Real Ballers Read
By Jan and Miles Menafee
Real Ballers ReadDec 04, 2023
87. The Future of Technology with Jadal Williams
In this episode, we talked with our friend, Jadal Williams, a genius studying robotics for his PhD at MIT. He just came back from an exciting trip abroad where he got to see the future of robotic technology and we talked about what this future may hold for all of us...
86. When Black Boys Become Black Men with Donta
We sat down with the man, myth, and legend—Donta from the popular community, Gold Mouf Book Club. Through the lens of Richard Wright's memoir Black Boy, we talk about what it means to truly be radical now in 2023, the role of religion in the Black community, the power of anger, and what it means to be a Black man. You'll really enjoy getting to know Donta!
85. The Intimacy of Audiobooks with Forrest Evans
In this episode, our first-ever guest on the show, Forrest Evans, returns!! Forrest brought the heat with talking about the intimate potential of audiobooks, observing what parts of herself she's been exploring in her reading recently, and demonstrating what it means to be a leader as a librarian in this era of censorship and book bans.
84. Revolutionized Relationships with Mechiya Jamison
In this part 2 episode, we talked with Mechiya about the all the ins and outs of relationships: having emotional intelligence, processing hurt, dating, gender norms in the Black community, and friendship.
83. Revolutionized Learning with Mechiya Jamison
We got to sit in person with the one and only Mechiya Jamison to talk about one of her favorite books, Assata. We talked about many aspects of liberation: organizing, education, our environment, class consciousness, climate, gender, and even the role of shame.
82. Forget the Alamo with Travis Green and Jason Stanford
In this episode, we talk with Real Ballers Read legend Travis Green and his friend and co-author of the book, Forget the Alamo, Jason Stanford. We talk about the truth and myth of the Alamo, how foundational it is to Texas history, the difference between history and historiography, and how the Alamo is still relevant to this day.
History buffs, Texans, or Texan history buffs, this episode is for you!!
81. Embracing the Sublime with Seanathan Polidore
In this episode, we are joined by the one and only Sean P! We talk about how he discovered his love of reading through the Navy, finding the positive in everything you read, coping with grief, and the golden age of Hip-Hop. Seanathan is a multi-talented autodidact who you'll love getting to know as much as we did! Welcome to the Sean P. Experience X Real Ballers Read...
80. The Epic Story of The Black Fives with Claude Johnson
In this episode, we talk with Claude Johnson, the author of the triumphant 2022 book, The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball's Forgotten Era. We discussed his world-spanning childhood, the incredible decades-long journey of writing his book, fatherhood, and the future of basketball. All fans of history and sports will love this one!
79. Art, Science, and Liberation with Delia West
Delia West is an art teacher and scientist who's thinking in revolutionary ways. In this episode, we talk with her about one of her favorite books, The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, how she got back into reading, her deep passion for all things science, and what liberation looks like for her!
78. Being Original with Chinelo Ikem
It might seem increasingly difficult to be original in these times, but Chinelo proves that to be original all you really have to be is honest. In this fun conversation, we talk about our sense of fashion, fantasy novels, and the nuance of everything we've been reading recently. We know you'll love this episode.
77. Soul Food with Onyi Ozoma
In this episode, we talk with a friend of ours, Onyi Ozoma, about a collage of different topics, including adjusting into adult life, Toni Morrison's Beloved, new music we've been enjoying, and what it possibly means to be a lost soul.
This conversation was soul food for us, without the subsequent itis.
76. Why Willie Mae Thornton Matters with Lynnée Denise
Lynnée Denise filled the silence of her pandemic with the rich sounds and legacy of Willie Mae Thorton. The outcome of that deep listening, reading, and viewing practice is Lynnée's amazing new book, Why Willie Mae Thornton Matters.
In this interview, she talks about her interdisciplinary and interdependent approach to writing her book, how she came to love reading, and where she sees the legacy of Willie Mae Thornton today.
75. The Importance of the Black Working Class with Dr. Blair LM Kelley
In this episode, we talk with Dr. Blair LM Kelley, an award-winning historian, professor, and writer about her recent book, Black Folk.
We talked about how she made the study of history her own, how she thinks about progress in the Black community, her gratitude to Toni Morrison, and on whether Beyonce's "Break My Soul" is a Black working class anthem.
And we shared a lot of laughs along the way!
74. American Whitelash with Wesley Lowery
Our guest today is an incredible reporter and journalist—Wesley Lowery.
In this episode we talk with him about his recently released book, American Whitelash, and how he approaches his writing.
73. The New Black Aesthetic with Trey Ellis
Our guest today is a true writer's writer - novelist, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter Trey Ellis!
Trey Ellis is the author of four books and is currently a professor at Columbia University. In this episode we talk with him about his early inspiration as a reader and writer, the New Black Aesthetic and more.
72. From Precocious to the Pulitzer with Dr. Marcia Chatelain
Dr. Marcia Chatelain is a professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University and the author of two books: South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration, and the Pulitzer Prize winning Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America.
In this episode, we first learn from Dr. Chatelain about her upbringing in Chicago - all the books she could get her hands on, and all the McDonald's she could enjoy. Although Super Size Me convinced her to give up the Golden Arches for good in 2005, her explorations of gender, race, and capitalism in American history inspired her instant classic book about McDonald's years later.
Class is in session with Dr. Chatelain as she shares insights on the changing landscape of Black America!
71. On Our Resilience and Brilliance with Dr. Daniel Black
Dr. Daniel Black is a professor of African American Studies at Clark Atlanta University and the author of seven novels and the new collection of essays, Black on Black: On Our Resilience and Brilliance in America.
In this episode featuring him and two of his friends, Dr. Black brought us to church, brought us to the water, and brought us home to ourselves. Our conversation spans from his experiences as a young reader, to queerness and double consciousness, the problem of Black self-hatred, and naming yourself as an act of love.
Dr. Black is a dynamic speaker and thinker which makes for an incredibly exciting interview!
70. The Color of Science with Dr. Frederic Bertley
Dr. Frederic Bertley is an Emmy-Award-winning science educator and immunologist from Montreal, Canada. He currently serves as the president of the nation's #1 science museum, COSI (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus, Ohio.
In this episode, we talk with Dr. Bertley about how he came to love reading, how he fell in love with science, and ask him all sorts of fun questions about science!!
Dr. Bertley is a one-of-a-kind guest that brought his incredible energy and intelligence to our show and we know you'll love this episode!
69. Race Matters: Talking About Cornel West's Classic
This April was the 30th anniversary of Race Matters by Cornel West. It's a great book that I wanted to just sit on the couch to talk to y'all about!
Highly recommend reading through the book if you haven't, it's not as academic as it may seem.
:40 How I found the book
1:39 A little context for the book
4:33 Nihilism in Black America
6:32 What does hope mean to you?
10:45 Marvin Gaye Interview
14:46 Those darn market forces!
16:27 “The Crisis of Black Leadership”
19:30 The three types of leaders
23:46 BLM and the Obama Era
68. The Unexpected and Fun History of "Simple" with Dr. Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper
In this episode, we were honored to talk with educator, teacher and writer extraordinaire, Dr. Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper. She taught at Spelman for 32 years and was the Fuller E. Calloway Professor of English. She is also a world renowned expert on Langston Hughes and his Simple stories.
We talked about her longtime love and scholarship of Langston Hughes, the story of how Simple came to be, and the legacy of the stories today. Dr. Harper shares so many awesome stories and we shared many laughs! It was so great to talk about Simple for the third time and y’all better start reading these stories after this one!
1:12 When Dr. Harper was first introduced to Langston Hughes
4:08 Dr. Harper’s relationship with her professor
7:02 Her undergraduate thesis on Langston Hughes
10:19 How her classes on Langston Hughes changed over time
19:32 How Langston Hughes wrote about women
22:52 “The Need for Heroes”
26:12 The Origin Story for the character of Simple
30:01 Black literacy and the Black press in Langston Hughes’ time
35:41 People thought Simple was a real person!
38:35 Dr. Harper’s 3 favorite Simple Stories
43:46 What makes Simple so relevant?
48:27 Why do many people still not know Simple?
49:23 The Danny Glover Story
55:23 Looking for Langston and Langston Hughes’ sexuality
1:02 The Boondocks comparison to Simple
1:04 The Importance of Laughter
1:06 Further reading for Langston Hughes
67. How and Why to Start a Podcast
We don't know everything about podcasting, but we do know that it's one of the most fun and fulfilling things we've ever done. Everyone who enjoys listening to podcasts should at least *consider* producing one because it's a great opportunity for personal growth and community-building. Here in this episode, Jan shares some of the origin story of Real Ballers Read, and offers 5 simple steps to starting your own.
66. The Tale of Two Magazine Covers: Discussing Black Men in Popular Media
So in the last couple of weeks there was a small controversy on Twitter about two magazine covers, one with Jonathan Majors and another with ASAP Rocky and Rihanna. The controversy was over whether or not there is an agenda to effeminize Black men in popular media.
In this episode, I wanted to talk about to two writers who had a similar debate before—Frances Cress Welsing and Essex Hemphill.
65. Continuing Our Exploration of "Simple" with Uncle Chris
Real Ballers Read returns to Langston Hughes’s legendary but long-forgotten character, Jess B. Semple in this week’s podcast episode! This time with our hilarious and brilliant Uncle Chris “CockaRue” Wesson.
Last summer, Uncle Chris asked if we knew Jess B. Semple and his favorite book series Simple Speaks His Mind, Simple Takes A Wife, and Simple Stakes A Claim.
We had never heard of Simple, or even knew that Langston Hughes wrote more than poetry. But today we share our conversation with Uncle Chris, where he tells the story of how Simple turned him into a lifelong reader and relatable storyteller.
This episode is full of laughs and wisdom, just like the Simple stories, so make sure to check it out this weekend wherever you listen to podcasts!
1:03 Chris’ backstory
2:30 Chris’ story of how he lost and found his love of reading
6:21 The Basketball Diaries
8:39 Bobby Seale
10:00 Discovering Langston Hughes
12:39 Buying his first copy of Simple
15:39 Miles and Jan’s favorite Simple stories
18:17 The story of Chris’ name
18:40 Simple: The American Folk Tale in Real Life
20:49 Look at my feet
22:54 Reading from “Feet Have a Life of Their Own”
25:12 The Bars Simple drank in vs. now
28:06 Simple, Politics and American History
32:25 “Dig and be dug”
33:19 Richard Pryor and Mudbone
35:06 When you run into the random cousin 😂
39:00 Reading “The Word from Town & Country”
46:59 How Langston Hughes impacted a career change for Chris
51:06 The Poet of the People
56:25 Gifting his love of Simple
64. We Are The Trayvon Generation
This week is dedicated to all the young Black people who’ve grown up in the Trayvon Generation.
Elizabeth Alexander’s essay and book of the same name guide this week’s episode about what it’s like living in times of anti-Black violence and not-guilty verdicts.
We share how February 26, 2012 changed everything for us as Black boys, and ushered in a decade of constant fear, anger and cynicism. We address the struggles to better define what freedom might mean, with the help of many of our favorite books.
Check out Growing Up in the Trayvon Generation this weekend anywhere you listen to podcasts. 1:37 Introducing the Trayvon Generation
2:57 What we remember from 2012
6:21 The Timeline of the Justice system
8:20 The medium in which we hear the news
9:21 Respectability politics
15:38 Becoming Disillusioned with politics
20:40 Turning away from social media
25:58 What does it mean to be free black man?
30:00 The Story of Herman Wallace
33:08 Finding freedom in prison?
36:50 What is freedom really?
40:00 Other books that come to mind
44:00 Time traveling to 1919
47:37 Surprise and Connectedness
63. Who is Simple?? Talking About Langston Hughes' Beloved Character
“Usually over a glass of beer, he tells me his tales, mostly in high humor, but sometimes with a pain in his soul as sharp as the occasional hurt of that bunion on his right foot.”
~ Langston Hughes, 1961
Who is Simple???
For this week’s episode of Real Ballers Read, we introduce you to one of Langston Hughes’s most hilarious and lesser known characters: Jess B. Semple, nicknamed “Simple”.
Simple and his stories are a celebration of many of the black folks that Hughes encountered in Harlem. Through short dialogues between himself and Simple, Hughes brings readers’ attention to the humor, rhythm and blues of everyday Black life.
We’ve been laughing and learning so much along the way of reading Hughes’s Simple stories, and we’re excited to share that with you this Black History Month. Podcast dropping today everywhere you listen!
:40 Miles’ trip to Ghana
6:15 Jan’s trip to DC
8:15 Jan Claiming Author Status
15:07 Langston Hughes’ explanation of Simple
20:29 How People Talked then vs Now
22:39 Internet Culture and Attention Spans
29:06 “Temptation” by Langston Hughes
34:31 The importance of rhyming
62. The Spook Who Sat By The Door
In this episode, Miles talks about The Spook Who Sat By The Door by Sam Greenlee. He reads a short passage from the book, talks about the questions it raises and the book's influence on Nipsey Hussle.
61. The Weight of Wellness with Akili Nzuri
“Are you sure, sweetheart you want to be well? …Cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.” Toni Cade Bambara opens her novel The Salt Eaters with these lines - questioning both the protagonist AND the reader to decide if they want to take on the weight of wellness. Reading this book is unlike any other reading experience we’ve had. It feels like trudging through mud, and in this episode Akili assures us that that means that The Salt Eaters is working!?!? Akili shows us, and all our listeners, what it means to be a smart Black man, as he makes one of the hardest books ever look easy, and hits on the many interesting points listed below:
1:35 The Story Behind Akili’s names
6:41 Listening to only jazz for a year
9:25 Akili’s reading journey
12:04 What it means to be a smart Black man
15:44 “When you want something, you have to go after it”
19:35 Trudging through mud with the Salt Eaters
20:46 Taking the Wakanda Leaf to the Ancestral plane
24:51 Who is the main character? What’s going on?
26:33 How the Salt Eaters deepened Akili’s understanding of wellness
31:52 How Akili would teach The Salt Eaters
37:30 Toni Cade Bambara’s legacy
40:02 The Character of the South in the book
45:43 Akili’s time as a rapper
48:30 30 minute freestyles
53:17 It’s not hard to be smart for 60 minutes
60. Fascinated to Presume: Zadie Smith's Powerful Essay on Fiction
“I have closed novels and stared at their back covers for a long moment and felt known in a way I cannot honestly say I have felt known by many real-life interactions with human beings, or even by myself.” ~ Zadie Smith On this week’s episode of Real Ballers Read, we dive into one of the most thought-provoking essays by the brilliant Zadie Smith, “Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction”. Here’s a fun contribution to the conversation started by @booksarepopculture on Black bookstagram’s preference for fiction or nonfiction. What’s your go-to genre?? The bros got a whole *concept map* of all the connections we made to Zadie Smith’s essay. This was a fun conversation that somehow covered bell hooks, Toni Morrison, Captain Underpants and the new culture wars in the same episode. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts. . . .
2:57 The Story Behind this episode
7:42 The first paragraph of “Fascinated to Presume”
9:24 Having fluid or “inconsistent” personalities
10:56 Ways we’ve felt more secure
12:26 Relating to fictional characters
13:34 To Kill A Mockingbird
16:05 Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine
19:36 Feeling seen by people vs. books
21:52 What happens to people when the news cameras leave?
23:47 The Dance of Human Interaction and its absence in reading
26:27 Trick Mirror
28:16 The Potential for Radical Change
32:44 American Dirt
38:02 Is it irresponsible to write from someone else’s point of view?
42:10 What does harm mean in a literary sense?
46:41 Trigger warnings at the start of books?
47:31 Sisters of the Yam by bell hooks
52:18 Stanley Crouch
54:16 John Howard Griffin and Black Like Me
55:45 Limits of empathy
57:38 The illusion of the self
59:30 Reading as a writer vs. as a casual reader
1:01 Consumerism as an identity
1:06 The Reader decides to believe or not
1:07 What we want from good fiction
1:14 Difference between acting and writing
1:16 Cultural Appropriation as a verbal container
1:23 Does this essay convince us to read more classics?
1:31 Hector Abad quote
59. Poetry is Not A Luxury with Dr. Eve L. Ewing
We talked with Dr. Ewing about the power and problems of reading, why the way we frame education matters, and the two Audre Lorde essays that Dr. Ewing is constantly learning from: “Poetry is Not a Luxury” and “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action.”
We’ve been dreaming to host Dr. Ewing on our podcast since Day 1 because of her incredible artistry, scholarship and organizing. We look up to her as a Chicago writer (in the traditions of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sandra Cisneros) and could not be more excited to share our interview with you today. 1:37 Eve’s powerful quote from Black Futures
2:29 Eve’s journey with reading
3:21 The fugitive element of children’s inner lives
5:12 The different performances of intelligence
7:36 Black people were forbidden from reading and writing
9:24 The difference between school and education
9:55 The Crazy Story of How Frederick Douglass Learned to Read
13:44 Knowledge Systems… Western and Non-Western
18:02 Eve’s Analysis of U.S. Education in Four Frames
18:38 1. The presumption of competition
21:29 2. Compulsion
22:51 Chicago teachers COVID strike
24:48 Culturally responsive pedagogy
25:19 Eve’s visit to a school on the Yurok Reservation
28:02 One of Eve’s favorite memories teaching
29:30 Ableism and different ways of accessing knowledge
32:59 Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider
34:07 The importance of rereading and continuous learning
35:17 Read popular quotes in CONTEXT!
36:00 The kind of writer Eve wants to be
37:22 Passage from “Poetry is Not a Luxury”
42:08 Why you should buy books!
43:51 Passage from “Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”
58. Lessons from Michael Jordan for 2023
"Teamwork and intelligence wins championships." In this episode, we talk about Michael Jordan's 1994 book, I Can't Accept Not Trying and what we can learn from his mindset in trying to accomplish our own goals in 2023.
1:43 Story behind the book
2:44 I Can’t Accept Not Trying… what does that mean?
4:27 Why are people afraid of failure?
5:32 Difference between faith and hope
7:19 Why people listen to athletes
14:13 The teams around Michael Jordan
19:28 Fear is an illusion
23:30 What success looks like for Jan
27:06 What success looks like for Miles
57. Why It's Important for Black Men to Read
In this episode, we talk about why it's important for Black men to read! This is a topic we've been thinking about for a long time and want continue thinking and talking about with others. Let us know your thoughts and questions!
:32 Why is it important for Black men to read?
:49 Reading as a practice of listening
3:39 The Fear of not being heard
6:22 Why Reading has so many positive side effects
9:30 Miles’ general theory for the difference between why Black Men and Black Women read
11:23 Stereotypes of Black men talking about Black men
17:15 Topics and Issues Around Black men that must be addressed
17:15 Our relationship with ourselves
18:07 Our relationship with Black women
19:01 Our relationship with the queer community
20:17 The education system
24: 46 Our journey with Real Ballers Read
28:20 Owning who we are
56. 2022, A Year in Review!
In this episode, Jan and Miles reflect on their year of reading! They talk about their favorite books, reflect on how reading fit into their lives and think ahead to what they are excited about reading in 2023.
1:09 Miles’ reflection on his year in reading
5:08 Year of Moving
6:33 Jan’s reflection on his year of reading
11:13 Jan’s pace of reading
12:45 Jan’s Year of Poetry and Plays in 2023
15:02 Miles Intention for 2023
17:24 The Library
55. Watering Whole with Jan Ellis Menafee
Y'all - Jan’s first book is coming out this weekend!! It’s a Happy Birthday Pub Day for my bro!! Watering Whole is a chapbook of poems that are inspired by Jan’s personal and cultural relationship with water. Jan has studied water through the lens of Black art and history, environmental justice, technology and spirituality, and his insights all come to the surface in this incredible collection. You will come away from this book with a newfound perspective and appreciation for the all-life-giving source that is water! In this week’s podcast episode, Jan details his story with water, the challenges and lessons learned from writing, and why he’s excited about publishing the book. He also reads three of his poems!! You can order your copy of Watering Whole below starting tomorrow Saturday, December 17th. Buy Watering Whole Here
1:46 How Jan’s describes his new book Watering Whole
3:59 A Site of Trauma, a Site of Transcendence
4:59 Jan’s first real memory with water
7:10 “Blessing from the Big Blue Bay” - poetry reading
8:20 Music’s influence on Jan’s poetry
9:10 Meeting Jacqueline Woodson
10:57 Toni Morrison’s Beloved
12:08 “The Way of My Beloved”- poetry reading
14:53 Water hollows the stone
15:30 Bruce Lee
18:55 The consequence of changing our relationship to water
19:36 Objectifying water
22:14 “Our Choice”- poetry reading
24:35 “For the Mountains On My Shoulders”
25:55 The story of how the book came together
31:45 Publishing is a team sport
33:27 How you can get a copy
54. Seeing a Sermon in Action with Daniel Cast
Because sometimes somebody can give a sermon through words that subtly, yet significantly, respects our humanity. And sometimes somebody can give a sermon without saying a word.
Our newest guest on the Real Ballers Read podcast is one of our favorite bookstagrammers and low-key authors - Daniel Cast!!
We’ve been vibing with his reflections and recommendations for more than a minute, so it was great to finally chop it up with Daniel about The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, why art is alive, his love of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and more.
Daniel is dope and definitely somebody for everybody to watch out for and listen to. Check out the full run down of the episode below and tune in this weekend wherever you listen to podcasts!
And hey - who else out here is a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos fan??
0:48 A note on Daniel’s incredible captions
3:02 How Daniel found the Undocumented Americans
5:17 Everyone has a story
7:05 Black and brown bodies
8:00 How Daniel relates to the book
11:16 Seeing a sermon in action
14:15 How Daniel expresses himself through writing
16:05 What is so important about language?
18:13 Music is alive
22:54 Songwriters that Daniel loves
24:29 Writers that Daniel loves
28:21 Telling stories in very little words
29:53 Album transitions
31:53 How Daniel approaches his book reviews
34:56 The difference between LA people and Compton people
39:52 Daniel’s journey to being a multi-creative
42:46 Daniel’s crazy hilarious snacks story
46:10 Flamin’ Hot Cheetos’ origin story
47:43 How Daniel describes his writing
50:28 The story behind Daniel’s book
53. Portrait of A Young Black Artist on Fire with Vera Grace Menafee
“The word art does not encompass the full meaning of the word”
For this week’s episode of Real Ballers Read, we interviewed our sister Vera Grace (they/she), who is easily the wisest, coolest, and most creative person we know!!
Vera just returned from a life-changing trip to Namibia and Southern Africa, where they deepened their study of Black agricultural practices. We had an awesome time catching up and getting to reflect on her experiences together.
It’s amazing how we can know our sister our entire lives, and still learn so much about them and from them in this episode.
She so fluently expresses their relationships to urban farming, dance, poetry and critical writing, movies, music, education, traveling, and our grandmother that she’s named after yet never got to physically meet.
Vera’s our younger sister and our biggest inspiration. We look up to her in so many ways and it was a huge honor to have them on the show. Every one of her answers left us speechless, so we’re sure you’ll love listening to this episode as much as we did.
0:56 Vera’s love of movies
1:43 Being a slow reader
2:03 The Influence of maya Angelou
3:56 Vera’s favorite movie
5:48 Vera’s favorite movie scores
7:05 The Meaning of Art
7:34 Art and Dance
9:04 When Vera Started to Love Dance
12:31 Vera’s story with writing
13:53 Being the Only Black Student in a Class
16:09 Poetry is not a luxury!
20:33 Vera’s connection to her grandmother
22:32 A ❤️ Story from a Research Presentation
24:53 Story of our Grandmother
29:21 The Origin story of Vera’s research project
35:56 Her approach to research and relationship to academia
40:42 Organizing around dreams and visions
45:38 Traveling to Africa for the first time
50:45 The Connection Between African Americans and people from South Africa
58:15 The Welcoming garden in Cape Town
1:03:57 You can’t describe African concepts in English vernacular
1:09:48 Everyone should go to Africa
1:11:18 Wakanda Forever
1:14:00 What are African-Americans like?
1:16:53 Solidarity between Africa and the Diaspora
1:21:15 Vera’s relationship with bell hooks
1:26:17 Writers who talk like they write
1:29:31 What Vera is dreaming about
1:36:26 What has been bringing Vera joy
52. Celebrating Black Women for Who They Are with Shanita Hubbard
In this episode, we talk with Shanita Hubbard, the author of the new book Ride or Die: A Feminist Manifesto for the Well-Being of Black Women. We had an awesome time hearing from Shanita about her journey writing Ride or Die, why we must stop imposing and glorifying a Ride or Die mentality on Black women, how she's growing as a parent, her favorite hip-hop artists and more. This is an incredible book and an incredible episode! You'll love it as much as we did.
0:00 Shanita Hubbard Intro!
2:21 The Black community’s response to Shanita’s book
3:55 bell hooks’ legacy
6:05 What is a Ride or Die?
12:39 Shanita’s Story with the term
15:51 What Shanita felt writing the book
22:20 The Cost of the Ride or Die mentality
27:25 Shanita’s relationship with hip-hop now
30:43 F-R-E-E F.N.F
33:34 Sexual Freedom and Patriarchy
36:58 What Shanita has learned as a parent
44:36 Praising Black women without dehumanizing them
46:46 What Restorative Justice can look on a community level
52:12 Shanita’s Top 5 (SPECIAL EDITION)
59:40 Future Top 5 entries from new rappers
1:09:41 Anti-Blackness disguised as fandom
1:13:46 The Uses of Anger for Shanita
1:17:44 Shanita’s Book Recs
51. Dreaming Big with Anthony Ireland
:46 What Anthony has been up to recently
1:43 Anthony’s non-profit
3:07 Why Anthony Pursued Basketball in the first place
4:23 What kept Anthony in the game
5:14 What LMU was like
6:44 What he learned from being there
7:32 Anthony’s journey with reading
11:00 DREAM BIG
12:45 Transitioning from college to Pro in Europe
15:00 Favorite memory from Europe
16:03 Crazy European Fans
18:06 Being Black in Europe
19:47 Malcolm X
22:24 Being a Multifaceted Person
25:00 Starting his Basketball Academy
28:00 Anthony’s podcast
31:10 The 5 AM Club
36:00 Anthony’s Book Recommendation
50. Retiring at 24 with Symone Speech
To celebrate our 50th episode, Real Ballers Read had a special guest on today’s podcast: Symone Speech!! Symone is the Executive Director, college advisor and NCAA specialist for @ccachicago , a volleyball coach, retired pro athlete extraordinaire, and Jan's fiancé. In this episode, we hear Symone’s incredible story from not making tryouts as a 7th grader to making it as a pro volleyballer in Italy and Germany - with a super successful D1 college career at Georgetown University in between. Along the way of her athletic career, self-help and fantasy books helped her navigate many challenges and triumphs. The main one that we discuss in this episode is Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday, which helped her define her values and commit to serving others in her post-pro athlete life. This is a really fun family episode so make sure to check it out asap!! Everywhere you listen to podcasts and on YT.
:30 Symone’s Intro
1:33 Books that Symone grew up on
2:30 Symone’s first time playing volleyball
4:00 Symone’s recruiting process
6:31 Committing to Georgetown
9:00 Playing professional volleyball overseas
13:00 One of Symone’s biggest challenges
15:51 Where Symone feels she is in her growth journey
16:58 Shameless self-promotion
17:55 What Happens when you gift books…
19:03 Subtly Not Giving A F*K
24:25 Retiring from the game
27:35 What’s sticking from Stillness is the Key
30:00 Symone’s advice for high performance
32:39 American volleyball
34:00 Slam ball 🤝 Volleyball
35:20 Coaching Volleyball
37:39 Being Black playing volleyball
39:45 Transitioning into Work-Life
49. We Real Cool: Breaking Down bell hooks' Book on Black Masculinity
What a joy this episode was to record! bell hooks is one of our favorite authors and there is still so much we have to learn from her work. In this episode, we talk about one of our favorite books of hers, We Real Cool. We discuss what our favorite chapters are, whether or not we agree with her analysis and so many different aspects of masculinity and Black masculinity in particular. Share this episode with someone you think would appreciate it! Leave a review while you're here too!
0:51 Our podcast with Blacks With Books
2:30 How we stumbled upon We Real Cool
5:13 The Gwendolyn Brooks Poem the Book is Named After
6:43 The main problem facing Black men
8:18 bell hooks’ quote from the preface
10:40 What stood out to Jan most about the book
11:00 Thinking About School and Childhood
14:01 White Patriarchy
16:45 Plantation Patriarchy
18:04 The NFL
19:30 The neuroscience of absolute power
20:49 From Angry Boys to Angry Men
23:10 When Black Boys are quiet and obedient
25:12 How to use anger as a positive
26:30 Sex in Today’s World
28:16 We are born sensual
30:35 You are not alone
32:38 Which male problem is the root of all of them
34:02 What happens when your emotional needs aren’t met…
36:17 Masculinity and earning potential
38:12 Women’s influence on men today
40:33 How We Real Cool Makes Us Better Men
42:54 Being Warm
44:38 Debates about what a man is
46:55 bell hooks’ legacy
48. Part 3. Keeping It Real with Reggie Bailey
In this final Part 3 episode, Jan and Miles keep talking with Reggie Bailey— the man behind @reggiereads and one of the hosts of the awesome podcast, Books Are Pop Culture! The party don't stop...
2:32 You can’t get to the next level by being agreeable
4:34 How does Reggie measure his growth
7:39 Practicing the community you preach
10:34 Talking with Imani Perry
13:18 How to contact and talk with authors’
19:17 Miles’ questions about the future of the book industry
21:47 Jan’s big questions that he’s pondering
24:47 The media’s selectivity
31:27 The disturbing truth about banned books
38:18 Reggie has his Fat Joe moment
47. Part 2. Keeping It Real with Reggie Bailey
In this Part 2 episode, Jan and Miles keep talking with Reggie Bailey— the man behind @reggiereads and one of the hosts of the awesome podcast, Books Are Pop Culture! We talk about whether or not books should have trigger warnings, Reggie’s 10 Books 10 Decades challenge, and his story of how Books Are Pop Culture started. This is another episode full of gems and energy from Reggie so we know you’ll love it.
1:10 Trigger warnings quote
2:10 Reggie’s take on trigger warnings
6:05 Movie and TV Ratings
7:10 The new Marilyn Monroe movie
8:50 Should books have a rating system?
13:10 When Black Trauma Feels Unnecessary or Performative
14:45 Has a book ever triggered Reggie?
17:08 The Bluest Eye
19:15 The Risk in Reducing the Bluest Eye
20:25 Other books Deborah Appleman has written
21:05 Giving kids the freedom to read what they want
22:45 Trigger warnings in the Syllabi
25:05 Why Publishers Maybe Haven’t Done a Rating System
32:39 White Authors Writing About Black People
36:17 How Reggie Started the 10 Books 10 Decades Challenge
37:57 Reading Books Only By Women
43:12 Reggie’s Second Challenge—Two Books Under 50 Reviews
47:47 The Most Rewarding Thing for Reggie doing 10 B 10 D
49:06 Curating Your Own Cannon
52:29 People still be passing in 2022?
54:56 How Books Are Pop Culture Started
1:03:17 Why Reggie and Akili Do What they do
1:08:36 Creating the Culture
1:12:28 What Reggie Would Write About
1:18:53 Reggie’s test for writing success
1:20 Reggie on Kanye
1:22:22 If World Peace Ever Happens…
46. Keeping It Real with Reggie Bailey
In this episode, Jan and Miles talk with Reggie Bailey— the man behind @reggiereads and one of the hosts of the awesome podcast, Books Are Pop Culture! We talk about Reggie’s epic story of how he got into reading and our thoughts about Deborah Appleman’s new book, Literature and the New Culture Wars. We kept it real for three + hours so this is just the first part of our convo! Stay tuned for Part 2….
2:04 How Reggie got into reading
10:17 How Reggie built his own Black canon
14:38 How Reggie Left the Mob
16:07 Challenge Me, Don’t Coddle Me
21:00 Where Reggie’s Draws the Line with Censoring Books
23:20 Are you complicit? 28:04 Why People Can’t Hold Opposing Ideas
31:17 What Reggie Appreciates in Non-Fiction Books
36:52 How Literary Beef Plays Out On Social Media
39:29 How to Actually Cancel Something…
45:04 The Brian Stevenson Paradox
45. You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose and Your Why
In this episode, Miles interviews Jan about Eric Thomas' new book, You Owe You. We have been fans of ET's message for some time and this book did not disappoint. It brought all of the energy and focus of his speeches in an even more personal package.
0:41 Background on Eric Thomas
2:08 What surprised Jan most about You Owe You
3:38 Eric Thomas’ Childhood story
5:30 How Jan clarified his purpose from reading this book
8:49 What Jan owes himself
10:04 Jan’s daily non-negotiables
11:34 The Journey to Understanding What You Need
15:40 Having an Abundance Mindset with Time and Energy
17:47 The difference between presence and avoidance
19:22 What reading brings you
20:24 We Avoid Things that Have the Most Potential to Change Us
44. Native Son: Masculinity, Emotions, and Being Misunderstood
3:04 Books that Native Son influenced
6:00 Non-Fiction Writers who are great novelists
6:45 Richard Wright's writing about Africa
7:00 Talk about Native Son’s Impact Culturally
9:45 The Difference Between Bigger Thomas and Richard Wright
11:45 Why was Native Son written?
13:10 What did you take away from the book?
16:00 Comparing Native Son and Get Out
19:14 What it means to be understood
21:20 What being self-conscious even means
24:20 The link between masculinity and violence
29:50 James Baldwin’s Here Be Dragons: Freaks and the Ideal of American Manhood
33:15 “Emotions are bigger than people”
36:30 Good writers are masters of emotion
38:37 Does Miles recommend Native Son?
42:00 Fight Club author’s take on internal dialogue
45:30 Miles thinks of stupid literary experiment haha
43. Relationships Aren't Everything...
0:50 What We’re Looking Forward to In Chicago
3:31 What DC Means to Jan
5:04 The difference between people and place
5:30 Miles talks about New York City
11:00 How City Stereotypes Affect How You Live there
13:00 Miles talks about teaching in New York City
16:00 All the places we’ve been in the last two years
22.52 What the podcast has meant to us
27:00 The importance of thinking long term
30:20 Jan talking about Wendell Berry’s “Marriage and Poetry”
36:28 How Miles changed how he thought about relationships
39:00 Detaching Self-worth from your income
40:20 Not worrying about other’s validation
41:40 Kobe Bryant’s view of friendships
43:53 Can you care about somebody without spending time with them?
49:20 Starting a relationship podcast?
50:00 The Possible Consequences of Talking Intimately about relationships
42. Why Real Ballers Read
In this episode, we talk about why Real Ballers Read, the origin of the phrase, why reading is important to us, how our relationship to reading has changed over time and how you can start to strengthen your own reading habits. This episode has been years in the making! We know you'll love it. Subscribe to our podcast and leave a review!
1:31 The Story of When Our Mom First Said Real Ballers Read
4:49 How Our Dad Helped Us Love Reading through Basketball
8:14 The Origins of Real Ballers Read
11:15 The importance of the Self-Help book phase
15:40 Favorite Self help books
18:20 The Whiteness of Self-Help Books
20:00 Miles’ favorite self help book
22:02 Black Self Help Authors
22:20 How Stories of Personal Growth Inspire Potential
24:37 How Our Relationship to reading has changed in the last two years
30:26 How Our Definition of a Ballers Has Changed
32:23 Reading Now vs Reading 80 years ago
34:23 The Joy of Talking to Other People About Books
37:08 What makes reading seem pretentious?
46:26 How School Ruins Reading
48:57 How Meditation Compares to Reading
50:45 Mindfulness Industry vs. The Book Publishing Industry
52: 39 The Personal and Societal Consequences of Reading
57:00 How to Build Your Reading Habits
41. 5 Lessons From Our First Year of Podcasting
We're back to reflect on all of the ways we've grown from this last year of the Real Ballers Read Podcast. We're excited to embark on this new chapter of the podcast with you all! Subscribe to our podcast and leave a review!
0:40 What We’ve Been up to
6:49 The original purpose of the podcast
10:35 Lesson One- Go First
14:04 How We’ve Changed Through the Podcast
17:40 Lesson Two-Follow up
20:17 Our Favorite Email Chronicles
25:00 Lesson Three- Attention is the greatest gift that you can give to yourself and others
26:06 The impact of technology on how we give and receive attention
36:18 Lesson Four- Ask genuine questions
41:04 Lesson Five- Share Your Story
44:00 Is it possible to overshare your story?
49:00 Everyone needs a podcast
53:00 What Miles Is Looking Forward To
55:40 What Jan is Excited For
56:55 What Jan Has Been Reading
58:35 What Miles Has Been Reading
40. Reaching for Cosmic Glory with Glory Edim
Glory Edim has spent a lifetime gathering and uplifting the stories of Black women.
As a little girl in Arlington Virginia, Glory could be found at her local library reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
As a college student at Howard University, Glory could be found at Founders Library reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
As the visionary founder of Well-Read Black Girl, Glory can be found in the pages of her book On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library.
On Girlhood is a beautifully curated anthology of short stories that explore the thin line between Black girlhood and womanhood.
In this episode, we trace the intersections among Glory's experiences and the stories featured in her book, hear how the narratives of Black girls and women help Glory navigate life, and learn from her what it means to believe in your best self.
39. Things I Heard My Professor Say with Dr. Curtis Odom and Eli Boulous
On the first day of Dr. Curtis L. Odom’s capstone business class at Northeastern, Dr. Odom tells his students that anything he says twice they should write down.
Eli Boulous, a Senior student in the class one fall, heard this message and then proceeded to take copious notes of everything important Dr. Odom said. He meticulously organized these notes into quotations and by theme, and then gifted these notes to Dr. Odom at the end of the semester, with the title “Odom’s Playbook.”
Dr. Odom was so honored and humbled by the impact his words had on Eli and thought it was one of the best gifts he had ever received. Two years later, Dr. Odom reached out to Eli on LinkedIn asking if he wanted to adapt the playbook into a book, leading to it being published with them both as co-authors in 2021. And now in 2022, they joined us on the podcast right before they release their second book. Dr. Odom is truly a fountain of wisdom and both Dr. Odom and Eli are incredible speakers and storytellers.
The transition from studying to adulting is difficult to say the least.
Luckily, Dr. Curtis Odom and Eli Boulous have co-authored the perfect pair of books for those entering the working world in search of relevant, hard-earned wisdom: Things I Heard My Professor Say and Things I Heard Myself Say.
Listen in to hear their incredible stories and insights on creating your personal definition of success.
38. The Power of Betting On Yourself with Cree Myles
Cree Myles doesn't believe in book blurbs. After years of reading the newest releases around the clock, she's no longer fooled by any overly positive message on a book jacket. But when the author Jason Reynolds took the time to tweet about Noviolet Bulawayo's new book, Glory, she knew his praise was genuine and decided to read the book for herself⏤and now, Glory is her favorite book of 2022. In this episode, we discuss the novel's deft and humorous use of satire to illuminate recent Zimbabwean history and dive into Cree's journey into becoming a book influencer and inaugural editor and curator of the Penguin Random House initiative All Ways Black. Cree's story is an important reminder in the power of betting on yourself and we really enjoyed our conversation with her. We talk about everything from blue whales to political organizing, trap music, and Audre Lorde's essay "The Uses of the Erotic." You'll love this one!