By Christian Coleman | When loved ones perch at the table together for holiday gatherings, it’s not just the star protein with fixings that gets served. Whether it’s on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other occasion for feel-good feasting in big company, those mashed potatoes and greens come with a side of divergent viewpoints on touchy, real-life subjects. Sometimes they’re served respectfully, sometimes with vitriol, but on many occasions, they stir up tough conversations, and the meals become so ideologically fraught that digestion seems out of the question.
By Christian Coleman | So much has happened for Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” in the ten years since it was originally published. It won the American Book Award. It made the New York Times Best Sellers list in 2021. Filmmaker Raoul Peck used it as source material for his HBO docuseries “Exterminate All the Brutes.” The young adult version adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese came out in 2019. Since then, the YA adaptation has earned the honor of becoming a banned book in Texas.
By Christian Coleman | When Latinx workers across the US came together for International Workers’ Day on May 1, 2006, their strike sent more than one message. As historian Paul Ortiz writes in An African American and Latinx History of the United States, they protested immigration restrictions that threatened their families, their livelihoods, and their dignity. The protested to pass national legislation for a living wage. Shutting down meat packing, garment manufacturing, port transportation, trucking and food services in many parts of the country was an act of resistance to neoliberalism, mass incarceration, militarism, and imperialism. Latinx workers from numerous cultures were all in.
By Christian Coleman | It’s back-to-school season, and the US is still upset by its own sense of identity. James Baldwin knew all about it. In his “Talk to Teachers,” he said that if we changed the curriculum in all schools so that Black students learned more about themselves and their real contributions to US culture, we’d not only be liberating Black people; we’d be “liberating white people who know nothing about their own history.” The side-eye for FL, TX, and other states is warranted and righteous, because they’re still hell-bent on suppressing Black history or completely whitewashing it.
By Christian Coleman | Come on, Barbie! Let’s go party . . . in your library! You’re about to become Bookworm Barbie and read the days and nights away. Don’t worry about Ken. He’ll be fine because he’s just Ken. Now that you’re in your self-discovery era, you’ll have lots of questions. Like why you’re in a blockbuster summer movie and how the film industry works. We got you. And everything you want to know about empowerment for women and girls, beauty (and health) standards, life in plastic in the real world, the patriarchy, and all the badassery in women’s history is in these books from our catalog. Each sold separately!
Our New England summer is off to an overcast, monsoony start, but that’s not going to stop us from vibing with our seasonal reads and binges. Here’s what our staff has been enjoying.
By Christian Coleman | We took the crushing news pretty hard. The TV adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s “Kindred” didn’t get a fair chance when it was cancelled nearly a month and half after all eight episodes were uploaded in December 2022 to stream on Hulu. With the blessing of Butler’s estate, playwright and showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins made bold choices—some of which might make Butler purists gasp—to modernize and expand upon Butler’s classic while staying true to her message.
By Christian Coleman | Ah, Florida! The hottest tourist getaway where you can refine your tan, stoke your adrenaline on Disney World rides, and soak up state-sanctioned prejudice and ignorance under the sun. Joining fellow civil rights groups League of United Latin American Citizens and Equality Florida, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for the Sunshine State to warn tourists about the laws and policies that are “openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals.” If Stefon from SNL were in charge of promoting DeSantisLand—gawd forbid!—he’d say this hot spot has everything.
Vibe check. Or should we say mind check? Although May 11 was declared the end of the COVID-19 health emergency, we can’t move on like the pandemic didn’t happen. Lockdown overturned the societal rock to expose many issues, including mental health. And isolation wasn’t the only thing that went at the psyche nationwide. What happens in our surroundings—housing, neighborhoods and cities, the R word—is just as important to track as what goes on in the mind. Which is why we’re recommending this handful of titles from our catalog for Mental Health Awareness Month.
A Q&A with Annelise Orleck | It felt right, and urgent, to return to the story of “Storming Caesars Palace” in these times, precisely because this political moment feels both so different and so similar to the time when the book was first published in 2005. Back then, our country was still living in the shadow of 9/11 and the militarist backlash that followed.
A Q&A with Catherine Tung | This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time! Editors all have bucket lists of books they want to publish, and near the top of my list has been a book that introduces the rich world of kink to a general audience without sensationalizing, othering, or distorting the material. When I arrived at Beacon three years ago, my senior colleagues encouraged me to brainstorm ideas for new lists that I could develop. I started with the idea of a kink book, and the idea of a sexuality list flowed naturally from there.
Whip out that #OscarsSoMale hashtag. This year, the Academy snubbed such filmmakers as Gina Prince-Bythewood, Maria Schrader, Sarah Polley, and Charlotte Wells as Best Director nominees. In “The Wrong Kind of Women,” Naomi McDougall Jones writes that this snubbery—read: discrimination—owes itself to “the film industry’s fetishization of the male ‘genius’ auteur filmmaker.” Must the patriarchy be so basic? At least Sarah Polley took home a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award for her film “Women Talking.”
By Gayatri Patnaik and Christian Coleman | In her compelling Boston Globe article “Celebrating Black History Month as Black History Is Being Erased,” Renée Graham writes that Black History Month this year has a specific purpose and burden, “and that burden is not for Black people to bear alone.” The challenge, Graham notes, “is to save this crucial American history from being eroded book by book, law by law, and state by state.” We couldn’t agree more.
The Sunshine Pearl-Clutching Brigade is back on their BS and doubling down. Under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida banned a new AP African American Studies course under the pretense that it’s “indoctrination” that “runs afoul of [their] standards.” This is almost a year after the Florida legislature banned the teaching of “the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory” with the Stop WOKE Act. It’s giving unwoke on numerous levels.
A Q&A with Gayle Wald | It’s fantastic to see Tharpe getting all kinds of recognition, especially from young people and artists like Lizzo. I should also say that there are musicians and people in the gospel world who always cherished her, so the world is catching up with them.
It confirms what we’ve known for the past two years—and then some. The January 6 committee’s report shows that our former despotic Cheeto in chief incited a mob with false allegations of voter fraud to storm the US Capitol and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Talk about moving the goal post of being the sorest loser. In the most violent way possible, too. Available to the public, the testimony and findings stacked against him are steep—over 800 pages worth.
All right. 2022 has been cute—in a We-Lumbered-Through-Yet-Another-Plague-Year kind of way—but now it’s giving shabby and dogged. That’s right. Time to sashay away and to do so with some grace and dignity. But before then, we need to give it up for our authors and staff who blessed Beacon Broadside with their words and insight.
By Christian Coleman | Have you ever watched a Beacon book before? Grab your popcorn and your favorite seat for binge viewing because a handful of them have or will be taking to the screen as narrative films, documentaries, and TV miniseries! Here are five adaptations to cue up on your streaming accounts.
A Q&A with Aaron Caycedo-Kimura | My manuscript was originally named “What’s Kept Alive,” after one of the poems in the second section. This poem compares the keeping of a Japanese maple shrub alive to keeping my family’s history alive. The title captured the overall essence of the manuscript but lacked a certain punch. My amazing editor, Catherine Tung, suggested “Common Grace”—the title of one of the poems in the third section.
Talk about an affront to human life. In a bait-and-switch tactic to push the Right’s anti-immigrant message, FL Governor Ron DeSantis paid to send 50 migrants like cattle on an airplane from San Antonio, TX, to Martha’s Vineyard, MA. The migrants were told they’d land in Boston, where they could get expedited work papers. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of people across Puerto Rico are waiting for water and power to be restored after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power lines and collapsed infrastructure with massive flooding. A rough way for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month to start.