Tag Archives: United States

How About We Continue “The Fiction Talk.”

Blog2018People applaud Proctor and Gamble for their commercials “The Talk.” The television show Blackish devoted an entire program on “The Talk.”

What you should know about The Talk, is that parents from the majority culture in the United States, will not have The Talk with their children. So, those of you, who don’t know about The Talk, find out at the links above, after reading my article.

For me, The Talk also hits home when it comes to fiction writing. I, often, include what I call “The Fiction Talk,” extending it beyond the words on a page.

At my university, the students in the Graduate Fine Arts program, are predominately white. Therefore, I find myself as the lone author in a writing workshop, for example, attempting to enlighten the students, who think The Talk in fiction, is off-putting or offensive. Attempting to explain, why I choose to demonstrate in some of my writing (depending on the character), why police, for example, profile African Americans. And although I am writing fiction, based on real life statistics, it contrasts their view of an “Officer-Friendly.”

What inspired me to also touch on this topic, is an article I read: Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published. There was a clever diagram in it, offering a snapshot of publishing categories, with a variety of sub-categories. The information promoted mainstream avenues. There was no mention of subcategories such as multiculturalism, urban fiction “dubbed street literature or gangster literature” fiction. Neither LGBT, or multigenerational for that matter, received a mention. Nothing wrong with that. There are authors who don’t want to be pigeon-holed. Book sellers do not classify my work under niche categories, but I have The Fiction Talk, like other authors, who do not feel compelled to shelve their work under niche categories, to have or not have, The Fiction Talk.

We live in a country divided by culture and race, despite some fiction authors claiming readers do not want to hear about it—claiming it does not exist. Much like the current White House Administration (Unnamed because I refuse to give them a voice) and their supporters. Writers expanding their words beyond mainstream ideals, must be more courageous and outspoken, keeping The Fiction Talk in the forefront. It is our right.

Publishing today can be a gamechanger, if you find the right avenue that works for you. Publishing is broader and includes more than adding self-publishing to the list. Given the additional sub-categories mentioned above, they do deserve a mention. Readers are very diverse, like writing, and reflect society of today. There are some readers, who hunt for titles, listed under their niche interests. I know a Lesbian woman who says she purposely looks for books labeled under an LGBT category. There are commercial publishers interested in these types of fiction categories. Authors may opt to choose one because of the difficulty obtaining a mainstream publisher; they may want to proudly display culture, opposed to following the lead of publishers, wanting manuscripts that assimilate culture, rather than tout real-life diversity.

There is a variety of ways authors can represent The Fiction Talk, for readers hungry to understand what all The Talk is about. Wanting to learn how to be more tolerant, rather than jump to defend. As determined writers, it is our passion to inspire understanding. That is why the title of this blog is: How About We Continue the “Fiction Talk.” A statement, not a question.

In truth,

Amani Shakhete

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If you had a gun would you scream for help?

The “George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin trial” should be an open and shut case. But because a young black man – a 17-year-old – was gunned down, certain factions of our society want to make Trayvon out to be the bad guy.

The Bottom Line

George should have stayed in the car. If he would have done what the 911 operator told him to do “don’t follow him” Trayvon Martin would still be alive. But Zimmerman ignored the 911 operator; he got out of his car and followed Trayvon with the intent to make sure this black teen did not get away – because as he put it “they always get away.”

Trayvon Martin was on his way home. He had no weapon except for his Skiddles and ice tea. Yet the George Zimmerman fan club insists it was Trayvon’s fault. They want us to believe Trayvon had no right to defend himself and that Zimmerman who was carrying a loaded gun was screaming for help.

Question: If you had a gun to defend yourself would you scream for help?
Answer: NO!
Question: If someone was pointing a gun at you, what would you do?
Answer: I would scream for help and defend myself even if it meant bashing the perpetrator’s head into the ground and smashing his nose.

As the prosecutor put it, “One person is dead and the other one is a liar.”

View the Murder 2012 video by Boss Amanishakhete on Youtube
Murder 2012

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Changing the script for televison, film and fiction novels

newcoverDTETyler Perry’s Haves and Have Nots premiered on OWN TV – the Oprah Channel. It depicts a wealthy white family with a black maid and whose estranged daughter  (a prostitute)  infiltrates the family after sleeping with the head of the family – the white man she attempts to blackmail for get this: a $100,000 and a sports car.

First, let me say I ain’t hating on Tyler Perry. I have much respect for him and absolutely love Madea. In my novel, The Diary of Tippy Ellis, I’ve included some typical shaddy characters who deeply affected my life.

But, as an African American woman, I’ve grown weary of stories about black female hos, hip hop divas, overweight mamas, bitches, hoochies, ghetto queens, maids, mistresses or prostitutes trying to take a white man’s money.  And OMG the hip hop and black women beating each other down reality shows! Not to say they don’t have their place. These stories depict the lives of some African Americans. BUT NOT ALL.  Unfortunately, white television executives – especially – drive these types of stories refusing to recognize the breadth of black experiences.

In contrast, we need a level playing field; change the script and open the door for a variety of African American storytellers who come from different worlds?

For example, my parents come from the south; they are both highly educated. My mom comes from a family of educators and landowners and my father pulled himself up by the “bootstraps” so-to-speak. As an Air force family, we spent most of our earlier years in the Pacific NW, living in majority white communities.

The lead character in my novel the Diary of Tippy Ellis is LaTonya Ellis who is 17 years old and worth $100 million. This is not a fantasy but a reality. Yes. There are black people worth millions and they are not hip hop artists and athletes.

Excerpt from The Diary of Tippy Ellis “Mama’s Daughter”

         Chapter 1 – Ain’t hell for bad people?

I’m black, an African American, a person of color. Regardless of how you paint me, my family is wealthy. This makes me very rich and a “Girlishcious” American teenager.

I’m LaTonya Loretta Ellis. Most everyone calls me Tippy, a nickname my parents gave me when I was 4. I could walk up on you without you knowing and during the most inopportune times. I’d hear juicy stuff kids normally shouldn’t. As an only child, this often was my source of entertainment. Yet, some of what I heard became the basis for my unhappiness.

Lots of kids blame their parents. I’m no different even though you may think my life is a little easier because I’m rich – I mean really rich – and you probably think I’m spoiled – Not! I have problems like any average teenage girl. In fact, my cross is heavier. At least I think so.

Early on I was fortunate to have 2 parents who married for love, so I thought. Now daddy has a new wifey. She’s not my real mama nor stepmama. I don’t claim the lying, cheating, backstabbing skank, whose shit stinks worse than anyone else’s I’ve smelled! Pretty bad.

My birth parents are Robert T. Ellis and Loretta Oliver-Ellis, well-educated and socially astute. They both come from politically charged backgrounds. Daddy gained his views over time whereas mama’s were handed down through generations.

Mama’s family is staunch Republican – the ultra conservative kind. They support every Republican candidate despite their ideology.

They may be black but they think they’re above the average black person – poor and middle-class. Mama’s parents, granddaddy and gramma Oliver, campaign for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan during this year’s 2012 presidential election. They believe Romney and Ryan are the answer to black folks’ problems.

 I live with daddy, so I learn my ideals from him. He makes sure his family understands what side of the track to stand on. Daddy talks about politics often and we support President Barack Obama. You probably guessed Daddy is a diehard liberal Democrat. He hates Republicans especially the black ones. He thinks they’re all traitors except for General Collin Powell.

“Yeah he’s a good man,” daddy says. “Even told his boss W to go to hell. That takes courage.”

Mama was born with a silver spoon. She comes from a long-line of Oliver’s – steel and land moguls dating back to the 1700s.

Daddy’s a self-made multimillionaire thanks to mama. She helped him start his business, RJ Builders and Design, now a fortune 500 company. His wealth is why his new wifey married him.

On Amazon.com review the first six chapters of The Diary of Tippy Ellis “Mama’s Daughter” on Kindle.

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Memorial Day excerpt from The Diary of Tippy Ellis

FACEBOOK Diary_of_Tippy_Ellis_Cover_for_Kindle (2)Daddy gently squeezes my hands and says, “I’ll sit with you until you get back to sleep.”

I may be 16, but I miss being daddy’s little girl. Often I pretend my nightmares affect me way more than they do. Then I can be his little girl again.

5/28/2012 Late morning…

Thank you Big G. Today is Memorial Day and no school. I plan to stay home all day – eat, sleep and watch movies. No Jeremy either. My boo is out-of-town visiting Miami University, 1 of the schools trying to recruit him. Jeremy is 1 of the most sought after football quarter backs in the country. He’s a senior at Stone Mountain High but scouts started courting him in his junior year.

Oh damn! The phone’s ringing. It’s my BFF.

“Hey Tip! Get your ass up!” TiAnna is loud, making me hold the phone away from my ear.

“What!” I shout back.

“We’re goin’ to the mall so get ready.” TiAnna can be demanding sometimes. Hm. Like I’m gonna jump right up. Not today.

“I ain’t feelin’ it T. I’ve been up most of the night.”

“Uh-oh. Another nightmare girl?”

“Uh-huh. Daddy sat with me.”

“Aw ain’t he  sweet. How’s he acting anyway?”

“Hm. Gotta have a nightmare before he acts right.”

“All the reason you need to get up Tip. It’ll do you good to break out of Guantanamo for a while.”

“Naw. I wanna hide.”

“Now look Tip. You being all depressed ain’t good.”

“Who says I’m depressed? I’m just tired.”

“Girl paleeze. I can hear it in your voice. I know you.”

Damn. I love my BFF and would do anything for her. But today ain’t the day. Why does she keep buggin’?

“LaTonya Ellis,” she says, trying to sound like daddy. “Be at the mall by 2:00. I’m buying you your birthday outfit.”

“My birthday’s not until next month. What’s the rush?”

“I’ll be broke by tomorrow that’s why.”

Funny. TiAnna almost never spends money on anyone but herself. But she’s a good friend and knows all about my problems.

Diary of Tippy Ellis is now on sale at Amazon.com (paperback and kindle), Createspace.com and Barnes and Noble.com

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Pacific NW author inspired by own life uses Portland as backdrop for the Diary of Tippy Ellis

As an African-American growing up in Oregon, I believe I offer a perspective that may be different from being raised in a  predominately African-American community. My family was stationed here in the late 60s – Astoria and Salem – where my father was a Captain in the Air Force reserves.  Here we were isolated from the larger black experience.  The community was small in comparison to larger cities due to the less than 2 percent black population which remains that way today. Despite that, we had parents with southern roots, so as kids we spent our summers in Alabama and Georgia. As an adult, I have traveled and lived around the country including Great Britain.

I consider myself an international woman due to my diverse experiences which inspired me to write and publish the Diary of Tippy Ellis series, using Portland as one of the geographic locations for Tippy’s story.  The city offers a unique backdrop for this young adult fiction novel, featuring a black teenage heroine born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia only to be uprooted and moved to Portland in her senior year of high school.

In contrast to my experience, Tippy Ellis comes from a city which is predominately African-American. Therefore, her perspective  about Portland offers a unique insight on how many blacks may feel once they relocate here. Readers should know I use the geographic location and community perspective as merely a backstory amid the scandals, intense plot and numerous twists in the Diary of Tippy Ellis. Part One “Mama’s Daughter” leaves readers craving for part two which is slated for release in 2014.

Below is an excerpt from The Diary of Tippy Ellis, giving credence to Portland’s rap music scene which features a large number of white male hip hop artists. Currently this novel is on sale at Barnes and Noble.com, Amazon.com and Createspace.com.

Chapter  29  “Wigga Got Swag”

I watch Julie disappear into the house. Shit. Maybe I should leave. I’m pretty outgoing, but I don’t know how to make friends with these white folks. I start to head back in when someone grabs my arm. Out of instinct I pull my arm away, turn around and prepare to give the person who touched me without permission a “Got your damn nerve,” look.

“What up girl. Ain’t it past your bedtime?” What! It’s the white boy rapper AJ DaMenace.

“Hey,” I say smiling and give him a hug. I wanna say thanks for rescuing me but instead say, “What you doing hanging?”

“Dis my crib,” AJ says. “I’m letting my little brother host his gathering here. Good thing I’m the only house at the end of the block. Police would have a field day. But then our dad works for the Portland PD.”

“Your daddy’s the Po Po?” I say, leaning my neck back lookin’ at him.

“Ha! I’m lying,” he says.

“You must be the one playin’ the rap music,” I say.

“Girl you’d be surprised how many white kids love hip hop,” AJ says. “I’m sure you’ve already been schooled about Portland.”

For the first time I notice his diction. Hm. A white boy trying to sound ghetto. A wigga we call ‘em back in Atlanta.

“Wanna dance?” says AJ.

The song playing is unfamiliar but good dancing music. “I can dance to that,” I say. “Who’s flowing?

He pulls me over to the side near one of the tents. He’s still grinning, “I hear some rap artist named DaMenace. Pretty swank huh.”

“Ooo bangin’” I say, leaning my head back.

AJ DaMenace starts dancing. I guess that’s my cue. There’s not much room so we’re standing pretty close; close enough so we don’t have to shout. This feels funny. I’ve never been this close to a white boy before. He smells good and he’s not bad to look at.

He keeps his blonde hair cropped close to his head and he’s damn cute when he smiles. His whole face widens, creating laugh lines around his smile which shows off his pretty white straight teeth. He has diamond earrings in his kinda large ears but the rest of his finess overshadows them.

AJ’s telling me about his career like why he took on the stage name DaMenace, he pulled from the ol’ school Dennis the Menace show.

“Like Dennis the Menace I’m innocently sneaky but don’t mean no harm,” says DaMenace.

“So I need to watch you,” I say teasingly.

“Girl you can watch me all you want,” he says. Um. Wigga trying to flirt.

DaMenace graduated from Grant High School last year. His parents wanted him to go to college but stayed in the music business.

“They don’t like hip hop. They’re ultra conservative, big time Republicans who hate Obama,” he says. “We sure don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.”

AJ tells me his parents tolerated his friendship with Jerome.

“We were thick as thieves, inseparable,” he explains. “Later they began to like him. He turned on the Jerome charm. Anyway what’s not to like, right?”

I nod and lower my head for a moment.

“So what about you, girl?”

“Huh would you believe, I got staunch Republicans on my mama’s side?”

“Naw for real?”

“Yeah but my daddy’s as liberal as they come. So I get my ideals from him since he’s my only parent now.”

“Oh? Your parents not together?”

“Mama died when I was 7.”

“Sorry ‘bout dat. You lucky ta have a liberal daddy doe.”

The music is slowing down to a song called Emergency by Tank. AJ pulls me close without asking and begins swaying back and forth. Jeremy is the only boy I’ve slow danced with and it makes me nervous. But AJ is being cool wit’ me.

I’d forgotten about Julie. She shows up out of nowhere, tapping me on my shoulder. I turn my head toward her. Her face is right up close to mine. Hm. Hope her breath don’t stink.

“I see you’re in good hands. Sorry I left you,” she says, lowering her head a little.

Hm. A little late for sorry, I’m thinking. Anyway, I guess I’m in good hands.  I got my arms around AJ’s neck and he’s got his around my waist. Looks like Julie’s been in good hands too. Her hair is messy, make-up is almost gone and she and her boo are cheesing. They must’ve found some place to do-the-do. Ooo nasty. Doing it in someone else’s house without permission.

Julie and Jason are going to another party and asked if I wanted to go. At least they asked this time.

“I’ll make sure she gets home safely,” says AJ. There he goes again not asking. But I don’t wanna hang with Julie and Jason. I might get left again and not be as lucky.

Julie pooches her lips out, giving me, “Ooo girl.” In return I give her the “cutesy-girl” wave using my right four fingers. Then she hugs me around the neck.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” she says in my ear. For a minute she sounded like my BFF.

Once they’re gone…

 AJ says, “Hungry?”

“Naw,” I say.

“Wanna go for a walk den beautiful?”

“Okay,” I say blushing.

AJ takes my hand and we walk back into the house. On the way to the front door, he grabs his brother and makes him walk out with us. Barry looks like the guy Shonny almost ran over at school and flipped-off. Poor guy. Who’d name their kid Barry? My white math teacher back home name’s Barry. He’s got a corny sense of humor and laughs at his own jokes.

“Hey no fuck ups,” says AJ.

“Yeah, yeah,” says Barry.

“I’m leaving my boys in charge to keep the peace. Hey and watch the drinkin’!”

“Yeah yeah,” says Barry, walking away waving his brother off.

“I ain’t playin’. They’ll kick all y’all out if you start any shit!” says AJ. His brother has made it back to the front door. He waves again like saying “Whatever.”

Me and AJ walk down to the park. It’s clean and well-maintained with a few park benches, tables and playground equipment like a big slide, swings, monkey bars and a seesaw. The park also has several tall iron lamp polls with lights  bright enough to see in either direction. The dozen houses way in the distance all have their lights on, adding to the parks serene ambiance.

AJ says the houses were built within the past 2 years. This use to be an industrial area. There are still some vacant buildings developers plan to take down next year.

We sit close to each other on one of the park benches and AJ puts his arm around my shoulders. “Cold?” he says.

“Naw,” I say.  Hm. DaMenace is bold. He don’t know me like that. But I better be cool. He’s my ride home.

“My house use to belong to the owners of an auto repair shop,” says AJ. “I worked for the owner from the time I was 13 up to last year. Me and the owner’s son are cool. That’s how I learned to be a mechanic. I got my mechanic’s certificate last year.”

“Oh yeah?” I say. “Jack of all trades I see.”

“It pays the bills for now,” says AJ. “I can afford the payments on my house, I got on a lease option.”

I’m smiling. AJ’s braggin’, trying to impress me.

“Ya know I’ve never told anyone else this but you,” he says, hesitantly.

Now I’m thinking he’s gonna say something swank like girl you fine and I wanna get wit’ you. Hm, not sure about a white boy though. But ooo this wigga’s fine, making me get those feelings again – like with Jeremy and with Jerome – all the way down to my twot-twot. Okay, girl. Get a grip!

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Found alive! Missing Cleveland girls bring to light continued violence against young girls, women

Across the nation today many of us shared in the good news about Cleveland’s 3 missing teens who were found ALIVE and after beingmissing-women-4 (3) held captive for 10 years by a pedophile and rapist! We applaud Charles Ramsey the neighbor who rescued one of the girls from the house after hearing her screams for help.

This horrific incident sheds light on the serious problem of gender-based violence and sexual assault. National Organization of Women reports that women ages 24 and under suffer from the highest rates of rape.  The Justice Department estimates that one in five women will experience rape or attempted rape during their college years and that less than five percent of these rapes will be reported.  Moreover, women of color, especially African-American women are disproportionately victims of sexual assault that go underreported and receive limited media attention. Now add the growing human trafficking crisis, targeting young girls.

In my recently released “Diary of Tippy Ellis,” this crisis plagues many of the novel’s female characters. There are at least five different cases: a date rape, a human trafficking/kidnapping, gang rape, sexual assault of two underage victims by known adult assailants. If you haven’t read my novel you may be wondering why I chose to include so many events, depicting violence against women.

In my biography, I mention that my personal life inspired me to write this story although fictional. And writing it was healing in many ways. Mostly, my hope is to keep the light on this epidemic through continued awareness, giving our girls and women the tools to protect themselves and for everyone to have the courage – like Charles Ramsey and countless others – to act.  Stomp out violence against our girls and women now!

In truth,

Boss Amanishakhete

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