It’s been a few months since I’ve posted. I’ve been working on a lot of things, art, writing, mourning what was lost in the 2016 election, what could have been, but also becoming more driven than ever to make a difference. The following piece is a selection from an artist book I wrote and screen-printed. I made the piece last October, but more than ever, I feel its resonance.
About the piece:
On August 12, 2016, Simone Manuel became the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming. In the Black community, Simone’s triumph is especially significant because of the deep seeded, and often forgotten, history of race in the water. From the journey across the Atlantic, desegregated pools being drained or closed because of African American swimmers, to stereotypes about black people being unable to swim, “water” has never been a safe space. Public pools have been battlegrounds for equality, and navigating the white shores of America has often been a question of treading lightly or drowning.
Within this context, Treading Water is an artist book meant to cope, confront, and address the anxieties I as a black women associate with water and navigating the social climate of America. The book exists in an edition of screen-printed images and text, and mono-printed backgrounds.
Unlike most people, I don’t just read books—you know, a chapter a day, two every here and there, maybe a novel finished once a week. Generally, those are probably good reading habits, allowing a person to read consistently and more widely than say someone like a binge reader—someone like me. Yup, I admit it. I’m a binge reader, and I’m having trouble coming to terms with the idea that, well, maybe binge reading isn’t as great as it seems.
My Reading Habits
When I say I’m a binge reader, it’s exactly as it seems. Like people who binge watch TV shows (me), or movies (me), when I see a new book or series I want to read—I devour it. I’m your, “don’t talk to me I’m reading” girl, the “turning the page and eating” person, the “have I been in the bathroom stall for 3 hours? it’s not my bladder, it’s this cliffhanger in the last chapter” kid.
In High school there were weeks when I’d spend more than 12 hours a day just reading—on school days, meaning staying up until late into the night (never later than 1 or 2 am, cus you know, healthy people start their bad habits later in life) finishing not 1 book, but 2 or 3 a day. It was intense, and I kind of miss those wistful days, where time was an infinite sea of possibilities.
As a teen, I read to escape, to discover, to deal with the internal and external issues in my life that I wasn’t strong enough to face in reality. As an adult though, I’m trying to come to terms with what it means to engage with text without simply consuming it.
Let’s be honest, binge reading doesn’t leave a lot of room for reflection. I realize that I’ve internalized and sometimes completely overlooked the most problematic elements of the works I loved, and some I still love to this day. At the time, re-reading books during my binge sprees always helped me address those issues, but now, with even less time on my hands, I find that I’m going back to old favorites less and less.
The problem with binge reading, isn’t just that you’re not digesting what your taking in, it’s also an issue of consuming the same thing, over, and over, and over again, until you’re sick of it—or maybe even worse, until can’t or won’t broaden your horizons. When I binge read, I read in the same categories, the same genres, the same authors—the same repacked versions of stories I’ve read before.
kind of like this. Like at that point, can you even taste what your eating?
It’s fine to like what you like, but you won’t know what you don’t know, until you paint with all the colors of the wind…or something like that.
I say all this, but I still love binge reading, and there are some bright sides to it too like:
I’m more open to exploring new, experimental works in the categories and genres I binge.
If I see a random book, any random book on the YA shelf with a vaguely interesting premise, you better believe I’ll be picking it up. This goes with movies too. At this point, I’m scrapping at the bottom of the barrel just to get my hit of rom coms, and surprisingly, I’m finding some real gems down there too.
I see everything.
Tropes, stereotypes, twin sibling conveniently showing up —I’ve seen it all. There’s no crack that I can’t spot, no table left unturned. I can enjoy a good trope when I see one, but I can also tell when I’m being manipulated. Now more than ever, I willing to move on to something else when I find issues with what I’m consuming.
Maybe this time…
So there you have it, my binge reading post. It was supposed to be a post about all the books in my reading cave, but you can just check out my favorite things page to get a gist of what I’m into.
If there are any other binge readers out there, send me a sign. What are you currently binging, any recommendations? Not for me I mean, just for a friend…
This trailer left me feeling pretty apathetic about the film. Narratively, it gives me no understanding of what is actually going on in the story. I know the who (Wonder Woman), but what is she trying to accomplish, what is the central conflict of the story? Based on the overly dramatic music and the war montages, it seems like she’s going to have something to do with WWI but other than that, I’m at an impasse.
The only other thing that the trailer may or may not be focusing on is how being a women, her gender may pose as a conflict in the film. I know this because they constantly brought up how everyone else is a man, how she hasn’t ever met a man, how she can’t just do what she wants because doesn’t she know about men?
It’s a bit disappointing that none of the other Amazon women are given a real spotlight in the trailer, despite a brief appearance by who, her mother, her lover? I’m confused.
I’m not sure if Wonder Woman and Pine’s romance (that’s what it looks like anyway) will play a central part of the film. But honestly, the trailer’s approach to their (possible) romance seems strange to me. Are they afraid that men won’t see the film if it’s promoted as a straight war romance film (which may be why they’re not focusing on the story elements of the movie) or are they afraid that it will disenfranchise women if it’s shown as a straight forward action film? I honestly can’t tell.
Sigh, seeing this trailer just makes me want to watch Testament of Youth again.
This trailer gets 2 awkward song and dance numbers
Watch The Trailer Below:
Bonus Bit: My stream of thoughts while watching the trailer
The first words Wonder Woman says is…”you’re a man?” er…okay?
I laughed out loud when I heard the line because, how can I not? Especially with that overly dramatic music going on (man, when will super hero films get over the whole sad, overdramatic backstory phase they’re in? It’s been almost a decade since the Dark Knight and we’re still tryin’ give them tragic backstories? Not buying it.)
Also, the song sounds like the hunger games.
World War I??? I’M DOWN.
Have you never met a man before? um is that going to be an underlying theme in this movie? Really?
Also that ending? lol Wonder Women, please turn to chapter 1 in your world history book so we discuss the topic of slavery.
Conspiracy theory: Wonder Woman is actually a secret remake of Xandu. Honestly, I’d be sooo be ready for that.