Color Talk on Radio Times

SFDC CoverOn Monday I had the pleasure of appearing on one of my favorite NPR shows, Radio Times. Recorded in Philadelphia, but broadcast to the world, Radio Times is a great call-in show that covers topics of local, national and international interest. I was so impressed by the host’s deep, probing questions and obvious interest in colorism, parenting and international skin color politics. It was clear she really read Same Family, Different Colors and didn’t depend on producers to give her all of the questions.

If you missed the show, no worries. You can still listen on the WHYY website or download the show and listen as a podcast. Either way, enjoy!

The New York Times Gives SFDC A Great Review!

My book made it to The New York Times

My book made it to The New York Times

Yesterday The New York Times posted their online review of Same Family, Different Colors. The reviewer, Stanford professor, Allyson Hobbs, called the book “urgent and and honest.” She then went on to give it an amazingly positive review. I am thrilled to say the least. I am especially thrilled because Ms. Hobbs is the author of the book A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life and obviously understands all of the nuance and history of skin color discrimination in this country. If you read my blog, My American Meltingpot, then you know I gave Professor Hobbs a shout out when her book debuted.

Same Family, Different Colors is my fourth book, but it’s the first book of mine that’s ever been reviewed by The New York Times. For a writer, this feels like winning gold. At least for me it does. My greatest hope is that this review simply brings more people to my book and more people to the table for a conversation about color.

Peace + Pretty Colors

Same Family, Different Colors Debuts Today

It's Pub Day!

It’s Pub Day!

Today is the official launch day of my new book, Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families (Beacon)! *Yay* Technically, it’s been a lifetime in the making, since the book was conceived right about the time my first son was born and we instantly became a family of many colors.

So far there have been some really positive early reviews of the book and I already did my first podcast with the amazing Mixie author and activist, Heidi Durrow on The Mixed Experience. You can listen to that show here.

Like every author who puts a new book out into the world, I want everyone to love my little book, but more importantly, I want this book to be the catalyst for change as we confront the disease known as colorism. I want this book to be the starting point for some very necessary conversations across cultures and between generations. In order for that to happen, of course, people have to read the book. So, I will be working hard to get the word out about Same Family, Different Colors.

I already have the T-shirts. And now I’ll be trying to set up visits and appearances across the country to get the dialogue started. So far my travel itinerary includes visits to Brooklyn, Chicago and Philadelphia. If you want me to visit your city, please drop me a note through this website or contact my publicist, Caitlin Meyer at Beacon Press. (CMeyer@Beacon.org)

Peace + Pretty Colors.

Stop the Presses: My New Newsletter

Hi Everybody,

Like every great writer who has too much to say, I’ve officially (re)launched a newsletter. Because I’m so good at coming up with catchy titles, I call my newsletter, “From the Desk of Lori L. Tharps.” Catchy right? Maybe not, but I do plan on sending these out semi-regularly and not only when I’m trying to promote a new book, which I admit, I am doing right now. So, if you want to check it out, before you commit to subscribing, click on this link, see how it looks and then if you’re so inclined, subscribe. The good news is, it’s just as easy to unsubscribe.

Thanks for reading. And feel free to share.

Peace!

Same Family, Different Colors Gets a Cover and a Pub Date!

Here's my new baby! I love my new baby, SFDC. I hope you do too.

Here’s my new baby!

Mark your calendars! Beacon Press will release Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families on October 4, 2016. I. Am. So. Excited! Yes, this will be my fourth book, but it still feels like a miracle. Like giving birth, the emotions involved with giving life to a book that started as a simple idea in your mind cannot be described with simple words. (And I’m a writer, so that’s saying a lot.) Not only has writing always been my passion, but the issues that this book explores – race, identity, diverse cultures and family life – are the things I care most about in the world. So, you can imagine my excitement. Or maybe you can’t, but trust, I am crazy excited about this book getting out into the world. I hope it receives a warm reception.

If you’re one of my 46 most devoted followers and you want to get your hands on a copy of SFDC as soon as possible, you can already pre-order the book. And you can tell your friends about it too. Thanks! And keep checking in for updates on the book’s progress and some exciting events that I’m planning closer to pub date.

I’m so excited…

Happy Birthday, “Substitute Me!”

SUBSTITUTE ME My first novel turns five today. As a journalist turned novelist, this book has been the hardest for me to promote because I could never read it without seeing the flaws. But five years later, I picked it up, read it all the way through and actually enjoyed it. It’s a damn good read. Not perfect by any means, but a good story nonetheless. I am proud of the book and myself.

This was me five years ago at the Substitute Me book party in New York City.

This was me five years ago at the Substitute Me book party in New York City.

So, in honor of my book’s birthday, I made a book trailer in her honor. For some reason, I cannot get it to paste into this page, so here’s a link for you to go watch the trailer. Feel free to let me know what you think. And also, feel free to buy the book.

My Byline Makes it to the Washington Post!

sistersThere’s a new book just out called The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America by Tamara Winfrey Harris. As the title it implies, it is a book that explores the relentless demonization of Black women in America, from past to present. I was thrilled that the Washington Post asked me to review the book for them. What a treat. If you want to see what I thought of the book, feel free to read the review here.

My New Gig as Parenting Blogger on Newsworks.org

That's me! Do I look like a parenting blogger in this picture?

That’s me! Do I look like a parenting blogger in this picture?

I’ve always defined myself as a writer and a mother. I don’t often write about being mother but almost everything I write about is somehow inspired by my children. So, it seems pretty appropriate that I am now penning a monthly column for the local Philadelphia NPR affiliate about parenting and family life. By no means does this imply that I am a parenting expert, simply that I like to write and share my thoughts about the parenting journey.

My first post went up last week and I wrote about encouraging kids to read over the summer. Up next, will be an essay on raising Black children who feel proud of their heritage in the wake of all of the negative news surrounding Black Americans. Please feel free to check out the new Philly Parenting Blog on Newsworks.org, which by the way, includes several other Philadelphia based bloggers besides me. Thanks as always for the support.

Living in the Lower Case Just Got Personal: A Birthday Wish For Me and You

Today is my birthday. I am over age 40. I own my home, have three healthy children and a job I absolutely love. In a nutshell, I don’t need any presents this year, but still there’s something I want more than anything in this world. And that is respect. I am still waiting for the mainstream media, specifically publishers of printed materials, including magazine, newspaper and book publishers to agree to capitalize the B when referring to Black people in the United States. I have written blog posts and opinion pieces about this lack of respect for Black Americans. I have appeared on a radio show and started a campaign on Change.org. So, today I’m taking my cause a step further.

As of today, February 10, 2015,  I am demoting myself to the lowercase. I will no longer use the uppercase when signing my name. Until the New York Times and the Associated Press changes their policy to capitalize the B in Black, I will be known as lori l. tharps. I will not go on a hunger strike, nor will I march in the streets (yet), mainly because I have to protest in a way that I know I can continue to fight until the battle has been won. As a mother, an educator and a writer, I feel my protests are most effective on the page.

I begin this journey of living my life in the lowercase, hopeful that it will be over in weeks not years. I am adamant that I will not be moved until my people have been granted the respect of the uppercase. (Ironically a respect that was granted to us when we were Negroes and Colored.) I have a new book coming out in 2016 and I hope I will be able to see my name on the front cover in the uppercase and that every signature I sign will also be written with capital letters. I am a writer. I know words matter. Labels matter. Black life matters. And it should matter in the uppercase.

Thank you,

lori l tharps

Capital B Campaign and Another Op-Ed in The New York Times

Years ago, over on my original MyAmericanMeltingpot blog, I wrote about how much it bothered me that when writing about Black people, “Black” was always changed to the lowercase. Working in the publishing industry, this has always been an issue between myself and the copy editors. I’d always turn in my stories with Black being written with a capital B and invariably they’d send it back to me, “corrected.” At first I’d try to argue my case, that Black referred to a culture not a color, but to no avail. Rules were rules and they were sticking by the one that said black is always written with a lowercase b.

Well fast forward to 2014. Today I made a much stronger argument – I believe – for the uppercase in the New York Times (who by the way, still uses a lowercase b). I submitted an Op-Ed piece and it was accepted. It will officially appear in the Wednesday edition of the newspaper and I believe it has already been posted online. This is only the beginning of my Capital B campaign. Stay tuned.

My Byline in the New York Times

I think it’s safe to say that it is every journalist’s dream to one day see their byline in The New York Times. Well that dream came true for me on April 30, 2014. The New York Times asked my Hair Story co-author, Ayana Byrd and I to pen an op-ed about the Army’s new grooming policy that restricts and prohibits several Black hairstyles. So we did. And not only did it appear both online and in the print edition, it was one of top-ten most shared stories of the day. Needless to say, I bought a couple of extra copies of the paper and have a cutout for my scrapbook. I’m old school that way. But I have to admit the illustration looked amazing in the online version.

Did you hear about the Army’s new grooming policy? Do have an opinion about it? Secretary Hagel promised to revisit the issue after so much outcry, so stay tuned.

New Book Deal!

I am so excited to announce that I have just signed a contract with Beacon Press to publish my next book. It’s going to be a non-fiction book that examines the role of colorism in American families. I’ll be sharing some of my own experiences in the pages of the book, but it’s not going to be a memoir. It’s more of a journey to see where we are as a country made up of a lot of different cultures, who care a whole lot about color. One of my working titles for the book is Melanin-Nation. What do you think? Stay tuned for updates. And follow my #colormatters hashtag on Twitter. Thanks!

Hair Story All Over the World

If you would have told me 15 years ago, that Black hair was going to take me this far, I never would have believed it. But with the re-release of my first book, Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, I am having the chance to talk with people all over the world about the history and politics of Black hair. It’s truly been an amazing experience. My co-author, Ayana Byrd and I are doing quite a bit of traveling around to promote Hair Story. If you’d like to see us live and in person, please check out our Tour schedule on the HairStoryOnline blog. Thanks as always for your support.

Happy Holidays!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014. I’m not making any official resolutions but I’m excited about getting to work on my next book, which begins as soon as the New Year is officially done being celebrated and the kids are back in school.

In case you were wondering, the next book is non-fiction and will examine the role color bias or colorism plays in American culture. Stay tuned for more details. I’m so excited about this project and even more excited that I have the honor and privilege of getting to share my work with you. I love being a writer! I love it. I love it. I love it.

Happy Happy Joy Joy! Bring on 2014!

Kinky Gazpacho: The Movie

I don’t let myself fantasize too much about the possibility of Kinky Gazpacho actually becoming a major motion picture, but it might actually happen. The wheels of progress keep turning – and no I have nothing to do with the process– so I shouldn’t be too pessimistic. But we all know Hollywood isn’t kind to movies with Black female leads where the lead isn’t a maid, a prostitute or a slave. Oh, or Olivia Pope!

If it does happen – and my fingers are crossed – you can butter my butt and call me a biscuit. And I’ll be the one sitting in the front row at the premier. Stay tuned! And if you want to read more about the Kinky Gazpacho movie, check out the updates on my blog, MyAmericanMeltingpot.

Fall into the Book

It’s my favorite time of the year. Fall. Back to school. Back to classes. And for me, back to writing the book I’ve been trying to write for the last two years! I just finished the manuscript for the updated version of Hair Story and now I have to complete the proposal for my new book, which is all about colorism. Did you know colorism isn’t even officially a word? So, that kind of tells you how much work has to be done. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned to this page for updates about my latest projects and passions.

A New Year Brings New Responsibilities

It’s 2017. Usually the new year makes me feel excited about new beginnings, but alas, given our current political climate, I have to say the dawn of this new day has me shaking in fear. Still, I will continue to write and create and share my thoughts because that is what writers do. As a matter of fact, this writer is going to be using her words to resist and fight back in a number of ways in 2017. To begin, I will be participating in National #WritersResist day on January 15, 2017.

#WritersResist all over the world and in Philly too!

#WritersResist all over the world and in Philly too!

A nationwide event, here’s what’s going down: “On January 15, 2017, writers across the United States and in Europe will come together in the spirit of compassion, equality, free speech, and the fundamental ideals of democracy for Writers Resist: Louder Together for Free Expression, a major literary protest to defend and protect free expression at a time when it’s dangerously under threat.”

I will be participating in the Writers Resist Philadelphia Event at the National Museum of American Jewish History. The event is free and open to the public, so if you’re in the area, please stop by. For more information, check out the Facebook page.

Then, one day later, on Monday, January 16, I’ll be hopping on a train and heading north to participate in a MLK Day event in White Plains, New York. I will be giving a Same Family, Different Colors talk and book signing as part of the MLK Day Bookfair. A percentage of all purchases made that day will go to support the Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Nonviolence and its Freedom Library. For more information about the signing, please visit the White Plains Barnes and Noble website.

That’s what I have going on right now, but please check back frequently for updates on my schedule.

And may your 2017 be filled with activism and good writing!

Peace!

It’s the Final Countdown…SFDC Debuts in Less Than 3 Weeks!

Coming soon to a bookstore near you!

Coming soon to a bookstore near you!

It feels like just yesterday that I conceived the idea for this book and now Same Family, Different Colors is about to be born. Sorry for all of the childbirth metaphors, but seriously that’s how it feels. My baby is about to come into the world. And. I’m. Not. Ready. October 4, is less than three weeks away.

There’s a launch party to plan, newsletters to craft, friends to beg to write Amazon reviews. Sheesh. Birthing a book might actually be harder than birthing a baby. At least in the latter case, the body knows what to do and come hell or high water, that baby will exit the body. With a book’s birth, even though I’ve published three other books, the bar is always being raised and it seems there’s more and more an author has to do to get the world ready to receive her work. Thankfully, there are some people out there – like Kirkus Reviews and these nice people on goodreads – who got to sneak a peek at Same Family, Different Colors before the official debut and they gave it very positive reviews. My hope is that the warm feedback continues to flow because I have a revolution I’m trying to start here. This book is just the beginning of the end of colorism.

So, world, be warned. I’m coming at you with Same Family, Different Colors. I hope you’ll be kind.