Thursday, March 15, 2018

14th Annual National Black Writers Conference - March 22 - 25!

Calling all my writers, readers, and lovers of black literature!  

The 14th Annual National Black Writers Conference will be presented on Thursday, March 22 through Sunday, March 25, 2018 at The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY,1650 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11225. Dozens of writers, scholars, and other literary professionals will be in attendance at this one-of-a-kind 4-day literary conference, participating in panel discussions, roundtables, workshops, author readings,film screenings, a poetry cafe, and more! The 2018 conference theme is Gathering at the Waters: Healing, Legacy and Activism in Black Literature. As noted in the press materials, "This timely theme acknowledges our concern about the recent, and continuing, issues of social inequality and injustices that challenge us and builds on the legacy of healing through activism." This year's Honorary Co-Chair is Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams, and the 2018 NBWC Honorees are Steven Barnes, Kwame Dawes, Tananarive Due, David Levering Lewis, Eugene B. Redmond, Susan L. Taylor, and Colson Whitehead. This exciting annual event is a "must-attend" for writers of all genres--come and share in the joy of literary expression!
For more information and to register, click on the link:

Visit NBWC on Facebook at:
National Black Writers Conference


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Take the Mic: Spoken Word" Saturday, March 17 at Plainfield's Dream House Theater

This Saturday, March 17, from 7:00 - 9:00 PM, Dream House Theater will host "Take the Mic: Spoken Word" at the Parish Hall Theater, 724 Park Avenue. All poets, singers, rap artists, and other spoken word aficionados and practitioners are invited to come out and share their gifts. For more information, call Dream House Theater at (908) 219-7745. With a stated mission focused on "Empowering our community through theater," Dream House Theater provides a space for the arts in Plainfield. Come out and support the arts in our community! Click on the link to visit the website:


Friday, March 2, 2018

2018 Adele DeLeeuw Scholarship Deadline: Wednesday, March 7!

2018 Adele DeLeeuw Scholarship applications--ranging from $1,000 - $5,000--are being accepted until Wednesday, March 7. Graduating high school students in the Plainfield area are welcome to apply, as well as previous DeLeeuw Scholarship recipients. Read the flier below!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Read Across America on Friday, March 2!

I have always been a bookworm. My voracious reading habits were instilled in me as a child, growing up in Jamaica, Queens, with daily browsing through my elementary and middle school libraries in conjunction with making weekly expeditions to my local Queensborough Public Library. I always read biographies—Harriet Tubman, Annie Oakley, Francis Marion, Frederick Douglass, Samuel F.B. Morse, Alexander Graham Bell. I also read any series of books involved in mystery, especially Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. I also read Classics Illustrated comics—which provided great versions of classic novels. Among my favorite books back then were (are), in no particular order: To Kill A Mockingbird,  Frankenstein, The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou, The County of Monte Cristo, Daddy was a Number Runner, Robinson Crusoe, and Oliver Twist.

Friday, March 2 is Read Across America Day, celebrated in honor of Dr. Seuss and devoted to demonstrating the importance of reading to young people. I will be reading to students at Queen City Academy tomorrow afternoon. I would encourage everyone to read to take some time tomorrow to read aloud to the young people in your sphere—even if only for 15-30 minutes—it really makes a difference!



Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year...Reclaiming My Time!

Welcome to the new year! As one who keeps busy, with legislative work as well as a full-time teaching job, it is important to balance one's time in a way that helps one to remain effective and happy. This year, I am working to achieve greater balance as I look forward to new opportunities!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Young, Black, and Suicidal: A Cause for Alarm

The son of a classmate of a close friend of mine committed suicide recently. What awful feelings of hopelessness and despair must have filled his waking thoughts until he made his terrible, fateful decision to end his pain. I talk about suicidal children in my 19th century black literature classes--two texts that I teach are Frederick Douglass's Narrative and Harriet E. Wilson's autobiographical novel, Our Nig respectively (see links below for the complete texts). In each, we see the despair and the traumatizing effects and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that our ancestors bore, even as young children.

For Douglass, the devastating realization that his young, black life was doomed to enslavement made him contemplate suicide at the age of twelve: "I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed." 

Similarly, fourteen year-old Frado, the free Northern black indentured servant (a fictionalized version of Wilson) has suicidal thoughts, which are overheard by James, the sympathetic son of her white mistress: "'Oh! oh!' I heard, 'why was I made? why can't I die? Oh, what have I to live for? No one cares for me only to get my work. And I feel sick; who cares for that? Work as long as I can stand, and then fall down and lay there till I can get up. No mother, father, brother or sister to care for me, and then it is, You lazy nigger, lazy nigger—all because I am black! Oh, if I could die!'" 

These two protagonists do not kill themselves, but they speak to the depth of psychological pain experienced by children who live without hope. In the past several years, the statistics for black children who attempt and/or commit suicide are rising. I was reading an article on black children and suicide that was published a couple of days ago (November 14, 2017) in The Root-the entire story is below--just click on the link.  

A 2016 article in CNN quotes a study in JAMA Pediatrics, noting : " youth may experience disproportionate exposure to violence or traumatic stressors, both of which have been associated with suicidal behavior. Also, research has shown that black youth are less likely to receive services for depression, suicidal ideation, and other mental health problems compared with non-black youth"--click here to read the entire CNN article. The article also notes that the highest youth suicide rates are among Native American youth.

Monday, September 25, 2017


It's that time again! The Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation will once again host two Halloween events: Doggy Howl and Trunk or Treat! The Doggy Howl will take place at 12 Noon on Saturday, October 28, 2017. Trunk or Treat (limited to children ages 12 and under) will take place on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 from 6:00 PM until the candy runs out. Both events will be held in the parking lot behind Plainfield City Hall at 515 Watchung Avenue. The Trunk or Treat Costume Parade will start at 6:30 PM, and awards will be given for "Best Family Costume" and for "Best Trunk." Contact the Recreation Division at (908) 753-3097 for an application to enter the Trunk or Treat competition, or just print out the application below. No application is necessary for the Doggy Howl, but please make sure that your pet is leashed. This is a great event--there are prizes for "Best Small Dog," "Best Large Dog," and "Best Dressed Duo"--you and your dog! Please bring some pet food for donation to the Plainfield Area Humane Society! These annual events are a lot of fun--I look forward to seeing you there!