Brooke Obie Is A Writing Ass Chick We Love » VSB

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Brooke Obie Is A Writing Ass Chick We Love

After a not-really-all-that-brief-at-all hiatus, The Writing Ass Chick We Love series returns with the homie Brooke Obie.

We’ve known each other since we worked together at EBONY.com, and I’ve read and admired your work in the past. But, in preparing for this feature, I visited your personal site (brookeobie.com) for the first time, and read your bio, and holy fucking shit! Why are you writing novels and not like, I don’t know, running for President or starting a colony on Mars? Do you introduce yourself to people by saying “Hi, I’m Brooke, and my bio will kick your bio’s ass?” Because I totally would if I were you. 

Ha! Well, I will, now, thank you! My Twitter feed would disqualify me from the presidency; I don’t have Trump’s rich White maleness as a shield. I also have zero patience for politics, especially after this election year. This “lesser of two evils” scenario gives me less hope that any sort of revolutionary and lasting change can happen through the political process. That’s why I write fiction! I can upend entire systems with words. But that colony on Mars is not a bad idea…I told my 11-year-old nephew that I’d write a book for him to star in where Black people escape to another planet and are safe from racist/sexist/queerphobic harm. Like ‘Black World’ on In Living Color, or something.

Shit, can we join him? I mean, I’ll miss quite a bit about Earth — particularly the NBA League Pass and the bacon-wrapped bacon strips I made this morning — but the idea of an actual Black Planet is sounding better and better now. 

I’m saying! So, I’m working on that, too, but I’m coming off of a 15-stop international tour for BOOK OF ADDIS, and people are already asking for the second and third books in the series so I’m writing these next two books first. In BOOK OF ADDIS, Addis is a 17-year-old magical Black girl who kills her enslaver, the first president of the country, and starts a revolution. It’s all about revolution for oppressed people; it’s a way for me to reimagine American history at the foundation of the country so this trash year 2016 we’re living in right now never comes to be.

book-of-addis

The book sounds very Hunger Game/Divergent-ey. Which is unfortunately apropos today. I’ve never read either of those books, but I’ve seen the movies — I’ve seen Divergent at least five times because that’s what was shown every single night on this Royal Caribbean cruise I went on three years ago — and consumed them as allegorical dystopian fantasy. But after Darth Cheeto’s victory, they feel like predictions; guidebooks for how to survive in what may be the nearer-than-we-want-to-believe future. You wrote Book of Addis before all of this, though. What was the impetus behind this?

A part of the reason I wrote this was because of the hype around The Hunger Games books. It annoyed me that the deepest fear of a White-centered dystopia was that the things they’ve done to Black people would be done to them. I wanted to write this world history lesson to remind people that the dystopia for Africa’s descendants, brown people and Indigenous folks the world over has been white enslavement and colonization of the globe–the impact of which we’re all still feeling today. I also wanted Black Americans to be able to have a revolution in the way that these white characters get to have them–not just a physical freedom, but a mental one, as well. Addis journey includes the stripping away of anti-Blackness that she’s been socialized with. I hope the readers go on that journey too and can learn to embrace and be excited about the power and poetry and the inherently revolutionary nature of writing in Black vernacular. I hope readers unfamiliar with texts in Black vernacular will see the rejection of Standard English as empowering, as validating, and as a sign of Black brilliance and resilience. I hope they notice that every time the words black or dark are used, they signify beauty or safety for the enslaved people who long for night to shield them as they escape. I hope when readers see the Black people Addis meets in a free village in the North, they’ll note the village includes genderqueer people, femme leaders and warriors, egalitarian rule, and unconditional respect for each other’s humanity. The revolution for all Black lives starts in the mind and manifests in the physical, so I hope this book that contains so much true history mixed in with fiction can help people understand that nobody gets free unless we’re all free.

(Book of Addis can be found on Amazon, and is available in print and Kindle. Also, Brooke created a whole #BookofAddisSyllabus — comprised of work from the last 400 years to help us get through the next four.)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • PhlyyPhree

    ” the dystopia for Africa’s descendants, brown people and Indigenous folks the world over has been white enslavement and colonization of the globe–the impact of which we’re all still feeling today.”

    And that’s about all I need to know to know that I’m ordering ths book.

  • BatmansExWife

    Yea, I got stuck on your bio.

    For good reasons of course

    Then, I decided to look at your blog. And your last blog, posted in November is about guarding your heart. And I love it because I have a tattoo that exemplifies that for me. Based off that, I have to read your book.

  • Love this. Thanks, Damon- looking up her work right now.

  • Mary Burrell

    Interesting have to check it out.

  • I_AmU

    “I hope readers unfamiliar with texts in Black vernacular will see the rejection of Standard English as empowering, as validating, and as a sign of Black brilliance and resilience.”

    Whenever Resilients use any form of the word resilience to describe who we are my heart becomes even fuller. I fantasize about this world she’s created in terms of how we view ourselves and the negativity associated with words/things of darker pigmentation. I already know I’m going to enjoy reading her books.

  • KeyBrad

    Bought.

  • IAmMikeBrown

    I’m feeling more and more like kaka-poo-poo every day for not going to an HBCU. So much excellence! I’m gonna order this book.

    • BatmansExWife

      I was so against going to one growing up smh

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        I hated being at one while I was there. Only years after the fact do I appreciate it now.

  • ?? KortAlmighty??

    Dat bio tho. She’s basically everything i wanna be when I grow up, J.D. & a Master’s. Eyy I got a new role model! I’m even thinking of buying the paperback version of Cradled Embers. That’s a big deal for me cuz I only do ebooks, but I’m tryna support #AllBlackEverythang this year.

  • Ms.Moon

    Growing up in the West Indies I have had a very different experience of blackness than African Americans, my family is from Trinidad and the Prime Minister, President, representatives etc. are either of African or East Indian descent mostly. It’s really different being black where most everybody is black and I did not realize this until we migrated here. White folks lived in different parts of the island than us plain working folks and since we really don’t do tourism in Trinidad except for Carnival it’s so different we don’t really have the feeling of “how you are seen by white folks” over us. There was no “Black Excellence” there was just excellence for us because there was no longer a presence of the colonial master living with us. Independence gave us just that independence we were all people of color living our lives in our own country as well as we could not every island in the West Indies had it as good as we did look at Haiti today.

    Trinidad has oil and natural gas so as a country we really didn’t have to rely on white folks coming to us as tourists to provide us with a living and it really was a privilege for me to grow up there the time I did. The crime rate was low (unlike now where America’s drug addiction has made it very difficult for us regular folks because South America is very close and drugs move through the country to come to the United States). I applaud African Americans in their struggle to accomplish more in the wake of oppression that has hindered progress and it seems that it wants to come back again, I don’t know if I have the mettle to do it I have to go through this fire with everyone else and hope that I come out stronger at the end. With all of this I do know I can also leave I can go back “home” with the drug and crime problem back there and all because I have somewhere to go if it all becomes too much there are so many people who cannot say the same.

  • AProst

    I almost feel embarrassed to not know more about this gal. Brilliant thinker. Thank you Damon!

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