By Christian Coleman | Remember when Janelle Monáe said Black women aren’t a monolith? Same goes for the Black diaspora, and yet the Grammys love plugging their ears and going La la la la laaaaa. This year, they did Black artists dirty yet again, snubbing them in the award for Album of the Year. Jay-Z is far from the first to call out their snubbery at the ceremony. They’ve also been called out for confining Black artist nominations in the rap/hip hop and R&B categories.
By Christian Coleman | Some are new, some are veteran crew. These are a handful of Beacon’s bestsellers of 2023! Let’s raise a glass of bubbly to the authors and to another year of bestsellers! Which ones were your favorites?
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 Julia Watts Belser | Ever since I began writing “Loving Our Own Bones,” I knew I wanted to craft a plain language version. The book brings disability culture into conversation with Jewish and Christian traditions, inviting readers to explore how disability insights can transform our politics and our spiritual lives. At its heart, it’s a book about challenging ableism—a book that calls us all to build a radically accessible world.
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.
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.
By Martin Luther King, Jr. | This, as you know, is what has traditionally been known in the Christian church as Palm Sunday. And ordinarily the preacher is expected to preach a sermon on the Lordship or the Kingship of Christ—the triumphal entry, or something that relates to this great event as Jesus entered Jerusalem, for it was after this that Jesus was crucified. And I remember, the other day, at about seven or eight days ago, standing on the Mount of Olives and looking across just a few feet and noticing that gate that still stands there in Jerusalem, and through which Christ passed into Jerusalem, into the old city.
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.
By Samira K. Mehta | I have never worn a “Meat Is Murder” t-shirt to Thanksgiving dinner. Clearly, I have thought about doing it, and while I would like to be able to claim that I have not done so because it would be rude or because I have deep-seated reservations about Morrissey, really, I have not done so because I have never been quite enough of a Smiths’ fan to have ever made the jump from buying CDs to buying t-shirts.
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.
This is not the time warp we want to do again. Or ever. The conservative-majority SCOTUS wants to take us on a detour back in time when folks who aren’t straight white cis men didn’t have rights. A time when we thought of the planet as nothing more than an ashtray. A time when . . . you get the idea. Overturning Roe v Wade was the lowest of blows. Gutting the Clean Air Act stripped power from the EPA to curb greenhouse gas emissions. What’s next?
It’s flying graduation caps season! We’re not post-pandemic, but graduates are embarking on a world stage that looks different from what it was two or three years ago. Some of those differences are alarming.
A Q&A with Eboo Patel | Always remember: the goal is not a more ferocious revolution; the goal is a more beautiful social order. Those of us in advocacy have signed up to be the architects of a better society, not just tell other people what they are doing wrong. We need to defeat the things we do not love by building the things we do. What does a better school look like? What does a working grocery store in a food desert look like?
Still kicking two years in, COVID brought out the worst from the nation’s populace: racist brutality against marginalized communities. This year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemorates the victims of the 2021 spa shootings as well as all other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lost to anti-Asian violence during the pandemic and throughout history. This violence is a form of erasure. As historian Catherine Ceniza Choy writes in her forthcoming addition to Beacon Press’s ReVisioning History series, “This positioning of Asians in opposition to American identity and experience is perhaps most powerfully expressed through the erasure of their long-standing presence in the United States and their contributions to its various industries.”
A Q&A with C. Pierce Salguero | I had been teaching Introduction to Buddhism courses for over a decade to both college students and the general public and felt that there was a real need for a better introductory book. I couldn’t find a text for my students that provided an objective introduction to the various forms of Buddhism without being overly scholastic.
By Amy Caldwell | As we entered our second year of the pandemic, early in the spring of 2021, I was reviewing the changes and additions the monastics of the Plum Village Center for Engaged Buddhism had made for our revised and expanded edition of Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic collection of meditations, “The Blooming of a Lotus.” Upon hearing of Thay’s death last Friday, my mind returned to my reading and that time.
By Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma | Twenty-two years ago, when I first lived in Madurai in the state of Tamil Nadu, I went to visit the home of a student at the college where I was teaching. Meenakshi Sundram lived on a narrow lane not far from the Meenakshi Temple in this venerable and beautiful South Indian city. His home was only a few rooms, but they filled with family, friends, and neighbors, all eager to greet the teacher from abroad who could somehow speak a little Tamil.
By Sumbul Ali-Karamali | In this age of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion movements, twenty years after the tragedy of 9/11, why is it still acceptable to denigrate Muslims and what they believe without any knowledge of what they believe? Why are Muslims judged on the basis of stereotypes and not on facts? And why are we as Americans so reflexively quick to believe the worst of Muslims, given half an opportunity to do so?
This year’s theme for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service. Beacon Press views their writers as leaders, charting the way to a better future with uncovered histories, cultural commentary, and more. Which is why, as AAPI Heritage Month wraps up, we’re putting the spotlight on the work of our Asian American writers. The following list of recommended reads—by no means exhaustive—honors their work and contributions to our society and American history at large.
By Marilyn Sewell | At last, it’s over! I mean the last four years of suffering from an abusive relationship—with our former president. Why am I not alive with energy, ready to get back to my writing? Wanting to Zoom with friends? Pushing ever harder with my climate activism? I find that I’m simply exhausted, needing to recover.