I wrote some things for other people. Sometimes they were fun, sometimes they were blah, other times they haunted me, and occasionally they surprised me.
The Twin Cities Daily Planet
For Keno Evol, Tupac – and by extension, hip hop – was his first gateway into art as activism. It was through hip-hop that a young Evol heard Tupac rhyme about the complexities of Black life in America and his hopes for community as a Black man. In his intros and outros, Tupac held conversation and Evol listened
Photographer Patience Zalanga uses her lens to spark conversation around ethics in media—August 3, 2017
Zalanga appreciates that an editor or journalist might like her images because they are aesthetically pleasing, but the larger question when granting permission is, “how are you using this photo and how is it going to create needed conversations?” The process of deciding a media group’s or blogger’s intent can be taxing for a Black photographer such as herself, particularly if she is unfamiliar with them.
Artist Chamindika Wanduragala takes on motherhood and race through puppets — December 1, 2016
House 60B candidate Ilhan Omar challenges notions of what politicians can be — January 13, 2016
Rafiki is Kenya’s first film to be invited to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival — it also happens to be banned for distribution, exhibition or broadcast in Kenya.
Over the course of three days, a High Court in Nairobi, Kenya heard a groundbreaking challenge to the colonial-era laws that target LGBT Kenyans. This case, the first of its kind in Kenya.
Paving the Way for Gay Rights in Kenya: One Nonprofit’s Story—September 27, 2017
In a country that remains culturally homophobic, and that criminalizes same-sex intimacy with up to 14 years in prison, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is an anomaly — and not just because of the rainbow flag that hangs proudly from their balcony.
9 Tips for Coming Out to Your African Family—February 1st, 2017
Law, Labels, and Justice: A Look Into Cape Town's Triangle Project and South Africa's Gay Community—October 25, 2016
"Just because people are part of the same discriminated and oppressed group doesn’t mean they’re not prejudiced, bigoted, racist or sexist. The people with money and social capital do not want to be politically involved because you already have your freedom, everything actually works for you. But if you are not empowered in that way, then the law is on paper, but not necessarily real."
Writer Lesley Nneka Arimah Captures Our Extraordinary Existences as Daughters of Africa—October 14, 2016
Her work...resists the erasure of African women’s voices from the literary landscape and celebrates the stories they have to tell. Stories of our very ordinary and extraordinary existences as the daughters of Africa.
Beyoncé’s “Formation” Is Two Middle Fingers to the Sky in Celebration of Black America — February 7, 2016
This is the genius of “Formation.” It is not just a suggestive wink, it is two middle fingers (literally) to the sky in celebration of Black America delivered with temerity, all while wearing a Givenchy dress. It is the collective exhaling of a black community. It is the dreams of black boys and girls across America narrated into performance. Queen Bey manifests the consciousness and vernacular of a young generation of black folks who have it all, except the one thing they want the most: to live.
She Asked If She Still Made Me Nervous — September 22, 2014
Janese Talton-Jackson's Murder Reminds Me That Entitlement Kills — January 29, 2016
Somewhere in our past, each of us as women ceased to be a girl without our acquiescence, becoming moving prey whose bodies carried in them the longings of others. We are taught explicitly and through experience how to maneuver this jungle we now find ourselves in. But no amount of preparation can ever ready us for the day that we, like Janese Talton-Jackson, say “no” to the right person and end up with the wrong response because we dared to lay claim to our bodies.
Crossing Over: How I Joined the BeyHive — May 26, 2016
One Often-Overlooked Need for Gun Control: Ending Domestic Abuse — January 7, 2016
Critical Conditions: For Trans Individuals, Seeking Medical Care Can Be A Minefield — August 11, 2015
Trans identity not only resists the status quo but exposes a well-documented and accepted truth within many non-Western societies: A person’s gender, sex, and biological composition are not inherently linked. Our organs do not define us...Even more radical is the challenge that being male or female does not mean being a man or a woman; it is instead simply an expression of how we feel.
Five Mujeres Critique the Guerilla Girls and Mainstream Feminism — April 29, 2016
Interventions is a critique of the feminist agenda told through the lens of indigenous women of color who find their roots in Latin America and are impacted not only by sexism and patriarchy but also issues of colonization and assimilation. The project arose out of a desire to move dialogue beyond creating spaces for cis, white, abled women, and instead spaces for all women.
Can We Envision Communities Beyond Place, Beyond Ownership? — November 23, 2015
Likewise, as artists, the impact of our work — whether creating art for the public, documenting histories, or creating future spaces for the interrogation of our shared stories — could be dramatically scaled up by harnessing the benefits of multi-local power.
Writing in Place — June 8, 2015
It's not about where you are, but what inspires you to write, to create. We come here seeking the muses that are all around us. We come here to recall how to listen, and to deny ourselves the escape of diversion in favor of committing ourselves to the making of something from it, for a time.
The Black Expat
The Language of Travel — July 19, 2017
"The first few times I heard ‘Mrembo! Mrembo!’ directed at me on the busy streets of Nairobi, I held back the smile building on my face, depositing the compliment into a deep pocket to be admired later. If there’s one thing many women learn quickly, it is not to engage strange men, even when they call you beautiful in a language your ears love.
Your Guide To The Black Foodie—March 7, 2017
"What it means to be a Black Foodie is someone who's more interested in more than what's on their plate, where it came from and who made it."
Acts of Possession: M.anifest—October 4, 2016
Developing Little Africa — September 6, 2016
Using creative placemaking to imagine these cultural hubs, the Little Africa initiative is one of the first creative placemaking initiatives in the U.S. geared specifically towards Africans.
Do African Lives Matter? — March 22, 2016
The image of the continent is one bookmarked by dusty children, rampant poverty, wild untameable animals, and distended and diseased bodies who need food and medicine...The credence given to the complexity of issues facing black America is not awarded to the very real and deeply complex issues facing Africans as a result of colonialism and its modern child, Western imperialism. Africa is to be saved, not understood.
The Meaning of Passport Privilege — January 31, 2016
For me, it is a series of reminders not to dream too large. It is the understanding that my body, which has eagerly consumed snippets of the world in words and images, may never find itself physically in those dreamed about places.
Things Have Changed, But They Haven't— November 3, 2016
That our births should be so private and our deaths so public is the cruel reality of being Black in America.
Catching My Breath— November 1, 2016
Meet Bo Thao-Urabe — March 2016
Bo Thao-Urabe’s entry into the world was unremarkable, much like most of our entries. There was a great deal of crying on her end, met with the elated relief of a mother whose child had arrived healthy. But a set of circumstances beyond her and her family’s control would mark Bo’s birth and childhood as rather exceptional.
My Queer Kenyan Homecoming—Sep 30, 2016 (Republished on Huffington Post)
I came home a queer, willing to fragment myself in order to exist here. Instead I found that home wanted to heal me, not break me.
My Vow To Love Black Men As I Never Had Before—June 29, 2016
Love can heal, but it can also maim the able, blind the seeing, and break the unbroken. And politics, while personal, must learn where to breathe, so that you don’t confuse love with politics. Or the political for the personal.
My love was political sophistry refined.
Hold your breath, dance slowly: Lee Kit at the Walker Art Center (Page 2) — Summer 2016
Material Mythologies: Minnesota Museum of American Art — Spring 2016
If you can understand that feeling, that grappling with something terrifying, yet undeniably real, then you too would understand what it feels like to stand in front of Clark’s Triangle Trade and stare at the great expanse of lives spent in the pursuit of capitalistic endeavors.
Misfits: Reflections on Identity, Race, and Prejudice — April 7, 2015
We were once brave, even prideful souls, eagerly separating ourselves from the Kenyan soils — he the sandy aridness, I the red hills — to find ourselves defined as less because of who and what we appeared to be. Even more disconcerting than this discovery was the slow reveal. The taking of our agency was implied, left for us to figure out on our own. It was deceitful, this new world.
Africa Is A Country
It Is Time: The need to rethink homosexuality in Kenya and Africa — July 30, 2015
There are many like me: educated, brilliant, creative, innovative minds with much to give and receive in a pluralistic society that is willing to see us as more than a sum of sexual acts. Instead, we find ourselves stifled by a culture that seems hinged on maintaining some of the worst parts of the colonial experience: oppression through religion, division through tribalism, and heavy handed political games in which innocent citizens pay the price.
Walking the Tightrope: Poetry and Prose by LGBTQ Writers from Africa
Paperback anthology featuring "works by writers from different parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, including first and second generation Africans in the diaspora." Available for sale on Amazon.
How One 'Cookist' is Inspiring Nairobi's Food Scene— September 2017
I want the world to know about this place—Issue 9, July 2017
“Things have changed but they haven’t.”
We were talking of poverty and racism in that quietly understood way that Black folks can. Underneath Sylvester’s words sat the tale of 14-year-old Emmett Till, the Black Chicago teen who arrived to visit his cousins in Money, Mississippi one hot summer and never returned. His mutilated body would be discovered in the Tallahatchie River not far from where Sylvester and I now stood.