Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Those Bones Are Not My Child: A Novel by Toni Cade Bambara
Daughter : A Novel by asha bandele
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai
The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir by Staceyann Chin
Unbought and Unbossed by Shirley Chisholm
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow
The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998 by Nikki Giovanni
All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Wench: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
The Street: A Novel by Ann Petry
Darkest Child: A Novel by Delores Phillips
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone by Nina Simone
White Teeth: A Novel by Zadie Smith
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Click here for the complete list + brief book descriptions. Also, check the comment section for more recommended works.
She would’ve been 80 today. Celebrate her life.
Nina Simone Live (1961-1962) <- includes rare performances
Nina Simone - The Great Show (Live in Paris, 1968) <- audio only
Nina Simone Live at Olympia (1969) <- low audio
Just gonna leave this right here.
Nina Simone (via humanformat)
I can’t seem to find out when exactly she said this and all the sources are tracing back to the BBC obituary, but I’m guessing this was said much later in her career. The context of this quote goes along with her annoyance with the comparison to Billie Holiday. And anyone who knows Holiday and Simone’s music will find that comparison to not only be extremely ridiculous but also an example of a racial view of defining black musicians, something Simone is talking about in this quote.
I remember during her early years, she said “all that is to me is jazz.” And well, jazz to a lot of black musicians was not just music but a way of life; their way of life as black people. I could source quotes about jazz and blackness in the U.S. from hundreds of black musicians and compare that to the few white musicians denying blackness in jazz music. But I’m guessing Simone sees it differently this time around.
Whiteness always takes something away from black people though, a large idea which music journalist Greg Tate talks about. This culture of jazz has been poisoned and it erases black people just the way hip-hop does because of the narrow views of blackness. It reminds me of the Santigold interview where people called her music “hip-hop.” She lashes out and talks about how ridiculous it is that of all things, they’d label her as hip-hop just because she’s black. It also reminds me of Scott Joplin known primarily for composing ragtimes on the piano. He thought of his music as serious works of art, comparing it to European traditions and in the same sense Simone saw her own music…Joplin treated his music as Black classical music. But a lot of his music at the time were considered a joke and to his disappointment from the audience, not taken seriously at all because of racism.
The most frustrating people are the ones who imply everyone should just shut up and “wait and see” or “leave them alone.” That kind of attitude and oppression is not in the spirit of Nina Simone whatsoever. Quite the opposite. Nina was vocal, defiant, a warrior, an activist. She would not have simply shut up and sat down. She would’ve shown up at the studio with a shotgun to speak with Ms. Mort and slapped the makeup off Zoe [Saldana]. So let’s get that straight first. We’re going to talk about this and those of us with strong, impassioned opinions are going to express them.
The script, written by Latin American writer and first time director Cynthia Mort, is based in a series of lies. That is our starting point. Cynthia calls this her “artistic license.” Under that umbrella what Cynthia is implying is that she can pretty much do whatever the hell she wants and she doesn’t have to listen to anyone. Cynthia has focused her story on Nina’s relationship with her personal assistant, Clifton Henderson, himself a controversial person in Nina’s life. Well before Nina’s death, before talks about a movie, there were issues expressed about Clifton’s intentions regarding Nina and his efforts to seemingly keep her isolated. He was around Nina for the last few years of her life. He can be seen with her in a filming of Nina’s concert in Brazil in 2000, during shots of Nina being interviewed in a boat.
After Nina’s death, Clifton sold his story to Cynthia and that became the basis for the movie. So, a (controversial) personal assistant’s relationship with Nina Simone for the very last few years of her life somehow became the focal point of the first ever Nina Simone movie. Moreover, that controversial relationship became fictionalized by Cynthia Mort by her writing the relationship as a romantic one (putting Nina in the role as sexual aggressor and as emotionally needy).
As has been stated before but is worth repeating: Clifton Henderson was a gay man. He was an out gay man. I met him at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem during Nina’s memorial service. He was neither a heterosexual male nor a man that Nina Simone had any kind of romantic relationship with. This might be a forgivable “fiction” for Cynthia to slip in if not for how many other fictions and whitewashings are built around this tale.
It is also the first instance of Cynthia’s script exploiting a marginalized identity by essentially putting “straightface” on an out gay man. This is rather curious since Mort herself is a lesbian and you’d wonder how she’d feel being rewritten as a heterosexual woman under the guise of someone else’s “artistic license.” Would Cynthia Mort be pleased with someone rewriting her own history to the point where her sexuality becomes a trivialized inconvenience? I guess someone would have to ask her that. I won’t bother.
The story of the movie is said to use this lie of a relationship as a focal point whereby they flash back to other moments in Nina’s life including other relationships and some of Nina’s music career. We don’t know much else than that. We know (or assume) there will be some mention of Nina’s civil activism, and her “rise and fall.” Tight-lipped as any filmmaker is, there’s not much else we can know. However, based on all the clues available we can know this with certainty: the first film about Nina Simone is leaving out anything about Nina Simone that made her oh so very Nina Simone.
Cynthia Mort is not a black woman. That is a very crucial point here. I am a white man. I know that as a white man I do not have the authority to speak of the black experience because it is not my experience. I cannot and will not “speak” for black people or assume to know the intricacies of racism, as experienced by black people. The privilege and arrogance it takes to do so is disturbing and downright disgusting.
In other words, we know that Nina Simone is being left out of this project because it’s being fictionalized by someone with good intentions who might think she identifies with the subject, but who cannot align herself with the experience because she didn’t and doesn’t live the experience. For her to not acknowledge this fact is proof that she does not and literally cannot understand the criticism and outcry coming from so many people regarding this farce of a film. She has laid claim to the story of Nina Simone’s identity while disregarding the very people Nina spent her lifetime trying to reach, speak to, and impassion.
- Aaron Overfield
Read the entire letter here
Anonymous asked: what do you think of the new nina simone/zoe saldana pictures and decision to cast her in the film? do you feel the fact that the director chose not to recognize actresses who more naturally resemble nina is disrespectful? just curious
Everybody involved with this film needs to be drop kicked, from Zoe and the casting director to the screenwriter and the makeup artist. It’s wrong!
I thought with all the uproar from the public the director would’ve changed her mind about picking Zoe, but noooo. I think they forgot that we’re the ones that they want to see this f’d up “biopic.” (I put biopic in quotes because the a large portion of the story is actually fictional. Read here).
The only person I would love to see portray Ms. Simone is Adepero Oduye. However, we need to work on getting Ms. Simone’s real story first.
� Ms. Nina Simone, everybody
� Nina Simone on racism
� Nina Simone
”Zoe is an incredible actress–I think that she’s a fine actress. I think that there should be some work done, like a prosthetic nose would be helpful and definitely some darker makeup. If Forest Whittaker can become darker in “The Last King of Scotland” then I believe Nina should be treated with that respect. She was very adamant about her color about her nose about her shape and her self and there needs to be some homage paid to that.”
When asked what famous person she would love to play in a film, she said singer Phyllis Hyman because…
“… there’s a lot of depth there. Phyllis was tormented and beautiful and violent at times. She was fighting her way through the industry and it wasn’t necessarily working out. You have this character who loves something so tremendously, but hates it at the same time. I find her really interesting.”
Nowadays, I get so irritated anytime I hear ANYONE sing it.
…Damn you Jennifer Hudson and those bitch ass Weight Watchers commercials
From the article:
What started off as a fair display of disapproval for a film’s casting, quickly dissolved into a barrage of hateful and hurtful comments, directed at the subject of the film and the star, at the time only rumored to be attached.
There was talk about who should have been cast instead of Saldana; there was debate about whether Saldana was too pretty to play Simone, who some foolhardily labeled as unattractive.
Inevitably, and perhaps with good reason, there was concern that the role of music legend Simone was to be played by an actress of a hue different than her own. At this point in the conversation, They still had me. I was still listening, and still learning how people were feeling about the issue.
“She’s too light-skinned to be taken seriously as Nina Simone,” declared many who objected to the casting. “And besides— she’s a Latina. She’s stealing jobs from real black actresses.”
And that’s where they lost me.
I can maybe understand some of the concern expressed; most especially from those who have only identified Saldana as Latina and believe that to be the sole way she self-identifies. But for those who have viewed or read interviews wherein Saldana has self-identified as both black and Latina, I’m having difficulty understanding the lingering confusion and suspicion.
Race and ethnicity— it’s understandable that some may mistake one for the other. But we all need to have a better understanding of the difference between race and ethnicity, and how it’s absolutely possible (and normal) for Saldana to be both a black woman and a Latina. Also, we need to understand why her ethnicity should not be the determining factor in arguing against Saldana being cast in the planned Nina Simone biopic.
The word “ethnic” refers to a member of a minority group who retains the customs, language, or social views of the group. In Saldana’s case, she has self-identified culturally as a Spanish-speaking Latina, from the region of the Americas known as Latin America. (Not everyone in Latin America speaks Spanish, by the way.)
The word “race” is defined as a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits. In most regions of the world, this would apply to skin color, hair texture, and facial features. Saldana’s race is black. If you think hard enough about it, I’m sure you would be able to name a few people, who you consider black, who look just like her.
And I say all of that, to say this: It’s perfectly understandable for there to be some opposition to the casting of Zoe Saldana in the role of Nina Simone, but not because she’s Latina. I think the belief that Saldana is stealing jobs from “real” black actresses is an ignorant one; but one that can be easily remedied with a little bit of education.
So there you have it. Zoe Saldana— a self-identifying black Latina actress. And she’s not the only one, either.