschool classroom.

“Her hair is curly like mine,” she’ll say when we see another…

Photo courtesy of the author

Coming from a multiracial background can leave some students feeling isolated

“As a person of color…” Phoebe Vlahoplus, 20, a history major at Wesleyan University pauses.

“Or… half a person of color.”

“It depends,” she says carefully when I ask if she’s uncomfortable using the phrase. She is East Indian and Greek, but her parents were born in the United States. “I can’t speak for immigrants.” She weighs the considerations, then adds, “But my skin color is Brown.”

Meiko Flynn-Do is Japanese, Vietnamese, and White but before attending Stanford University, where mixed-race students made up 11% of undergraduates in 2012, she never saw herself as a “person of color. That wasn’t…

An illustrated graphic featuring various text such as: #Blackipino, #Blaxican, #Hapa, #Blasian.
An illustrated graphic featuring various text such as: #Blackipino, #Blaxican, #Hapa, #Blasian.

Radical changes in U.S. demographics are reinventing what it means to be multiracial

“Raise your hand if you would see me on the street and think I’m Black?”

Several hands went up in an auditorium full of college students.

“Okay. What about biracial?”

More hands.

“Hmm… And what if I wore my hair in an Afro?”

Still more hands flew into the air.

What are you?

Multiracial people field that question daily.

Not long ago — before, during, and just after the civil rights era — there was often an unspoken understanding that those of us who are biracial should answer to only one race. One reality. One allegiance. …

Photo courtesy of the author

Proving who you are, and having others accept you as such, can be frustrating

Sonia Smith-Kang wears a lot of hats. She calls herself a multicultural activist but an equally accurate description might be something like “master connector.” Across genres and platforms, live and online, she’s a collaborative entrepreneur who seems to be constantly strategizing new ways to expand and strengthen her support network for multiracial people and families.

Currently, she’s president of the Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC), one of the oldest and largest organizations of its kind, with 17,000 members. The group boasts a social media following of about 50,000 according to Kang, with activities ranging from educational and legislative campaigns…

Photo: halbergman/Getty Images

Hint: It’s not where you might expect

“Black. Ivory. Shadow.”

I repeat the words to make sure I heard them right.

“Black. Ivory… Shadow?”

“Yeah.” Jasmin Baker, 25, is cracking up.

“When I was younger I made it my thing.” She lowers her voice, making it seductive. “Like… yeah. I’m black ivory shadow.”

“Right.” Now her boyfriend, Grant Wyena, 28, is laughing too. “Real dark and mysterious.”

We’re at the Evergreen Café in downtown Tacoma, Washington early one July morning where they’ve agreed to talk to me about multiracial identity in Tacoma. …

Photos courtesy of the author

In this intimate Q&A, three authors discuss how they’re changing the narratives about people of color

This conversation has been lightly edited for space and clarity.

ZORA: T. Kira, your book, “Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls,” isn’t just about race. It’s about loss, addiction, sexuality and sexual violence, gender, power, and so many other issues. But I want to focus on race here for a minute.

Growing up in Boca Raton, Florida, your friends called you “Kinky Chinky.” Your mother, Lokilani, cursed in Chinese. Your grandmother visited from Hawaii. Your mixed-race heritage wasn’t a secret, but nor was it explicitly acknowledged or discussed in your family. People wondered if you were “a mutt from China, or Cuba, or Mexico, or Samoa. Nobody can be sure.” Did your parents ever talk to you frankly about race?

T. Kira Madden: My parents were just: “This is the way it is. We don’t see color.” They were kind of oblivious about that. I was raised in a predominantly White, privileged community. There were no other people who looked like me. My best friend was Black and she was the only Black girl in school. I was the only Asian girl. We would often sort of practice racial slurs with each other as preparation for when other people said those things to us.

We didn’t have any understanding of…

Kristal Brent Zook

Award-winning journalist. Women, social justice, race, health, spirit. kristalbrentzook.com authory.com/KristalBrentZook @HofstraU

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