What does it mean to be a Black man?

A Tribute to Deno, painting by Ananda Leeke

(appears on back cover of Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One – www.lovestroubadours.com)

Happy Thursday,

Today I am celebrating the birthday of my best friend and co-writer Deno Moss.  Deno was born in 1962. He made his life transition on February 6, 2003 (two days after his 42nd birthday).  During the last two years of his life, Deno spent an enormous of time working with me as a co-writer on the Love’s Troubadours novel series.  He is one of the reasons I started writing the novel.  His persistence, support, friendship, and writing talent made him the perfect partner.  He also happened to be my best friend from the time we met during my freshmen year at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

During the course of our 20 year friendship, I witnessed Deno’s journey as a creative, giving, consistent, and loving Black man who was a husband to Marcie, father to Jordan, son to his mother, brother to his siblings, and friend to many.  He gave from his heart.  He shared wisdom wrapped in his Wilmington, Delaware accent, silly humor, life experiences, soul music, comic books, and Brooklyn living.  He continues to give from his heart as my guardian angel.

Last night I was doing research for one of Deno’s favorite characters Symon Allure, the main man in my new book Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two. Symon is a post-soul man born in 1963. His mom is Afro-Cuban. His dad is African American with Richmond, Virginia roots. When the book opens, you meet Symon in a state of reflection about what happened to him in 1968. One of his memories is his father Maxwell, a jazz musician, taking him to a barber shop in Brooklyn.

Malik Yoba

The barber shop was key in my research last night. It led me to the first episode of actor/musician/healer/father Malik Yoba’s new BET web TV show called Shop Talk: What’s on the Hearts of Men. It is set in Brooklyn.  The first webisode is entitled “Father and Son.” It features Malik and his seven year old Josiah. They visit a barbershop. Josiah asks the men in the barber shop what it means to be a man. Check out the four-minute webisode: http://shoptalk.bet.com/video/webisode-1-father-and-son.

Shawn Wallace

Here’s another thing to check out: author Ytasha Womack’s great blog post featuring an interview with Shawn Wallace, musician and producer of the upcoming documentary You’ll Be A Man , about what it means to be a Black man: http://postblackthebook.blogspot.com/2010/02/doc-youll-be-man-interview-with.html.  Click here to learn more about Wallace:  http://www.myspace.com/qimusicgroup.  Watch a short video (7 minutes) about Wallace’s You’ll Be A Man documentary: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=53896857. FYI – Womack’s new book is Post Black. Check her book out on Amazon.com.

Now after all that, I wanna know one thing.  What does it mean to be a Black man?

Please share your thoughts. They will deepen my book research.  Thanks in advance!

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the Black men in my life who demonstrate love, support, friendship, consistency, understanding, and responsibility,


PS: My dad John; grandfathers Robert and John; Uncles Bob, Robbie, and Samuel; brothers Mike, Mark, and Matt; cousins Tre, Finis, and Tony; and brothalove friends Fred (play father), Wayne, Jason, Ken, Henry, Andre, and Tim’m represent what it means to be a Black man to me.  They demonstrate love, support, friendship, consistency, understanding, responsibility, and so much more.

Marinating on what it means to be post-black as I research and write Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two

Hi All,

As many of you might know, I am writing my next novel Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two.  I am in the midst of a research and reading phase that has me on a bottomless pit search for all things interesting.  So far, my adventures have been online and offline.  My eyes have traveled through numerous magazines, books, Amazon.com book reviews, Twitter and Facebook conversations, YouTube videos, and web TV shows.  All kinds of good stuff is surfacing. It is really juicy!.  There’s no real order to my method too.  It’s a bit messy!  And that’s okay!  I am flowing with the FLOW!

I am fascinated … well to be honest infatuated with what it means to be post-black.  The seed of my infatuation was planted during a radio show discussion I had with one of my favorite authors Shayne Lee, a Tulane University professor, in November.

Our conversation was FABULOUS! I am so glad it was recorded because I am using it as research now.  Click here to listen to the show on Talkshoe.com:  http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/15820 (look for episode 10 that aired on November 9, 2009).

During our conversation, Shayne and I discussed why we both loved reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliers and its connection to my new book That Which Awakens Me and debut novel  Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (available on Amazon.com – http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq). Shayne gave a juicy review of Love’s Troubadours.  He called the book’s main character Karma Francois  a “post-soul woman.” Those three words led me to post-black.  They shifted my reality Translation:  Shayne’s three words set it off for me.  Hey that’s what the brotha does!  His analysis and books take you there.  I read Shayne’s book T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher last year and am looking forward to reading his new book Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace. I’ll be using Holy Mavericks as research for a character who is the son of an evangelical minister in my next novel.  Click here to learn more about Shayne:  http://tulane.edu/liberal-arts/sociology/lee-profile.cfm.

So after my reality shifted, I started examining Karma’s world through a post-black lens. The first stop on my post-black research journey was Thelma Golden, executive director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem.

While Golden worked at the Whitney Museum, she and artist Glenn Ligon coined the phrase “post-black art” in the late 1990s.   The phrase was explained in the Studio Museum’s 2001 catalogue for Freestyle, an exhibition of twenty-eight up and coming artists of African American backgrounds.

Golden wrote,

  • Post-black artists are “adamant about not being labeled ‘black’ artists, though their work was steeped, in fact deeply interested, in redefining complex notions of blackness.”
  • “They are both post-Basquiat and post-Biggie. They embrace the dichotomies of high and low, inside and outside, tradition and innovation, with a great ease and facility.”
  • “Post-black was the new black.”
  • Post-black is “both a hollow social construction and a reality with an indispensable history.”

What do you think of Golden’s post-black commentary?  I am still chewing on it!

FYI: I used Golden’s museum curator career as a template for Karma’s career in New York City.  Golden’s curatorial work and willingness to show women and people of color artists that might not have been shown anywhere greatly influenced my discussion of African diaspora art in Love’s Troubadours.  She introduced me to Kara Walker, Chris Ofili, and other artists mentioned in my novel.

Yesterday, I discovered author Ytasha Womack’s new book Post Black: How a New Generation Is Redefining African-American Identity (click here to read Womack’s blog and Twitter page).  That was a Happy Black History moment!  I ordered a copy of the book from Amazon.com today and will be attending Womack’s D.C. book reading on February 16 at Busboys and Poets’ 5th and K Street location (time – 6:30-8pm).  I am so excited!  Hopefully, Womack’s book reading will give me more food for thought as I explore the post-black world  I share with my main character Karma in Love’s Troubadours – Book One and main character Symon Allure in Love’s Troubadours – Book Two.

Any thoughts on what it means to be post-black?

Do you self-identify as post-black?

Do you have any post-black fiction or nonfiction recommendations?

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your day!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Gratitude, and Adventures in the land of post-black,