A Q&A with Alicia Kennedy | My awareness of all the ways in which eating meat intersects with systems and outcomes that I don’t agree with unfolded gradually. It was a very instinctual, spiritual conviction that made giving up meat feel both enticing (at first) and necessary (at last), and then the more cerebral reasons for why I was drawn to it came into focus.
By Jess Zimmerman | The first thing you saw when entering the Dangerous Beauty exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a vintage dress from Versace’s 1992–1993 “Miss S&M” collection. Straps of quilted leather crisscrossed the throat and décolletage of a headless mannequin, each strap adorned with a dollar-sized brassy coin bearing the head of a howling Gorgon, a play on Versace’s usual logo of a placid Medusa face. The overall effect was oddly militaristic, a sort of four-star dominatrix look.
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 Naomi McDougall Jones | Because filmmaking is hard—for anyone, even in the best circumstances—I am well aware that there are still skeptics about whether there is discrimination against women in Hollywood at all. Thus far, I’ve built the case, I hope, for what is happening. But if you work long enough and hard enough at it, you could suggest reasons why discrimination wasn’t at the heart of each anecdote and career story I’ve provided. Let’s zoom out, then, to look at the wide shot of what is happening to women and their careers in Hollywood. Let’s look at the data.
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!
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 Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma | One of the most famous verses in the Kural is about the art of learning. What the poet Tiruvalluvar said in Tamil more than fifteen centuries ago is as relevant now as ever: 391: Faultlessly study what is to be studied—then fit All that you’ve studied I’ve always been struck by how Tiruvalluvar not only urges us to learn fully, leaving out nothing, but also inspires us to bring our lives and our studies into harmony.
By Priyanka Ray | In 2021, Beacon expanded our poetry program, adding both new and established poets to sit alongside the classic masters—including James Baldwin, Mary Oliver, and Sonia Sanchez—who have long been an essential part of our catalog. The series, Raised Voices, serves the overarching goals of raising marginalized voices and perspectives, publishing poems that affirm progressive values and are accessible to a wide readership, and celebrating poetry’s ability to access truth in a way no other form can.
By Sonia Sanchez | Dear Martin, Great God, what a morning, Martin! The sun is rolling in from faraway places. I watch it reaching out, circling these bare trees like some reverent lover, I have been standing still listening to the morning, and I hear your voice crouched near hills, rising from the mountain tops, breaking the circle of dawn. You would have been 54 today.
By Ricky Tucker | This portion of my July 26, 2020, interview with preeminent trans advocate, model, and icon Gia Love was pure joy for me on a lazy Sunday afternoon. She is a joy to be around, and accordingly, in the aftermath of a summer stricken with the murders of Black, trans, and Black trans people (which we discussed), I wanted to ask her about how she finds and leans into joy during these cruel times as a thinking and socially engaged person sitting at the intersection of those identities. Luckily, the concept of trans joy is central to her ethos, pathos, and logos. She also cast a spotlight on some of the limits of the not-for-profit industrial complex when servicing Black women of trans experience. Enjoy.
By Gabel Strickland | The proud subversiveness of a pirate’s lifestyle often makes them a heroic figure for the marginalized. For the politically, socially, and economically oppressed, pirates are a vessel (get it?) through which to see their own liberation, representation, and revolt against the powers that be. At sea, the enslaved can be free, the disenfranchised can vote, people can even create new identities—and legends—around themselves.
By Naomi McDougall Jones | For female directors fortunate enough to be working, they can expect the average production budget for their film to be smaller than those of their male peers. Film budgets shrink by 20 percent when a woman has the starring role due to untrue but enduring industry “common knowledge” that “no one wants to see films about women.” Since female directors are more likely to either choose or be given films with female leading characters, they disproportionately suffer from these smaller budgets that are assigned to such films.
By Remica Bingham-Risher | For a long time, I was making a list in my head of the writers who changed me, the ones I had to meet. I started planning too late and missed James Baldwin, who died when I was six. I hadn't yet been gobsmacked by his short story “Sonny’s Blues” then, but read my way through his whole milieu my freshman year of college. I met Toni Morrison (thank goodness) but didn’t get to ask her questions, flanked as she was by other booklovers. Who I regret missing the most is August Wilson, as lines from “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” and “Jitney” still wake me up some nights.
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.
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.
A Q&A with Alexandra Lytton Regalado | For a long time, it was either the camera or the pen. If I managed to express myself visually, there was no need to describe it in writing. But now, I use both processes to dig deeper, although I haven’t been able to combine the two just yet; each medium still stands on its own. I carry around my obsessions, my questions, and when something nips at my attention, I spend a lot of time trying to unravel what it is about that image that has me hooked.
By Meghan Privitello and Abbey Clements | When a child hears gunshots, she will say Mom is beating the pots and pans. She will say It sounds like home. Let’s keep it this way; our children misinterpreting the sound of dying as a crude percussion.
By James Baldwin | I first saw “The Exorcist,” in Hollywood, with a black friend of mine, who had his own, somewhat complex reasons for insisting that I see it: just so, one of my brothers had one day walked me into the film “The Devils,” which he had already seen, saying, cheerfully, as we walked out, “Ain’t that some shit? I just wanted you to see how sick these people are!” Both my friend and my brother had a point. I had already read “The Devils”; now, I forced myself to read “The Exorcist”—a difficult matter, since it is not written; then, I saw the film again, alone. I tried to be absolutely open to it, suspending judgment as totally as I could.
By Helene Atwan | Gayl Jones, the highly acclaimed author who was first “discovered" and mentored by Toni Morrison has twice disappeared from our sight. The first time was after a stellar launch as one of America’s most daring and distinctive literary lights, after two brilliant novels (“Corregidora” and “Eva’s Man”) brought out by Morrison at Random House, and one slim but oh-so-astonishing story collection (“White Rat”), when she went into a self-imposed exile in France, from the late 1970s until the late 1990s. She and her husband had rejected the racism that surrounded them, and Gayl had made the decision to leave her job in academia and her very promising career as a writer, as well as her friends and supporters in the literary community, and live in Europe.
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.