Tamara Winfrey Harris is a stealth radical. She writes about race, gender and their intersection with politics, pop culture and current events. She graciously joined us in The Hotbed last month for a lively discussion of her book, The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America. Midwestern affability is her superpower; you’d never know The Washington Post once called her “…half myth-buster, half crusader and all the way fed up.” She likes Converse sneakers, margaritas and “cozy” mystery TV shows. She is ride or die for black women and girls. Housework is not her ministry.
1. On the nightstand: Apple TV remote; my reading queue: When They Call You A Terrorist by Asha Bandele and Patrisse Cullors, and New Power by Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans; aromatherapy spray; dust…an embarrassing amount of dust. Shit. I really should dust more often.
2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Sleeping with the TV on. It has to be on, but not too loud. I need to hear the voices on the TV, but not be able to discern what they are saying. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. It keeps the boogeyman away.
3. Jam of the minute: Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy album is my record of the year. Every single track, but always and forever “Bodak Yellow.” Boastful hip hop by women never fails to lift my mood and confidence. When Cardi says, “You can’t fuck with me if you wanted to,” I, too, feel unfuckwitable.
4. Thing I miss: Water! I grew up near The Great Lakes and for most of my life was never far from the shores of Lake Michigan. I’m landlocked now. I miss the smell of the water and how driving past that expanse of calm blue makes a sunny day even brighter. And I especially miss how, on some windy fall nights, you can stand in my parents’ front yard and hear the lake roiling.
5. 80’s crush: Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. I love a man with an English accent and a full face beat.
6. Current crush: Idris Elba. He’s got the English accent. Maybe he’d let me put eyeliner on him or something. And, in real life, my husband. He is not English. He is from New Jersey, though, so he still talks fancy.
7. Will whine about: Heat. And crowds. I cannot stand being hot. Summer is the worst season, hands down. (Fight me.) I really, really cannot stand being hot in a crowd. Festivals and fairs are the work of the devil. There is not an elephant ear or band amazing enough to warrant mingling with the unwashed masses in 90+ degree heat.
8. Will wine about: Just about anything, though I prefer tequila or rum. There is nothing like drinks with a group of kick-ass, talented and creative women. I’ve been thinking of putting together a periodic black women’s salon of sorts. Just wine, appetizers, conversation and making the world right.
9. Best thing that happened yesterday: I received feedback on some work from a friend, who is a writer I greatly respect and trust. I am really lucky to know some terrific writers. They make me better.
10. Looking forward to: Finishing the proposal for my second book. I suppose it’s a sequel of sorts to The Sisters Are Alright. I’m working with a co-author to examine the ways that stereotypes affect black girls’ lives, and also how we can radically raise black girls, in the face of sexism and racism, to be happy and healthy.