Confession: I am an intense book blerd.
Because of that, I love reading any and everything I can get my hands on. However, as an avid reader, I've noticed a lack of diversity in the books I come across and the characters that lead them. It's made me notice that as a whole, the publishing industry could use a little more color.
That's not to say that there aren't phenomenal writers of colors out there, because there are, but there is still more work to be done and ground to be covered. Prime example – two years ago, I interned at a literary agency in New York City. And it was there that I learned, on average, the black community only buys about two books a year. Compared to the 10 books the average white person buys, these jarring statistics systematically lead to the black community being underserved in the publishing world. What's even more interesting perhaps is the fact that says the demographic most likely to buy a book is the college educated black woman.
I can't help but think that there's a connection between not feeling like books are made with us in mind and us buying books. And that's where the issue lies.
In my quest for dope reads, I stumbled across four businesses that seek to prioritize POC representation in literature by bringing attention to books written by us and with us in mind. They are killing the game and redefining what it means to be mainstream reads. My reading list and I personally owe them a huge thank you, hopefully this article will do.
Well-Read Black Girl
Well-Read Black Girl started out as a personal blog and transformed into an empire of sorts. It is blog and brand dedicated to the phenomenal black women on our bookshelves – past, present, and the novel reads not yet born. What makes Well Read Black Girl stand out is their commitment to black women in literature. In giving a voice and platform to these readers, authors, and books, Well-Read Black Girl has created a niche audience and given them something never seen before in the book industry – women they can see themselves in consistently. Each month, members meet up to discuss plot twists and favorite characters over brunch. I'm so here for it.
Ebony LaDelle is the CEO and founder of Coloring Books™, a newsletter and Instagram page featuring authors of color and books with diverse casts. It's safe to say that Coloring Books ™ is here to put a little more color into your inbox and hopefully your reading list. Ebony had this to say about creating the platform:
"I started Coloring Books out of frustration. I had been in publishing for a few years, and unlike my experience at Howard University, where I was able to market books from some of the greatest black storytellers of our time, past and present, I had a bit of a culture shock coming into a predominantly white industry that didn't know how to reach minority consumers. On the flip side, I heard countless times from people of color that had a hard time finding authentic and native storytelling for them or their little one. And that's how Coloring Books was born, to sort of be a hub where people can go to find books of color, and publishers could go to reach consumers."
Noir Reads is a subscription box service featuring black authors that includes a reading guide and access to an online book forum. What I love so much about Noir Reads is that it allows black readers to connect with each other. While reading books by black authors is a treat, it is even better when you can talk about it with your fellow brothas and sistas. Noir Reads allows for conversation surrounding black literature to be normalized, which is the first step to black literature being highly regarded and canonized.
We Need Diverse Books
"Imagine a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book."
We Need Diverse Books is committed not only to finding more people of color in the pages of books, but also to finding more people of color employed in the publishing industry - particularly in the realm of children's lit. They serve as a blog and resource for many offering book recs, awards, scholarships, and events saluting diverse authors. What makes them stand out from the rest is that they embody intersectional experiences, and vouch for every minority's representation. Until all people are equal, none of us are. Seeing that in the books we read is more important than ever, and We Need Diverse Books knows that.
Is there anything at the top of your reading list this year? Let us know in the comments below.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood