We’re only three months into 2017 and I’ve already had multiple bursts of inspiration and creativity brought on by the genius of some intellectual that came before me. As you all know (and if you don’t know I literally have no idea where you been at fam), I’m working on a Ph.D. And in working on said Ph.D., I read a lot. Like a whole lot, most times not for leisure or mere personal fulfillment but because that’s the only way I can get the knowledge.
What knowledge you may ask?
ALL OF THE KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED FOR THEM PEOPLE TO GIVE ME THIS DAMN DEGREE.
So imagine my glee when I find myself in a position to start reading for fun. It’s always more fun to pick up a book and read it with little to no pressure to finish. To read and take notes because the words are valuable to you, not because you need to have them to support a point you’re trying to make.
I’m currently going through a venture to read books for my dissertation that I also get personal intellectual stimulation from. I’ve passed generals. Now it’s time to stimulate my mind and my soul. One of the first books up to bat is Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider.
Audre Lorde’s words have a relevance that I find only in the work of black women intellectuals who have lived, suffered, and survived enough life to speak pertinent transformative wisdom. I currently have a friend whose life is being radically impacted by James Baldwin. The film I Am Not Your Negro was the launching pad to his journey through Baldwin. He shared his feelings about the film with me and all I could do was smirk.
I’ve read Baldwin, heard his interviews, and find him a necessary part of any woke person’s literary and scholastic catalog. Basically, if you woke, you at some point will encounter James Baldwin and his mastery of the English language. But I smirked not because I believed Baldwin was one of the greatest intellectuals of the 20th century, which I do, but because I recognized the fervor with which my friend was consuming Baldwin’s works and words.
I know what it’s like to have someone you’ve never met speak some truth of your existence and to treat their legacy of words as if it were the gospel. Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider is one of those books. I can never reference it enough times, I can never run out of things to discover in it. It’s an endless well of wokeness for me. Plus she’s a great writer, and I’m a sucker for skilled writing.
You too should read some Lorde, or Baldwin, or whoever the hell stirs your intellectual soul for fun. I used to think the only way I could read for fun is if I read fiction. I love fiction literature. It’s what made Baby Bri into the imaginative, wander-lustful, spiritual nomad of a woman that I am today, but in recent years I’ve come to appreciate the power of agency over the genre of a book. Reading Sister Outsider, Black Feminist Thought, Bad Feminist, and Botox Nation is for pleasure because I’m choosing to read them. I’m going into them with the eyes of a tourist in a foreign place, not the focused eye of a grad student tryna find these quotes.
Self-care comes in many forms. Hope you continue finding ways to express your love for yourself as I do.
-Bri aka the one wandering down St. Charles