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 Remica Bingham-Risher | I actually never contemplated writing a book of nonfiction. When I started interviewing Black poets I admired, I did imagine that one day, I’d compile all those interviews. But those would be testaments to the things they were doing in the craft; it wouldn’t have much to do with me. So, it’s interesting that, over time, all the things they taught me kind of melded into this hybrid text, but I couldn’t have imagined it for myself. I’m very grateful.
It has not gotten any easier for educators. If the pandemic was not enough, many are picking up the slack for unfilled job openings, riding on the fumes of burnout, and consequently, leaving the profession or retiring early since the start of COVID. Which goes to show how much they are unthanked and undervalued for all they do to nurture wisdom, curiosity, and critical thinking in students at a time when societal consensus at large would rather shepherd us toward an uneducated nation. We need to show up for them!