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5 mins read

Black Owned Luxury Hotel, Jnane Tamsna Hosting Writers Retreat in Morocco for Black Authors

Jnane Tamsna is the only Black woman-owned luxury hotel resort located in the lush date palm forest of Marrakech, Morocco.

In partnership with Parea Books, Jnane Tamsna is launching the Philoxenia retreats, an Immersive Literature & Writing Retreat for four esteemed authors in a series of generative creative writing workshops that explore themes of self-expansion, societal revolution, cultural presence, and embodiment.

Jnane Tamsna

The workshops ( January 6th to 11th 2023) will be complemented by cultural activities, including private tours of the city’s majestic medina and sojourns to secret gardens within the city’s walls.

This will be a space to discover, create, reflect, and develop relationships with people across borders, cultures, and backgrounds.


Cleyvis Natera

Cleyvis Natera is an essayist, short fiction writer, critic and novelist. Her debut novel Neruda on the Park was an anticipated book of 2022 by TIME, the Today Show, Good Morning America’s Zibby Owens, ELLE. Upon publication, Neruda on the Park was selected as a May 2022 New York Times Editor’s Choice.

Camille T. Dungy
Camille T. Dungy is an author, poet and scholar. Author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. Her debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black. Originally from Spring Valley, New York, he graduated from SUNY Albany and received his MFA from Syracuse University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from numerous publications, including the New York Times Book Review, Literary Hub, the Paris Review. He is the winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.
Tanaïs is the author of In Sensorium: Notes for My People, a finalist for the 2022 Kirkus Prize, and the critically acclaimed novel Bright Lines, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize. TANAÏS is based in New York City.


Meryanne Loum-Martin is the owner of Jnane Tamsna. We caught up with her to find out more about this exciting cultural experience.
Jnane Tamsna
Meryanne Loum-Martin

Why is this retreat important to you?

In a world where so many deserve to be seen but still are not, in a corporate space where to reach the same level, we are expected to stand out: we need our voice.

Curated by our mind, customized by our uniqueness, and enriched by our experience, our voice is our personal tool for change,  growth, and impact.

With our Philoxenia retreats, we want to learn from prominent storytellers and writers of color.

Jnane Tamsna is a space in which energy, style, and architecture have “ de facto” been a catalyst for transformative experiences. It favors a remarkable connection between people.

It is important for me to bring this efficient and educational tool to the immense construction site which is diversity, inclusion, and equity.

How can people support this event?

There are 3 ways:

  1. Individuals can book the retreat.
  2. Corporations can send employees. The unique bond of this shared experience will impact the conversation back in the office.
  3. Donations to The Global Diversity Foundation will pay for their airfare and a small stipend of up to 10 young writers. Most of them coming from HBCUs. Jnane Tamsna will offer them room and board.

Please contact for more information.


1 min read

5 Ways To Maximize Your Money with Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche is an award-winning teacher of financial education and is quickly becoming America’s favorite, personal financial educator.

The Budgetnista

In this interview, we discuss what business skills have helped her build multiple multi-million dollar businesses. We also discuss her new book, “Get Good with Money”, and what it means to be “financially whole.” Tiffany also shared the first five steps to achieving financial wholeness.


Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to our channel!

Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Is Black Buying Power a Myth or Reality?

Dr. Jared A. Ball is a father and husband. After that, he is a Professor of Communication Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.

In his book, The Myth and Propaganda of Black Buying Power, Dr.Ball proposes amongst other things that Black America does not have an annual $1+ trillion that is somehow being spent frivolously rather than harnessed to the betterment of the Black community.

The book also proposes that “buying power,” as a concept is “entirely misunderstood and has been for so long that it continues to confound and inhibit conversations about the Black economic condition and what might be done about it.”

black buying power

In this interview, we discuss:

1) The origin of the term and concept of “buying power”.

2) The definition of actual economic strength and how it is created.

3) Which comes first, economic power or political power.

4) Ideas on how the Black community can gain political power.

and more.

Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

The Racial Wealth Gap, Political Power vs Economic Power, and Reparations with Mehrsa Baradaran

Mehrsa Baradaran is the author of the best selling book, “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap”.

This book has become required reading for those who want to get a better understanding of how Black communities have been shut out of the banking system and how wealth creation in the Black community has been stagnated.

In this interview, we discuss the series of events that led to the racial wealth gap and how the gap can be closed.

We also discuss Black banks and their past and present role in creating Black wealth.

Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the channel!


Tony O. Lawson

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8 mins read

Why Octavia Butler’s Novels Are So Relevant Today

It’s campaign season in the US, and a charismatic dark horse is running with the slogan ‘make America great again’. According to his opponent, he’s a demagogue; a rabble-rouser; a hypocrite. When his supporters form mobs and burn people to death, he condemns their violence “in such mild language that his people are free to hear what they want to hear”.

He accuses, without grounds, whole groups of people of being rapists and drug dealers. How much of this rhetoric he actually believes and how much he spouts “just because he knows the value of dividing in order to conquer and to rule” is at once debatable, and increasingly beside the point, as he strives to return the country to a “simpler” bygone era that never actually existed.

octavia butler
Art by Makeba Rainey (@justkeebs)

You might think he sounds familiar – but the character in question is Texas Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, the fictional presidential candidate who storms to victory in a dystopian science-fiction novel titled Parable of the Talents. Written by Octavia E Butler, it was published in 1998, two decades before the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States.

Like much of her writing, Butler’s book was a warning about where the US and humanity in general might be heading. In some respects, we’ve beaten her to it: a sequel to 1993’s Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents is set in what is still the future, 2032. While its vision is extreme, there is plenty that feels within the bounds of possibility: resources are increasingly scarce, the planet is boiling, religious fundamentalism is rife, the middle classes live in walled-off enclaves. The novel’s protagonist, a black woman like the author herself, fears that Jarret’s authoritarianism will only worsen matters.
octavia butler

Fourteen years after her early death, Butler’s reputation is soaring. Her predictions about the direction that US politics would take, and the slogan that would help speed it there, are certainly uncanny. But that wasn’t all she foresaw. She challenged traditional gender identity, telling a story about a pregnant man in Bloodchild and envisaging shape-shifting, sex-changing characters in Wild Seed. Her interest in hybridity and the adaptation of the human race, which she explored in her Xenogenesis trilogy, anticipated non-fiction works by the likes of Yuval Noah Harari. Concerns about topics including climate change and the pharmaceutical industry resonate even more powerfully now than when she wove them into her work.

octavia butler

And of course, by virtue of her gender and ethnicity, she was striving to smash genre assumptions about writers – and readers – so ingrained that in 1987, her publisher still insisted on putting two white women on the jacket of her novel Dawn, whose main character is black. She also helped reshape fantasy and sci-fi, bringing to them naturalism as well as characters like herself. And when she won the prestigious MacArthur ‘genius’ grant in 1995, it was a first for any science-fiction writer.

Octavia Estelle Butler was born on 22 June 1947. Her father, a shoeshiner, died when she was very young, and she was raised by her mother, a maid, in Pasadena, California. As an only child, Butler began entertaining herself by telling stories when she was just four. Later, tall for her age and painfully shy, growing up in an era of segregation and conformity, that same storytelling urge became an escape route. She read, too, hungrily and in spite of her dyslexia. Her mother – who herself had been allowed only a scant few years of schooling – took her to get a library card, and would bring back cast-off books from the homes she cleaned.

An alternate future

Through fiction, Butler learnt to imagine an alternate future to the drab-seeming life that was envisioned for her: wife, mother, secretary. “I fantasised living impossible, but interesting lives – magical lives in which I could fly like Superman, communicate with animals, control people’s minds”, she wrote in 1999. She was 12 when she discovered science fiction, the genre that would draw her most powerfully as a writer. “It appealed to me more, even, than fantasy because it required more thought, more research into things that fascinated me,” she explained. Even as a young girl, those sources of fascination ranged from botany and palaeontology to astronomy. She wasn’t a particularly good student, she said, but she was “an avid one”.

After high school, Butler went on to graduate from Pasadena City College with an Associates of Arts degree in 1968. Throughout the 1970s, she honed her craft as a writer, finding, through a class with the Screen Writers’ Guild Open Door Program, a mentor in sci-fi veteran Harlan Ellison, and then selling her first story while attending the Clarion Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop. Supporting herself variously as a dishwasher, telemarketer and inspector at a crisp factory, she would wake at 2am to write. After five years of rejection slips, she sold her first novel, Patternmasterin 1975, and when it was published the following year, critics praised its well-built plot and refreshingly progressive heroine. It imagines a distant future in which humanity has evolved into three distinct genetic groups, the dominant one telepathic, and introduces themes of hierarchy and community that would come to define her work. It also spawned a series, with two more books, Mind of My Mind and Survivor, following before the decade’s end.

With the $1,750 advance that Survivor earnt her, Butler took a trip east to Maryland, the setting for a novel she wanted to write about a young black woman who travels back in time to the Deep South of 19th-Century America. Having lived her entire life on the West Coast, she travelled by cross-country bus, and it was during a three-hour wait at a bus station that she wrote the first and last chapters of what would become Kindred. It was published in 1979 and remains her best-known book.

The 1980s would bring a string of awards, including two Hugos, the science-fiction awards first established in 1953. They also saw the publication of her Xenogenesis trilogy, which was spurred by talk of ‘winnable nuclear war’ during the arms race, and probes the idea that humanity’s hierarchical nature is a fatal flaw.The books also respond to debates about human genetic engineering and captive breeding programs for endangered species.


Read the rest at BBC Culture

3 mins read

10 Toni Morrison Quotes That Show Why She Was A Literary Genius

Toni Morrison, the literary GIANT, who manipulated the English language to illustrate and punctuate our humanity as Black people, children of the Sun, has joined our ancestors.

She was a force to reckon with on this side, she will be indomitable in the other. Thank you for Sula, for Milkman, for Pecola, for Baby Suggs, for Beloved. May we never let your work be in vain. Walk in light.

Here are just a few of our favorite Toni Morrison quotes:

Toni Morrison Quotes

“If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

“Now he knew why he loved her so. Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly.”

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

Credit: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”

“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”

toni morrison quotes
Credit: The Guardian

“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”

“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.’”

toni morrison quotes
Credit: Glamour

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

“Perhaps that’s what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?”

“if you can only be tall because somebody’s on their knees, you have a serious problem.”

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Bettman/Corbis



-Tony O. Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)

3 mins read

11 Year Old Boy Lands Book Deal About Crocheting After His Creations Go Viral

In July, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based KWiL Publishing will publish Hello, Crochet Friends! Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy by a debut author: 11-year-old Jonah Larson. This is proof that while writing a viral article can lead to a book deal, but so can being the subject of one. That’s exactly what happened after a January 2019 La Crosse Tribune article about Larson’s crochet skills went viral, breaking traffic records at the newspaper’s website.

The article detailed how Larson, who was adopted from Ethiopia, taught himself to crochet at age five by watching YouTube videos, and now creates blankets, table runners and mittens which he sells as part of his business, Jonah’s Hands. According to National Public Radio, “Jonah regularly donates some of his goods and money to the Ethiopian orphanage from which he was adopted as an infant.” The young crochet enthusiast also maintains a popular Instagram account, which currently has over 119,000 followers, where he’s crocheted with Senator Tammy Baldwin, among others. Larson also has over 19,000 followers on YouTube. Response to the initial article led to media coverage on “Good Morning America” and other national outlets; the crochet wunderkind was so inundated with requests he had to turn down “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

The book, which will be co-authored by the crochet prodigy’s mother, Jennifer Larson, with photos by Erin Harris, will mark the debut of KWiL Publishing’s Rock Star Kids imprint, a “collection of picture book autobiographies that include extensive, engaging back matter and are authored by kids who are doing incredible things with their lives.”

According to KWiL Publishing Founder and President/Publisher Abby Nies Janowiec, the deal came about quickly after she heard about Jonah’s crocheting talents through social media. “I contacted Jonah’s mother, Jennifer, on Saturday, February 9th,” Janowiec said in an interview. “At that time, she had also been contacted by several much larger publishing houses. She accepted my offer to submit a book proposal, and by the following Tuesday we had signed an agreement to publish Hello, Crochet Friends! Jennifer shared with me her desire to work with a publisher in Wisconsin, and we had a very similar vision for the book.”

The book will cover everything from the act of crocheting to its impact on the broader community. The publisher’s website detailing the contents reads in part, “Jonah welcomes readers into his process, sharing everything from his preferred crocheting atmosphere―end of sofa, lights dimmed, close to his mom―to his favorite stitches and yarns. How can Jonah crochet so quickly? He writes, ‘It’s like breathing to me.’”


Source: Forbes

2 mins read

28 Black Owned Bookstores You Should Know

The number of Black owned bookstores has declined significantly since 1999. That year, there were reportedly more than 325. But, by 2012 had dropped to about 50.  In 2017, the number rose to about 70. We’d like to acknowledge some of the stores that are still going strong.

Black Owned Bookstores

Hakim’s Bookstore (Philadelphia, PA)

Everyone’s Place (Baltimore, MD)

Eso Won (Los Angeles, CA)

Mahogany Books (Washington, DC)

mahogany books

Sankofa (Washington, DC)

Pyramid Art, Books and Custom Framing (Little Rock, AR)

Dare Books (Longwood, FL)

Pyramid Books  (Boynton Beach, FL)

Nubian Bookstore ( Morrow, GA)

Source Booksellers (Detroit, MI)

source booksellers

Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe’ (Highland Park, MI)

Eyeseeme (University City, MO)


La Unique African American Books & Cultural Center(Camden, NJ)

The Community Book Center (New Orleans, LA)

Cafe con Libros (Brooklyn, NY)

cafe con libros
sisters uptown bookstore

Sisters Uptown Bookstore (New York, NY)

Grandma’s Place (Harlem, NY)

Black Art Plus (Columbus, OH)

Black and Nobel (Philadelphia, PA)

black and nobel

Uncle Bobbies Coffee & Books (Philadelphia, PA)

black owned bookstores
uncle bobbies

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse (Philadelphia, PA)

black owned bookstores
amalgam comics

Color Book Gallery (Philadelphia, PA)

The Pan African Connection (Dallas, TX)

The Dock Bookshop (Fort Worth, TX)

Black W0rld Books (Kileen, TX)

Harambee Books and Artworks (Alexandria, VA)


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4 mins read

“Vintage Black Glamour” Books Highlight Timeless Elegance

Using her ” Vintage Black Glamour ” books, Nichelle Gainer showcases a stunning collection of images from an era when folks would wear evening gowns and tuxedo’s  just to the grocery store.

Ok, maybe no one took things to that extreme, but the “Vintage Black Glamour” books are definitely filled with photographs and stories of women who epitomize Black glamour. Nichelle’s follow up book, “Vintage Black Glamour: Gentlemen’s Quarters” is filled with stories and photographs of their male counterparts.

Seeing as I appreciate most things dapper, classy and elegant, I had to speak with Nichelle about her books. This is what she had to say:

Dorothy Dandridge

SB: What inspired you to create these books?

I was doing research for a novel (that I still plan to finish) and found a lot of fascinating information and photos on legendary women like Lena Horne that I hadn’t come across before – and women who happened to be in my own family.

Two aunts on two different sides of my family who bookend the first book.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t have a set amount of time for research, I just do what I have to do and can do before the deadline. Deadlines are really great for finalizing research (haha). 

Aretha Franklin

What part of the book writing process is the most fun and which is the most challenging?

The part of the book process that is most fun varies – but usually, it’s finishing it! The most challenging (for the Vintage Black Glamour books) is usually fitting in all of the information I want to get across.

The supremes – 1965

What is one of the most interesting people or stories that you learned about while doing research for the books?

It’s hard to pinpoint one because there are so many. That’s the thing about our history, there is never just “one” – there are a lot who have been left out of history books and documentaries over the years. They’re all interesting to me. 

J. Rosamond Johnson. Bob and Bob Cole

What images were the most difficult to find?

The challenge is usually in finding the most unique image that hasn’t already been seen everywhere.

Maya Angelou

It’s not about being hard to find a certain image of a certain person, just the most interesting. Believe me, a lot of these photos have been “hiding” in plain sight in archives forever.

Lola Falana – 1973

Do you have any other books in the works?

Yes! I am working on another Vintage Black Glamour book with many of the women we couldn’t get into the first edition for one reason or another. It will include Grace Jones, Chaka Khan and more.

nat king cole

I will go later in the eighties to include Whitney Houston. It’s going to have a different vibe from the first book.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write and finish what you are writing. Even if you don’t feel like it. Then do it again. 

Author, Nichelle Gainer

Pick up your copies here!


@Tony O. Lawson

9 mins read

Luvvie Ajayi on her African Identity, Social Justice, Shopping Black & More!

Luvvie Ajayi started writing 13 years ago while in college. In 2006, she created her popular blog, Fast forward to 2016, she dropped her first book, “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual,” and it became #1 on the New York Best Seller list almost as fast as Beyoncé’s Lemonade topped the music charts.


She’s an award-winning writer, digital strategist, speaker, and leader of the Luvv Nation, her loyal following of hundreds of thousands of “play cousins” who come in all colors and include ninety-four-year-old Mother Dorethea.

Mother dorothea
Mother Dorothea

The “Wacky Wordsmith” and “Side-Eye Sorceress” is also a socially conscious woman who has strong opinions on everything from systematic racism to who makes better Jollof rice, Nigeria or Ghana. We won’t debate that here since we all know the answer is Nigeria.


Luvvie recently took some time to chat with us and was just as delightful as expected. Since her book is based on the premise of doing better, I asked who she feels should and could do better. “I feel everyone needs to do better,” she said. “That’s why I wrote the book for everyone, including myself. I could do better by being on time more often.”

Fun fact: Since our phone call got pushed back 20 minutes from its originally scheduled time, I silently agreed with her on that one.


From reading her blog and social media posts, you can tell that Luvvie is very honest and uses her authentic voice when she writes. I asked her what’s the best part about being vulnerable and putting herself out there.

Her response: “The best part is that I can always defend myself because I always say what I mean and mean what I say. The worst part is that someone will always disagree with my opinion. But, that’s just what comes with speaking your truth.”


Luvvie moved to the US from Nigeria when she was nine years old. At school, children of immigrant parents sometimes try to distance themselves from their culture in order to avoid being picked on. She has often mentioned that she mimicked her American classmates in an effort to lose her Nigerian accent.

11214723_10105310191625230_7622769560673845217_nI asked how and when she started to embrace her “Nigerian-ness”. She laughed and said that she wrote a whole chapter about this very topic in the book. She encouraged me to read it. (Oops. #Busted).

Luvvie did however explain that she started embracing Nigerian culture much more while attending college. “Seeing other African students unabashedly being themselves encouraged me to do the same.”

12919838_10106111270227290_2581282462670658908_nI wanted to get her opinion on a recent episode of my new favorite show, Atlanta. There was a scene when the character, Paper Boi, says: “I don’t trust Nigerians.” I asked Luvvie if she watched that episode and if so, what were her thoughts. She hasn’t seen the episode yet. Probably something to do with her touring the whole country doing bestselling book-related work.


I told her that the scene irked me because it reminded me that even though Nigerians are known for being highly educated go-getters, we still have a stigma of being scammers or dishonest in some way. She responded by saying the best solution is for us to just be our true selves. “People who know us will know the stereotype is not true because they have examples of Nigerians who aren’t like that.”


Over the past few years, we’ve seen too many incidents of police brutality. In response, there have been riots and calls for different types of protests, e.g. marches and boycotts. I asked how she feels she is doing her part to dismantle systematic racism and white supremacy. Luvvie went on to say, “I’m a writer. I’m the person who tells the stories and analyzes what’s happening. I’m using my voice and platform to change minds and calling for people to do something.”


Since we were on the topic of social injustice, I told her about a recent conversation I had with an older relative who lives in Nigeria. This relative’s response to one of the police shootings was along the lines of, “That’s what the police will do when they see your jeans falling off your bottom.” I asked Luvvie what she thought was the best way to communicate this particular subject matter with Africans who may not “get it” just yet.

cvlgzjavmaclorcShe stated that the way to address the issue is to just explain that Black people are getting killed by the police regardless of what they are wearing. “If they want to kill us, they will kill us. When a cop sees us, they aren’t like, ‘Oh, that’s an African. Let’s treat them differently from a Black American.’ We’re are all in the same fight.”

14358671_10157456394680405_4743425172741720158_nAt Shoppe Black, we’re all about supporting Black owned businesses. I’ve seen Luvvie rocking t-shirts, sweaters, and other gear that comes from Black companies. I asked her how important it is to her that we support Black owned businesses? “It’s really important,” she said.  “We need to build black wealth and part of how we do that is by supporting Black owned businesses and put dollars into Black people who are doing good work.”

awe-luv-tees-slideshowLuvvie likes to buy shirts from Black graphic designers and she partners with a Black t-shirt designer to carry her t-shirt line. “I think any way we can collaborate with those who are doing dope things is good. I think we should sometimes go out of our way to ensure that we are keeping the money in the Black community.”


When asked if she has any advice for other writers who want to take their craft to the next level, she said, “They just have to keep at it. Keep doing the work. Sometimes people think that you just have to show up and things will happen. No, you have to do it when it’s not paying you money. You have to do it because you love it. The love will keep you going even when it’s difficult and you are exhausted.”

“So, what’s next for Luvvie?”, I asked. “I think TV is next,” she said. “I’d like to see my book adapted to a TV show. I may also try my hand at TV writing. I’m open to see what drops at my feet.”

If Luvvie’s current success is any indicator, we know we’ll be seeing many more dope projects from her.

redpumplogotransLuvvie is the founder of The Red Pump Project, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual is now available for purchase here.


-Tony Lawson