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  2. 1. Hair Nah After getting tired of people putting their hands in her hair, Momo Pixel decided to create Hair Nah. This video game has you play as a Black woman traveling between three destinations — Osaka, Havana, and Santa Monica Pier. Throughout the game, players have to try preventing white hands from swooping in to touch your character’s hair. This is an issue that Black women talk about a lot, so the game ended up going viral. You can check out a video of Black women playing it below! 2. Sasha Says Brought to you by Atlanta-based duo Adrian McDaniel and Tremayne Toorie, Sasha Says combines “Simon Says” and “Bop-It” to create a gaming experience that’s perfect for kids. “We felt like it was very important for Black youth to be able to see a Black mascot, especially a Black female mascot, in games,” McDaniel told The Washington Informer. “That isn’t something you get to see very often and we also thought it was important to inspire Black youth to maybe get into development.” 3. Matatu Developers Terry Karungi, Daniel Okalany, Jasper Onono, and Guy Acellam all worked together to bring Matatu, a two-player Ugandan card game, to your phone. The app was immensely popular in Uganda. Back in 2013, the Daily Monitor reported that it had been in the top three most played games in Google Play in Uganda. 4. Treachery In Beatdown City If you’re a fan of fighting games and bringing a little bit of comedy into the experience, you’re going to love Treachery In Beatdown City. Developed by independent games and culture studio, Nuchallenger, the game’s plot centers around saving President Blake Orama from the Ninja Dragon Terrorists he’s been kidnapped by. The game isn’t out yet, but its release date is set for sometime before the end of the year. Until then, you can watch a trailer below. 5. B’Bop and Friends Created by Grefonda Hardy and her daughter Noelle Hardy, B’Bop and Friends is an educational video game that helps children with their reading and writing skills. The game features two male and two female characters whom all have their own storylines. Each character has their own room where they can participate in games and activities that enhance players’ reading skills. B’Bop and Friends also has multiplayer games including tennis and basketball. afrotech.com
  3. 6. Swimsanity! Brothers Khalil and Ahmed Abdullah founded independent game studio Decoy Games. Together, they’ve released Swimsanity! — a multiplayer underwater shooter game. The game will be available on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One sometime this summer. 7. SweetXHeart What originally started in 2014 as an independent project turned into something much bigger. With Catt Small’s SweetXHeart (pronounced sweetheart), players are challenged to get through the week as Kara, a 19-year-old from the Bronx. Small describes SweetXHeart as a “slice-of-life-game about microaggressions, race, and gender.” 8. BLeBRiTY With Jesse Williams’ BLeBRiTY, players are tested on their knowledge of Black culture in a charade inspired game. The game boasts over 25 genres, including “HBCUs,” “Momma Phrases,” and more. “We decided to stop waiting and start building. By creating the experiences we like, we’ve tapped into our own cultural zeitgeist, which is so often the source material for pop culture at large,” Williams said, according to Vibe. “BLeBRiTY is an uproariously funny, creative event where everyone can play, learn and laugh their a**es off! We don’t wait to be included anymore, we build and include ourselves.” 9. Black Inventors Match Game Created by, Dr. Leshell Hatley, Black Inventors Match Game is the first mobile app designed to teach Black history that specifically targets kids. Kids follow best friends, Myles and Ayesha, to learn who invented the patents for items like doorknobs, traffic lights, and more. Kids also have their memories tested with a matching game. 10. For The Culture Developed by Ark Creative Company — this app aims to celebrate Black culture by putting a modern spin on charades. For The Culture has over 20 categories, including Celebrities, Historical Figures, and more. Watch a trailer for the app below! afrotech.com
  4. African Americans make up a significant demographic of video gamers, the second largest ethnic group to play, after Asian Americans. Yet, there is a paucity of African Americans in the video game industry. Only 2.5% of game developers are of color. This means that not only are African American tech professionals missing out on obtaining some of the coolest jobs ever, but also there has been an issue with the stereotyping and negative portrayals of black characters in games. As Evan Narcisse, writing for gaming site Kotaku, points out, “When I think about black characters and visions of black life in video games that resonated with me–whether it’s Adewale or Aveline from the Assassin’s Creed games–I have to reckon with the idea that there was very likely no black person making decisions about those characters.” While scarce, there are some black people doing some amazing work in the gaming industry. If you dream about a career in making video games, you will want to know about these top 10 black people in the gaming industry. Andrew Augustin Augustin is the founder and creative director of Notion Games L.L.C.. He is also a Black Entrepreneur Modern Man. Before launching his own company, he worked for Edge of Reality as a character designer, and then as a world-builder for Sims 3 Pets for Xbox 360 and Play Station 3. Gordon Bellamy Bellamy started his career as a lead designer for EA’s Madden franchise. He also served as executive director of the International Game Developers Association. He recently co-founded Hangry Studios, a consulting firm focused on quality assurance and automation for PC, mobile, and virtual reality games. Morgan Gray Gray has been in the video game industry for quite some time. He’s worked on a number of best-selling games including Tomb Raider, Star Wars, and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Derek Manns: Manns is the founder of Sungura Games. In an interview with Black Enterprise he said his company, “is primarily African American and is steady.” He offered this advice for those seeking a career in video games, “Those looking to join gaming, make sure you’re good at math. Also, look into schools that offer gaming in undergrad.” Dennis Mathews Mathews is a game developer and founder of Revelation Interactive Game Development. He went to school initially for aerospace engineering but then went on to study game design. Mathews is also a developer for Terrific Studios L.L.C. Marcus Montgomery Montgomery was lead game designer at Glu Mobile. He is also the founder of WeAreGameDevs.com–a platform for supporting diversity in the gaming industry. He made news recently by modifying a black Barbie doll into a game developer doll for his wife who is also a game developer. Joseph Saulter Saulter is the founder of Entertainment Arts Research Inc. a leader in the video game industry. He is the chairman of the International Game Developers Association’s Diversity Advisory Board and the author of a series of game design and development textbooks published by McGraw-Hill. Laura Teclemariam Teclemariam works as a senior product manager for gaming and entertainment giant EA. She graduated with a degree in electrical engineering/computer science from the University of California, Irvine. Lisette Titre ACG artist and computer animator Lisette Titre has contributed to some of EA’s highest profile games, including Tiger Woods Golf for Nintendo’s Wii, The Simpsons, and Dante’s Inferno. Karisma Williams Williams is creative director of Matimeo.com and works at Microsoft as a senior experience developer/designer for Xbox Kinect, which lets players interact with video games without the use of a controller. blackenterprise.com
  5. This is a list of black video game characters. The 2009 study "The virtual census: representations of gender, race and age in video games" published by the University of Southern California showed that African Americans appear in video games in proportion to their numbers in the 2000 US census data, but mainly in sports games and in titles that reinforce stereotypes. Characters 50 Cent of 50 Cent: Bulletproof and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand Adam Hunter of Streets of Rage Afro Samurai of Afro Samurai Aisha of Rumble Roses and Rumble Roses XX Alyx Vance of Half-Life 2 (mixed Black-Asian descent) Anthony Higgs of Metroid: Other M Augustus Cole of Gears of War Aurelia Hammerlock of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Aveline de Grandpré of Assassin's Creed Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop Ayme of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean Balrog of Street Fighter Bangalore of Apex Legends Baptiste of Overwatch Barret Wallace of Final Fantasy VII Basilio[6] of Fire Emblem Awakening Beatrix LeBeau of Slime Rancher Big Smoke of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Birdie of Street Fighter (black only in the Alpha and V series) Black Baron of MadWorld Blacker Baron of Anarchy Reigns Black Panther, appeared in various games; see Black Panther (comics)#Video games Blade, appeared in various games; see Blade (comics)#Video games Bo Jackson, appeared in various games; see Bo Jackson#Video games Boman Delgado of Rival Schools: United by Fate Brad Garrison of Dead Rising Bruce Irvin of Tekken Bryan Roses of Killer Is Dead Carl "CJ" Johnson of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Charles Milton Porter of BioShock 2: Minerva's Den Charles Smith of Red Dead Redemption 2 Clementine of The Walking Dead Coach of Left 4 Dead 2 Cyborg, appeared in various games; see Cyborg (comics)#Video games Cyrax of Mortal Kombat Crying Wolf of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Daisy Fitzroy of BioShock Infinite Daley Thompson, three Ocean Software games; see Daley Thompson#After athletics Dandara of Dandara D'arci Stern of Urban Chaos Darrius of Mortal Kombat David Anderson of Mass Effect Dee Jay of Street Fighter Demoman of Team Fortress 2 Disco Kid of Punch-Out!! Doc Louis of Punch-Out!! Donald Anderson (DARPA Chief) of Metal Gear Solid Doomfist of Overwatch Drebin 893 of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Dudley of Street Fighter Eddie Hunter (aka Skate, aka Sammy Hunter) of Streets of Rage 2 Eddy Gordo of Tekken Elena of Street Fighter Eli Vance of Half-Life Emmett Graves of Starhawk Fortune of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Fran of Final Fantasy XII Franklin Clinton of Grand Theft Auto V Garcian Smith of Killer7 Grace of Fighting Vipers Heavy D! of The King of Fighters Henry and Sam of The Last of Us Iris of Pokémon Black and White Irving Lambert of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Isaac Washington of The House of the Dead: Overkill J.D. Morrison of Devil May Cry 5 Jacob Taylor of Mass Effect Jacqui Briggs of Mortal Kombat Jade of Mortal Kombat James Heller of Prototype Jax of Mortal Kombat Jeffry McWild in Virtua Fighter Jim Chapman of Resident Evil Outbreak Josh Stone of Resident Evil 5 John Dalton of Unreal II: The Awakening Julius Erving (aka Dr. J) of One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird Kai of Mortal Kombat Kendl Johnson of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Kenneth J. Sullivan of Resident Evil Kid Quick of Punch-Out!! Knox of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare LaShawn and Kahlil of Bébé's Kids Laurence Barnes (aka Prophet) of Crysis Lee Everett of The Walking Dead Lenny Summers of Red Dead Redemption 2 Leroy Smith of Tekken Liam Kosta of Mass Effect: Andromeda Lifeline of Apex Legends Lincoln Clay of Mafia III Lisa Hamilton of Dead or Alive Lieutenant Alphanso Adams of Spec Ops: The Line Louis of Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 Lucian of League of Legends Lúcio of Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm Lucius Fox, appeared in various video games; see Lucius Fox#Video games Lucky Glauber of The King of Fighters Luke Cage (aka Power Man), appeared in various games; see Luke Cage#Video games Mace Windu of Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles and Lego Star Wars Mad Jack of Heavy Rain Madd Dogg of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Marcus Holloway of Watch Dogs 2 Marcus Howard of Call of Duty WW2 Marina of Splatoon 2 Mark Kimberley of Shenmue Mark Wilkins of Resident Evil Outbreak Marlow Briggs of Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death Marvin Branagh of Resident Evil Master Raven of Tekken Master Sergeant Matthew "Coops" Cooper of ARMA 2 Matt of Until Dawn Matt of Wii Sports Michael Jackson, appeared in various games; see Michael Jackson-related games (Michael Jackson's health and appearance) Michael Jordan in Michael Jordan in Flight and Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City Michael LeRoi of Shadow Man (video game) Mike Tyson, appeared in various games; see Mike Tyson in popular culture#In video games Mr. Sandman of Punch-Out!! Maya of Killer Instinct Mohammed Avdol of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Nadine Ross of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End Nathan Copeland of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle Nick Fury, appeared in various games; see Nick Fury in other media#Video games (Not always black.) Nilin of Remember Me Nix of Infamous 2 OG Loc of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Qhira of Heroes of the Storm Raven of Tekken Riley Abel of The Last of Us Rochelle of Left 4 Dead 2 Rodin of Bayonetta Roland of Borderlands Romeo of Halo 3: ODST Sam B of Dead Island Samuel Williams of Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive Sazh Katzroy of Final Fantasy XIII SCAT member Collins of Night Trap Sean Johnson of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Sean Matsuda of Street Fighter III Sergeant Cormack of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Sergeant Foley of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson of Halo Shadow Man of Shadow Man Shaquille O'Neal (aka Shaq), appeared in various games; see Shaquille O'Neal#Video games Sheva Alomar of Resident Evil Shinobu Jacobs of the No More Heroes series Sir Hammerlock of Borderlands 2 Staff Sgt. Griggs of Call of Duty Storm, appeared in various games; see Storm in other media#Video games Tanya of Mortal Kombat Taurus of Interstate '82 Three Dog of Fallout 3 Tiger Jackson of Tekken T.J. Combo of Killer Instinct Tilly Jackson of Red Dead Redemption 2 Tom Johnson of Shenmue Torque of The Suffering Twintelle of Arms Tyler Miles of Fahrenheit Tyrael of Diablo III Vanessa Lewis of Virtua Fighter Victor Vance and his brother Lance Vance, of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Vivienne, of Dragon Age: Inquisition War Machine, appeared in various games; see War Machine in other media#Video games Wonder-Black of The Wonderful 101 Yelena Fedorva of Deus Ex: Human Revolution Zach Hammond of Dead Space Zack of Dead or Alive Zasalamel of Soulcalibur wikipedia.org
  6. Video games have also had an effect on the ability of racial minorities to express their identities online in semi-protected environments. The limited constraints in regards to character design in multiplayer games, such as Minecraft, allow video game players to alter their outer appearance in game to match their real life appearance as closely as they choose. wikipedia.org
  7. There have been a number of controversies surrounding race and video games, including public debates about Resident Evil 5, Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization, Left 4 Dead 2, BioShock Infinite, World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Video games may influence the learning of young players about race and urban culture. The portrayal of race in some video games such as the Grand Theft Auto series, Custer's Revenge, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, and Def Jam: Fight for NY has been controversial. The 2002 game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was criticized as promoting racist hate crimes. The game takes place in 1986, in "Vice City", a fictionalized Miami. It involves a gang war between Haitian and Cuban refugees which involves the player's character. However, it is possible to play the game without excessive killing. The 2009 game Resident Evil 5 is set in Africa, and as such has the player kill numerous African antagonists. In response to criticism, promoters of Resident Evil 5 argued that to censor the portrayal of black antagonists was discrimination in itself. In 2008, the release of Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization was controversial for giving players the ability to colonize the Americas. For some critics, like Ben Fritz, the game was 'offensive' since it allowed players to do “horrific things .. or whitewash some of the worst events of human history.” Fritz wrote, “the idea that 2K and Firaxis and Sid Meier himself would make and release a game in the year 2008 that is not only about colonization, but celebrates it by having the player control the people doing the colonizing is truly mind boggling.” Firaxis Games' president Steve Martin responded by pointing out how “the game does not endorse any particular position or strategy—players can and should make their own moral judgments.” There was significant backlash against Ben Fritz on online forums and blogs, with gameplayers talking about how colonization has always happened, and this is just realism. Others talked about how colonization and racism are two different things. Rebecca Mir and Trevor Owens write about how 'The game is undoubtedly offensive, but it would be impossible to create a value-free simulation of the colonial encounter. ... if there is something regrettable about the game in its current state, it is that it is not offensive enough. While the game lets you do some rather evil things, those evil things are nevertheless sanitized versions of the events that actually took place in reality.' Ken White says 'Empire-building games always involve conflict — often violent — with other people, and the more sophisticated ones almost always depict stronger groups overcoming weaker groups. Many involve religious or cultural conversion of some sort. Many permit digital genocide, with your little nation of abstractions defeating another little nation of abstractions mercilessly. ... While the graphics, gameplay detail, and level of abstraction vary widely, they all come down to build, manage, conquer, and destroy.' Media theorist Alexander Galloway, in his book, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture argues about how these kinds of games are always an “ideological interpretation of history” or the “transcoding of history into specific mathematical models.” wikipedia.org
  8. Through interactive gameplay, players learn about race through the types of characters that are portrayed in the virtual reality. The way racial groups are portrayed in video games affects the way video game players perceive defining characteristics of a racial group. The presence or absence of racial groups affects how players belonging to those racial groups see themselves in terms of the development of their own identity and self-esteem. The idea of portraying different races is not something entirely new in the history of video games. Early games, including some MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, featured multiple playable (fictional) races that the player could choose from at the beginning of the game. Compared to the research on gender stereotyping, fewer studies have examined racial stereotyping in video games. Light skin tones are seen as the default skin color for many games. The portrayal of racial minorities in video games has been demonstrated to have a tendency to follow certain racial stereotypes. A study by the Children Now organization in 2001 noted that of the 1,716 video game characters analyzed, all Latino characters "appeared in a sports-oriented game, usually baseball." 83% of African-American males were portrayed as competitors in sports-oriented games, while 86% of African-American females were either "props, bystanders, or participants in games, but never competitors." Research by Anna Everett and Craig Watkins in 2007 claims that since then, the number of black and Latino characters has increased with the rising popularity of "urban/street games," while their portrayal has remained consistently narrow. In the action/shooter genre of urban/street games, both blacks and Latinos are typically portrayed as "brutally violent, casually criminal, and sexually promiscuous." The protagonist of the Just Cause series, Rico Rodriguez, is Hispanic, as is 'Ding' Chavez, protagonist of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six. In the sports genre, blacks are typically portrayed as "verbally aggressive and extraordinarily muscular and athletic." African Americans are represented as aggressive or athletic characters more often than as protagonists or heroes. In a 2009 survey of 150 games across nine platforms, University of Southern California Professor Dmitri Williams "found that fewer than 3 percent of video game characters were recognizably Hispanic and none were playable. Native Americans and biracial characters were non-existent. Though, Native Americans have been the protagonists of several video games, most notably in the Turok series, and in the 2006 title Prey. African Americans enjoyed a rate of 10.74 percent, with a big caveat; they were mostly athletes and gangsters." In a study that examined the top 10 most-highly rated games for each year from 2007–2012, Ithaca College graduate Ross Orlando found that "black and Asian characters each have 3 percent representation in the pool of main protagonists; Latino a mere 1 percent." In 2015, Pew Research Center found that 35% of blacks, 36% of Hispanics, and 24% of whites surveyed believe that minorities are portrayed poorly in video games. The range of playable characters in certain gaming contexts has an overtly racial component. Some have argued that the high proportion of black male characters in sports video games (according to David J. Leonard, 80% of black male video game characters as of 2003 were sports competitors) have enabled (predominantly white male) gamers to practice what Adam Clayton Powell III refers to as "high-tech blackface", a digital form of minstrelsy that allows white players to effectively 'try on' blackness without being forced to acknowledge or confront the degrading racist histories surrounding minstrelsy. The potential for video games as a site for promulgating reductive, racist tropes has prompted many to point out the use of yellowface, or "the donning and using of the "yellow" body by whites" to degrade and invisiblize Asian characters in a variety of games as well. Anthony Sze-Fai Shiu argues that the Duke Nukem 3D series (including Duke Nukem 3D and its spiritual sequel Shadow Warrior) enable the gamer to identify strongly with the protagonist, due to the first-person perspective employed by the games. "These characters, then, establish a scenario where the player's control over virtual embodiment demands critical decisions concerning subjective investments in the games’ scenarios and narratives. As such, both Duke Nukem 3D’s and Shadow Warrior's speculations concerning white subjectivity and yellowface performance call for an investigation into the value of performing as a racial other for the sake of game play." wikipedia.org
  9. A 2014-2015 report published in 2016 by the International Game Developers Association found that people of color were both underrepresented in senior management roles as well as underpaid in comparison to white developers. Gaming convention organizer Avinelle Wing told Newsweek, "The industry has an even bigger problem with race than it does with gender.” Many have pointed out that this lack of diversity within the industry has contributed to a lack of representation within video games themselves. Dennis Mathews, a game designer at Revelation Interaction Studios, suggests that the exclusion of non-white game developers leads to stereotyping within video game development and marketing. Developer prejudices impact who counts as a game's target audience, leading many developers to pigeonhole or ignore non-white gamers. As Mathews puts it, "Those stereotypes tie into publisher decisions of what games get picked up and what should be put into games." The Game Developers Conference, a popular annual video game conference frequented by both industry and players, runs an "Advocacy Track" to "address new and existing issues within the realm of social advocacy. Topics covered range from diversity to censorship to quality of life." While initially started in 2013 to address issues around gender and gaming, the "Advocacy Track" features panels explicitly interested in improving diversity in gaming more broadly, including concerns around race. One of the earliest pioneers in the gaming industry was African-American engineer Jerry Lawson, who helped develop the first cartridge-based home video game console. Other people of African descent in gaming include industry executive Gordon Bellamy. Notable Hispanics in the gaming industry include John Romero, co-creator of Doom, often called the first true "first-person shooter." wikipedia.org
  10. There are mixed results on the demographics of people who play video games. While one study mentions that African American and Hispanic children make up the majority of video game players, a study by Pew Research Center finds that 73.9% of white children play video games compared to 26.1% of nonwhite children. The Pew Research Center found that 19% of Hispanic respondents and 11% of Black respondents described themselves as "gamers," compared to 7% of Whites. Another report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that African American and Hispanic youth ages 8–18 spend more time with video games on average than White youth. Nielsen survey research found similar results. In her work, Adrienne Shaw describes how the gamer identities of players intersect with identities of gender, race, and sexuality. Another Pew study showed that 89% of Black teens play video games, as well as 69% of Hispanic teens. In addition, white and Hispanic teen gamers were 'more likely than blacks to report feeling angry while playing online.' wikipedia.org
  11. The relationship between race and video games has received substantial academic and journalistic attention. Game theory, based on Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens, argues that playing video games provides a way to learn about the world. Games offer opportunities for players to explore, practice, and re-enforce cultural and social identities. Video games predominantly created and played by one racial group can unintentionally perpetuate racial stereo-types and limit players' choices to preconceived notions of racial bias. wikipedia.org
  12. 1. Fried Chicken Image via Flickr/stu_spivack Fried chicken is one of the most glorious things ever created. It's one of the few foods that could be served for Sunday dinner, at church functions, or for other special occasions. Though it is beloved by many cultures, there are several bones of contention as to exactly who should get credit for inventing this dish. Whether it was a cook in West Africa, Western Europe, or Southeast Asia, fried chicken has become an African-American favorite. Classically fried in a cast-iron skillet, made Nashville hot, or paired with a waffle, fried chicken has divine status in soul food cuisine. No wonder we've nicknamed it "The Gospel Bird." firstwefeast.com
  13. 4. Peach Cobbler Image via Adrian Miller Peach cobbler can thank technology, in part, for its elevated status over other soul-food desserts. Cobblers were once a seasonal fruit dessert only enjoyed during late spring and the summer months. It typically was made in a large cast-iron pot set over a fire. The pot was filled with any available fruit, some additional sweetener, and some spices, and then the entire thing was topped with a crust made from leftover biscuit dough. With improvements in canning technology, fruit cobblers could be eaten year-round. As ovens improved, soul-food cooks could now add a bottom layer of crust, thus making the dish a little fancier. Peaches, it turns out, were once thought of as an aphrodisiac. This may explain why, despite the existence of so many types of cobbler, peach has captured so many hearts. 3. Macaroni and Cheese Image via Flickr/stu_spivack I know elderly African Americans who believe that mac 'n' cheese is wholly created by soul-food cooks, but that's clearly not the case. The confusion may arise from the fact that enslaved cooks were introduced to this dish outside of an Italian context. Before significant waves of Italian immigrants arrived in the U.S. by the late 1800s, wealthy whites visiting Europe fell in love with mac 'n' cheese and brought recipes back with them. White planters like Thomas Jefferson introduced the dish into Big House kitchens. Enslaved cooks were called upon to prepare the dish, typically on the weekends or when special guests dined on the plantation. After Emancipation, African Americans embraced this dish and made it a part of the culinary repertoire for Sunday dinner. It has retained its special status ever since. 2. Greens Image via Adrian Miller Vegetables get much love on the soul-food plate, and greens (the edible leaves of certain plants) are the most consistent starring attraction. Most African Americans trace their roots to West Africa, a region where greens are a mainstay of many local cuisines. Enslaved West Africans brought a taste for greens with them across the Atlantic. Because they couldn't get the bitter tropical greens they were used to eating, African Americans substituted the bitter greens that Europeans cultivated—the most popular being cabbage, collards, kale, mustard, and turnip greens. Those greens are eaten year-round, but have special meaning on New Year's Day as symbols of prosperity. For those who have discovered collards and kale in the last five to ten years, welcome to the party. We've been eating them for nearly four centuries. firstwefeast.com
  14. 7. Cornbread Image via Getty/Tom Williams There was a time when cornbread was so essential to a soul-food meal that certain foods like greens wouldn't be served unless cornbread was present. Cornbread is just one example of the influence that indigenous people in the Americas have on this cuisine. In addition to making traditional Native American corn-based breads like pone (later called hoe cake), enslaved Africans made familiar breads from West Africa using cornmeal as a substitute. Soul-food cornbread is distinguished from southern cornbread by the fact that it always has some sugar in it. Some misguided souls believe this transforms soulful cornbread into cake. No matter. Whether it's hot water cornbread, Jiffy mix, or spoonbread (a cornbread soufflé), cornbread is the staff of soul-food life. 6. Fried Fish Image via Getty/The Washington Post Traditionally, West Africans made seafood their protein of choice, and African Americans have carried on that culinary tradition. Even during slavery, the weekend fish-fry was a much anticipated event. On a typical plantation, the field work schedule stopped by noon on Saturday, and the enslaved spent the rest of the day doing chores and food-gathering activities like fishing. Catfish gets the most press these days, but any number of fish would be gobbled up depending on what was available: buffalo, mullet, perch, porgy, and whiting, to name just a few. Frying was the preferred way to cook fish because it allowed the food to be enjoyed on the spot. This gives further proof to the old saying, "Fish should swim twice—once in water and once in grease." 5. Red Drink Image via Yelp In soul-food culture, "red" is a color and a flavor. We don't get caught up in discerning whether or not something is cherry, has hints of cranberry, or is a tropical punch. It's just red. The enduring popularity of red drinks is a nod to two traditional red drinks—kola tea and hibiscus tea—that came to the Americas during the Atlantic Slave Trade. Red drink can take several forms, but it is often served as Kool-Aid or as a punch. firstwefeast.com
  15. 10. Chitlins Image via Yelp/Jerome G. Without a doubt, chitlins (a.k.a. chitterlings) are the most controversial choice for this list, since they are the most divisive and misunderstood item on the soul-food plate. People either love them or hate them (count me on the "love" side) because of what they are (usually pig's intestines), or because of how they smell when being cleaned, cooked, or eaten. Regardless of the intense feelings, it's undeniable that chitlins have played an important role in the soul-food story. As early as the Middle Ages, the European gentry savored venison chitlins after a successful deer hunt, and in time, the intestines of domesticated animals like cows and pigs became a food enjoyed by rich and poor folks alike. In the antebellum South, both blacks and whites on the plantation prized chitlins after a fall hog-killing. African-American migrants took a love of chitlin-eating to urban areas outside of the South, and thanks to urban butchers and slaughterhouses, chitlins became a year-around treat. 9. Black-eyed Peas Image via Adrian Miller Black-eyed peas, actually a bean, have legendary status. Though native to West Africa, most people associate black-eyed peas with New Year's Day. Millions of African Americans have borrowed and transformed an old European superstition: that you can attain good luck when someone with dark eyes is the first to knock on your door on January 1st. Though the superstition doesn't have an analog in West Africa, black-eyed peas were traditionally eaten on auspicious occasions like the birth of twins or religious days honoring certain deities. When one gets a taste of some black-eyed peas bathing in a seasoned, smoky broth, one will understand why this dish was once considered a "food for the gods." 8. Sweet Potato Pie Image via Flickr/Southern Foodways Alliance Dessert was a foreign concept in pre-colonial West Africa. Even so, sweet potato pie became a classic soul-food staple. Enslaved West Africans accustomed to a traditional diet that included tropical yams found sweet potatoes to be a useful substitute. In the beginning, the popular dessert choice was a simple whole sweet potato roasted in embers of a dying fire. First, enslaved cooks eventually added some eggs, milk, and spices to mashed sweet potatoes. Once cooked, the new culinary creation was called a sweet-potato pone. In time, a bottom crust was baked underneath the pone. Sweet potato pie has an annual showdown with pumpkin pie as the dessert of choice on Thanksgiving. It's not a problem, though: With African Americans, sweet potato pie is undefeated. firstwefeast.com
  16. Soul food prepared traditionally and consumed in large amounts can be detrimental to one's health. Opponents to soul food have been vocal about health concerns surrounding the culinary traditions since the name was coined in the mid-twentieth century. Soul food has been criticized for its high starch, fat, sodium, cholesterol, and caloric content, as well as the inexpensive and often low-quality nature of the ingredients such as salted pork and cornmeal. In light of this, soul food has been implicated by some in the disproportionately high rates of high blood pressure (hypertension), type 2 diabetes, clogged arteries (atherosclerosis), stroke, and heart attack suffered by African-Americans. Figures who led discussions surrounding the negative impacts of soul food include Dr. Alvenia Fulton, Dick Gregory, and Elijah Muhammad. On the other hand, critics and traditionalists have argued that attempts to make soul food healthier, also make it less tasty, as well as less culturally/ethnically authentic. A foundational difference in how health is perceived of being contemporary is that soul food may differ from 'traditional' styles is the widely different structures of agriculture. Fueled by federal subsidies, the agricultural system in the United States became industrialized as the nutritional value of most processed foods, and not just those implicated in a traditional perception of soul food, have degraded. This urges a consideration of how concepts of racial authenticity evolve alongside changes in the structures that make some foods more available and accessible than others. An important aspect of the preparation of soul food was the reuse of cooking lard. Because many cooks could not afford to buy new shortening to replace what they used, they would pour the liquefied cooking grease into a container. After cooling completely, the grease re-solidified and could be used again the next time the cook required lard. With changing fashions and perceptions of "healthy" eating, some cooks may use preparation methods that differ from those of cooks who came before them: using liquid oil like vegetable oil or canola oil for frying and cooking; and, using smoked turkey instead of pork, for example. Changes in hog farming techniques have also resulted in drastically leaner pork, in the 21st and late 20th centuries. Some cooks have even adapted recipes to include vegetarian alternatives to traditional ingredients, including tofu and soy-based analogues. Several of the ingredients included in soul food recipes have pronounced health benefits. Collard and other greens are rich sources of several vitamins (including vitamin A, B6, folic acid or vitamin B9, vitamin K, and C), minerals (manganese, iron, and calcium), fiber, and small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain a number of phytonutrients, which are thought to play a role in the prevention of ovarian and breast cancers. However, the traditional preparation of soul food vegetables often consists of high temperatures or slow cooking methods, which can lead to the water-soluble vitamins (e.g., Vitamin C and the B complex vitamins) to be destroyed or leached out into the water in which the greens cooked. This water is often consumed and is known as pot liquor. Peas and legumes are inexpensive sources of protein; they also contain important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. wikipedia.org
  17. Soul food originated in the southern region of the US and is consumed by African-Americans across the nation. Traditional soul food cooking is seen as one of the ways enslaved Africans passed their traditions to their descendants once they were brought to the US, and is a cultural creation stemming from slavery and Native American and European influences. Recipes considered soul food are popular in the South due to the accessibility and affordability of the ingredients, as well as the proximity that African-Americans and white Americans maintained during periods of slavery and reconstruction. Scholars have noted that while white Americans provided the material culture for soul food dishes, the cooking techniques found in many of the dishes have been visibly influenced by the enslaved Africans themselves. Dishes derived by slaves consisted of many vegetables and grains because slave owners felt more meat would cause the slave to become lethargic with less energy to tend to the crops. The bountiful vegetables that were found in Africa, were substituted in dishes down south with new leafy greens consisting of dandelion, turnip, and beet greens. Pork, more specifically Hog became introduced into several dishes in the form of cracklins from the skin, pig's feet, chitterlings, and lard used to increase the fat intake into vegetarian dishes. Spices such as thyme, and bay leaf blended with onion and garlic gave dishes their own characteristics. Figures such as LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Elijah Muhammad, and Dick Gregory played notable roles in shaping the conversation around soul food. Muhammad and Gregory opposed soul food because they felt it was unhealthy food and was slowly killing African-Americans. They saw soul food as a remnant of oppression and felt it should be left behind. Many African-Americans were offended by the Nation of Islam’s rejection of pork as it is a staple ingredient used to flavor many dishes. Stokely Carmichael also spoke out against soul food, claiming that it was not true African food due to its colonial and European influence. Despite this, many voices in the Black Power Movement saw soul food as something African-Americans should take pride in, and used it to distinguish African-Americans from white Americans. Proponents of soul food embraced the concept of it, and used it as a counterclaim to the argument that African-Americans had no culture or cuisine. The magazine Ebony Jr! was important in transmitting the cultural relevance of soul food dishes to middle-class African-American children who typically ate a more standard American diet. Soul food is frequently found at religious rituals and social events such as funerals, fellowship, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in the Black community. Soul food has been the subject of many popular culture creations such as the 1997 film, then turned television series Soul Food, as well the eponymous 1995 rap album released by Goodie Mob. In 2013, American rapper Schoolboy Q released a single titled “Collard Greens”. wikipedia.org
  18. Because it was illegal in many states for slaves to learn to read or write, soul food recipes and cooking techniques tended to be passed along orally, until after emancipation. The first soul food cookbook is attributed to Abby Fisher, entitled What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking and published in 1881. Good Things to Eat was published in 1911; the author, Rufus Estes, was a former slave who worked for the Pullman railway car service. Many other cookbooks were written by Black Americans during that time, but as they were not widely distributed, most are now lost. Since the mid-20th century, many cookbooks highlighting soul food and African-American foodways have been compiled and published. One notable soul food chef is celebrated traditional Southern chef and author Edna Lewis, who released a series of books between 1972 and 2003, including A Taste of Country Cooking in which she weaves stories of her childhood in Freetown, Virginia into her recipes for "real Southern food". Another early and influential soul food cookbook is Vertamae Grosvenor's Vibration Cooking, or the Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl, originally published in 1970, focused on South Carolina Lowcountry/Geechee/Gullah cooking. Its focus on spontaneity in the kitchen—cooking by "vibration" rather than precisely measuring ingredients, as well as "making do" with ingredients on hand—captured the essence of traditional African-American cooking techniques. The simple, healthful, basic ingredients of lowcountry cuisine, like shrimp, oysters, crab, fresh produce, rice and sweet potatoes, made it a bestseller. Usher boards and Women's Day committees of various religious congregations large and small, and even public service and social welfare organizations such as the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) have produced cookbooks to fund their operations and charitable enterprises. The NCNW produced its first cookbook, The Historical Cookbook of the American Negro, in 1958, and revived the practice in 1993, producing a popular series of cookbooks featuring recipes by famous Black Americans, among them: The Black Family Reunion Cookbook (1991), Celebrating Our Mothers' Kitchens: Treasured Memories and Tested Recipes (1994), and Mother Africa's Table: A Chronicle of Celebration (1998). The NCNW also recently reissued The Historical Cookbook. wikipedia.org
  19. Scholars have noted the substantial African influence found in soul food recipes, especially from the West and Central regions of Africa. This influence can be seen through the heat level of many soul food dishes, as well as many ingredients found within them. Peppers used to add spice to food included malagueta pepper, as well as peppers native to the western hemisphere such as red (cayenne) peppers. Several foods that are essential in southern cuisine and soul food were domesticated or consumed in the African savanna and the tropical regions of West and Central Africa. These include pigeon peas, black-eyed peas, many leafy greens, and sorghum. It has also been noted that a species of rice was domesticated in Africa, thus many Africans who were brought to the Americas kept their knowledge for rice cooking. Rice is a staple side dish in soul food and is the center of dishes such as red beans and rice. There are many documented parallels between the foodways of West Africans and soul food recipes. The consumption of sweet potatoes in the US is reminiscent of the consumption of yams in West Africa. The frequent consumption of cornbread by African-Americans is analogous to West Africans' use of fufu to soak up stews. West Africans also cooked meat over open pits, and thus it is possible that enslaved Africans came to the New World with knowledge of this cooking technique (it is also possible they learned it from Native Americans, since Native Americans barbecued as a cooking technique). Researchers state that many tribes in Africa utilized a vegetarian/plant based diet because of its simplicity which most African dishes are based upon. This included the way food was prepared as well as served. It was not uncommon to see food served out of an empty gourd. Many techniques to change the overall flavor of staple food items such as nuts, seeds, and rice contributed to added dimensions of evolving flavors. These techniques included roasting, frying with palm oil, baking in ashes, and steaming in leaves such as banana leaf. wikipedia.org
  20. Southern Native American culture (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole) is an important element of Southern cuisine. From their cultures came one of the main staples of the Southern diet: corn (maize) – either ground into meal or limed with an alkaline salt to make hominy, in a Native American process known as nixtamalization. Corn was used to make all kinds of dishes, from the familiar cornbread and grits, to liquors such as moonshine and whiskey (which are still important to the Southern economy). Many fruits are available in this region: blackberries, muscadines, raspberries, and many other wild berries were part of Southern Native Americans' diets, as well. African, European, and Native Americans of the American South supplemented their diets with meats derived from the hunting of native game. What meats people ate depended on seasonal availability and geographical region. Common game included opossums, rabbits, and squirrels. Livestock, adopted from Europeans, in the form of cattle and hogs, were kept. When game or livestock was killed, the entire animal was used. Aside from the meat, it was common for them to eat organ meats such as brains, livers, and intestines. This tradition remains today in hallmark dishes like chitterlings (commonly called chit'lins), which are fried small intestines of hogs; livermush (a common dish in the Carolinas made from hog liver); and pork brains and eggs. The fat of the animals, particularly hogs, was rendered and used for cooking and frying. Many of the early European settlers in the South learned Native American cooking methods, and so cultural diffusion was set in motion for the Southern dish. wikipedia.org
  21. The term soul food became popular in the 1960s and 1970s in the midst of the Black Power movement. One of the earliest written uses of the term is found in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which was published in 1965. LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) published an article entitled "Soul Food" and was one of the key proponents for establishing the food as a part of the Black American identity. Those who had participated in the Great Migration found within soul food a reminder of the home and family they had left behind after moving to unfamiliar northern cities. Soul food restaurants were Black-owned businesses that served as neighborhood meeting places where people socialized and ate together. The origins of recipes considered soul food can be traced back to before slavery, as African (Mostly West African) and European (Mostly British) foodways were adapted to the environment of the region. Many of the foods integral to the cuisine originate from the limited rations given to slaves by their planters and masters. Slaves were typically given a peck of cornmeal and 3-4 pounds of pork per week, and from those rations come soul food staples such as cornbread, fried catfish, barbecued ribs, chitterlings, and neckbones. It has been noted that enslaved Africans were the primary consumers of cooked greens (collards, beets, dandelion, kale, and purslane) and sweet potatoes for a portion of US history. Slaves needed to eat foods with high amounts of calories to balance out spending long days working in the fields. This led to time-honored soul food traditions like frying foods, breading meats and fishes with cornmeal, and mixing meats with vegetables (e.g. putting pork in collard greens). Eventually, this slave-invented style of cooking started to get adopted into larger Southern culture, as slave owners gave special privileges to slaves with cooking skills. Impoverished whites and blacks in the South cooked many of the same dishes stemming from the soul tradition, but styles of preparation sometimes varied. Certain techniques popular in soul and Southern cuisines (i.e., frying meat and using all parts of the animal for consumption) are shared with ancient cultures all over the world, including China, Egypt, and Rome. Introduction of soul food to northern cities such as Washington D.C. also came from private chefs in the White House. Many American Presidents have desired French cooking, and have sought after black chefs given their Creole background. The 23rd President of the United States Benjamin Harrison, and former first lady Caroline Harrison, took this same route when they terminated their French cooking staff for a black woman by the name of Dolly Johnson. One famous relationship includes the bond formed between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Zephyr Wright. Wright became a great influence to Johnson in fighting for civil rights as he saw her treatment and segregation as they would travel throughout the south. Johnson even had Wright present at the signing of several civil rights laws. Lizzie McDuffie,a former maid and cook to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, assisted her boss during the 1936 election simply by making the president more relatable to black voters. With public awareness of black Americans preparing food in the presidential kitchen, this in turn helped to sway minority votes for hopeful presidential candidates such as, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. wikipedia.org
  22. Soul food is an ethnic cuisine traditionally prepared and eaten by African Americans in the Southern United States. The cuisine originated with the foods that were given to enslaved West Africans on southern plantations during the American colonial period; however, it was strongly influenced by the traditional practices of West Africans and Native Americans from its inception. Due to the historical presence of African Americans in the region, soul food is closely associated with the cuisine of the American South although today it has become an easily-identifiable and celebrated aspect of mainstream American food culture. The expression "soul food" originated in the mid-1960s, when "soul" was a common word used to describe African American culture. wikipedia.org
  23. 23. DON'T CALL US DEAD // DANEZ SMITH Don’t Call Us Dead is a cathartic series of poems that imagine an afterlife where black men can fully be themselves. Danez Smith's poignant words take heartbreaking imagery of violence against the bodies of black men and juxtapose it with scenes of a new plane, one that is much better than the existence those men lived before. Upon arrival, it's a celebration, as men and boys are embraced by their fellow brothers and are able to truly experience being "alive." Smith's prose sticks, and you will think more deeply about the delicacy of life and death long after you've put the book back on the shelf. 24. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD // COLSON WHITEHEAD Colson Whitehead brings a bit of fantasy to historical fiction in his 2016 novel The Underground Railroad. Historically, the underground railroad was a network of safe houses for runaways on their journey to reaching the freed states. But Whitehead invents a literal secret underground railroad with real tracks and trains in his novel. This system takes his main character, Cora, a woman who escaped a Georgia plantation, to different states and stops. Along her journey, she faces a new set of horrific hurdles that could hold her back from obtaining her freedom. 25. DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS // WALTER MOSLEY If you're into mystery but don't know Walter Mosley, it's time to catch up. The crime-fiction author has published more than 40 books, with his Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins series being his most popular. Mosley's 1990 debut (and Easy's debut as well) Devil in a Blue Dress takes the reader to 1940s Watts, a Los Angeles neighborhood where Easy has recently relocated after losing his job in Houston. He finds a new line of work as a detective when a man at a bar wants him to track down a woman named Daphne Monet, kicking off a career that will span 14 novels (and counting). mentalfloss.com
  24. 20. THE HATE U GIVE // ANGIE THOMAS Angie Thomas is part of a new crop of African-American authors bringing fresh new storytelling to bookshelves near you. Her 2017 debut young adult novel, The Hate U Give, was inspired by the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. It follows Starr Carter, a 16-year-old who has witnessed the police-involved shooting of her best friend Khalil. The book, which topped the New York Times bestseller chart, is a timely fictional tale that humanizes the voices behind one of the largest movements of present times. 21. NOT WITHOUT LAUGHTER // LANGSTON HUGHES Take it back to where Harlem Renaissance legend Langston Hughes began his novelistic bibliography. In 1930's Not Without Laughter, Sandy Rogers is an African-American boy growing up in Kansas during the early 1900s—a story loosely based on Hughes's own experiences living in Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas. Hughes vividly paints his characters based on the "typical Negro family in the Middle West" he grew up around, he explained in his autobiography The Big Sea. In this way, Hughes paved the way for more storytelling about black life outside of urban, big city settings. 22. SALVAGE THE BONES // JESMYN WARD Jesmyn Ward's 2011 novel Salvage the Bones merges fiction with her real life experience surviving Hurricane Katrina as a native of rural Mississippi. Ward tells a new story through the eyes of Esch, a pregnant teenage girl who lives in poverty with her three brothers and a father who is battling alcoholism in a fictional town called Bois Sauvage. Through this National Book Award-winning tale, Ward writes an emotionally intense and deep account about a family who must find a way to overcome differences and stick together to survive the passing storm. mentalfloss.com
  25. 17. I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS // MAYA ANGELOU If you're going to read anything by the late, great, prophetic poet Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings should be at the top of your list. It provides an in-depth look at the obstacles that shaped her early life. Angelou's childhood and teenage years were nomadic, as her separated parents moved her and her brother from rural Arkansas to St. Louis, Missouri, and eventually to California, where at different times she lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. Besides the blatant racism she saw unfold around her in the South, a young Maya also faced childhood rape, and as a teen, homelessness and pregnancy. After its release in 1969, Angelou, who was initially reluctant to write the book, became the first African-American woman to have a nonfiction bestseller. 18. BABEL-17 // SAMUEL R. DELANY In 2015, Samuel R. Delany told The Nation that when he first began attending science fiction conferences in the 1960s, he was one of only a few black writers and enthusiasts present. Over the years, with his contributions and the work of others like Octavia Butler—whom he mentored—he opened doors for black writers in the genre. If you're looking for a sci-fi thriller taking place in space and centering a woman leader protagonist, Delany's 1967 Nebula Award-winning Babel-17 is the one. Rydra Wong, a spaceship captain, is intrigued by a mysterious language called Babel-17 that has the power to alter a person's perception of themselves and others, and possibly brainwash her to betray her government. 19. SPLAY ANTHEM // NATHANIEL MACKEY Readers of Nathaniel Mackey's poetry are often intrigued by his ability to merge the worlds of music (particularly jazz) and poetry to create soul-grabbing rhythmic prose. Splay Anthem is a masterful work exhibiting his style. The 2006 collection includes two poems Mackey had been writing for more than 20 years: "Song of the Andoumboulou," about a ritual funeral song from the Dogon people of modern-day Mali; and "Mu." Splay Anthem is woven into three sections, "Braid," "Fray," and "Nub," in which two characters travel through space and time and whose final destinations are unclear. Mackey's nonlinear form is deliberate: "There's a lot of emphasis on movement in the poems, and there's a lot of questions about ultimate arrival, about whether there is such a state or place," he said in A Community Writing Itself: Conversations with Vanguard Writers of the Bay Area. mentalfloss.com
  26. 14. BROWN GIRL DREAMING // JACQUELINE WOODSON Jacqueline Woodson's children's books and YA novels are inspired by her desire to highlight the lives of communities of color—narratives she felt were missing from the literary landscape. In her 2014 National Book Award-winning autobiography, Brown Girl Dreaming, Woodson uses her own childhood story in verse form to fill those voids in representation. The author came of age during the Civil Rights Movement and, subsequently, the Black Power Movement, and lived between the laid-back lifestyle of South Carolina and the fast-paced New York City. Through her work, we are reminded of how family and community play a role in helping individuals persevere through life's trials. 15. REDEFINING REALNESS: MY PATH TO WOMANHOOD, IDENTITY, LOVE & SO MUCH MORE // JANET MOCK Janet Mock, an African-American and native Hawaiian transgender activist and writer, began her career in media as a staff editor at People. In 2011, Mock decided to share her story with the world and came out as a transgender woman in a Marie Claire article. She released this New York Times bestselling memoir in 2014. Mock has used her platform to speak in full about her upbringing as a person of color in poverty and her transgender identity. 16. FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES // CHARLES M. BLOW In his 2014 memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow opens up about growing up in a segregated Louisiana town during the 1970s as the youngest of five brothers. In 12 chapters, Blow offers an extensive look at his path to overcoming poverty, the trauma of being a victim of childhood rape, and his gradual understanding of his bisexuality. Although these are hard truths to tell, as Blow told NPR in 2014, he wrote this book especially for those who are going through similar experiences and need to know their lives are still worth living despite painful circumstances. mentalfloss.com
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