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Real Ballers Read

Real Ballers Read

By Jan and Miles Menafee

Brothers Jan and Miles Menafee have grown a lot through their love of reading books. Their shared passion inspired them to start Real Ballers Read, a catalyst for helping young people feel more excited about reading through social media and fashion. Here on their podcast, they invite amazing people to talk about meaningful books in their lives, then Jan and Miles read the books, talk about them with their guests, and share the wonderful conversations here with you.
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87. The Future of Technology with Jadal Williams

Real Ballers ReadDec 04, 2023

87. The Future of Technology with Jadal Williams

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...

Dec 04, 202301:00:07
86. When Black Boys Become Black Men with Donta

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!

Nov 20, 202301:12:58
85. The Intimacy of Audiobooks with Forrest Evans

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.

Nov 13, 202355:48
84. Revolutionized Relationships with Mechiya Jamison

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.

Nov 06, 202345:37
83. Revolutionized Learning with Mechiya Jamison

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.

Nov 06, 202346:40
82. Forget the Alamo with Travis Green and Jason Stanford

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!!

Nov 03, 202301:07:46
81. Embracing the Sublime with Seanathan Polidore

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...

Oct 23, 202301:14:02
80. The Epic Story of The Black Fives with Claude Johnson
Oct 16, 202301:21:04
79. Art, Science, and Liberation with Delia West

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!

Oct 09, 202301:11:17
78. Being Original with Chinelo Ikem
Oct 05, 202301:00:19
77. Soul Food with Onyi Ozoma

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.

Oct 01, 202301:36:15
76. Why Willie Mae Thornton Matters with Lynnée Denise
Sep 10, 202301:00:29
75. The Importance of the Black Working Class with Dr. Blair LM Kelley
Aug 15, 202301:02:23
74. American Whitelash with Wesley Lowery
Jul 01, 202335:53
73. The New Black Aesthetic with Trey Ellis
Jun 23, 202343:50
72. From Precocious to the Pulitzer with Dr. Marcia Chatelain
Jun 02, 202339:06
71. On Our Resilience and Brilliance with Dr. Daniel Black
May 31, 202356:23
70. The Color of Science with Dr. Frederic Bertley
Apr 25, 202301:17:03
69. Race Matters: Talking About Cornel West's Classic

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.

You can check out the book with this link.

: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 

26:21 Courage

Apr 11, 202328:29
68. The Unexpected and Fun History of "Simple" with Dr. Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper

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 

Mar 30, 202301:14:19
67. How and Why to Start a Podcast
Mar 22, 202333:32
66. The Tale of Two Magazine Covers: Discussing Black Men in Popular Media

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.

Mar 13, 202319:15
65. Continuing Our Exploration of "Simple" with Uncle Chris

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

Feb 24, 202301:04:45
64. We Are The Trayvon Generation

64. We Are The Trayvon Generation

“I call the young people who grew up in the past twenty-five years the Trayvon Generation. They always knew these stories. These stories formed their world view. These stories helped instruct young African-Americans about their embodiment and their vulnerability. The stories were primers in fear and futility. The stories were the ground soil of their rage. These stories instructed them that anti-black hatred and violence were never far.” - Elizabeth Alexander, 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
Feb 18, 202351:03
63. Who is Simple?? Talking About Langston Hughes' Beloved Character

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

4:02 Homegoing

6:15 Jan’s trip to DC

8:15 Jan Claiming Author Status

10:28 Simple

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

Feb 10, 202337:35
62. The Spook Who Sat By The Door

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. 

Feb 04, 202312:54
61. The Weight of Wellness with Akili Nzuri

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

Jan 27, 202301:06:03
60. Fascinated to Presume: Zadie Smith's Powerful Essay on Fiction

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

Jan 21, 202301:34:21
59. Poetry is Not A Luxury with Dr. Eve L. Ewing

59. Poetry is Not A Luxury with Dr. Eve L. Ewing

Introducing… Dr Eve L. Ewing as the newest guest on the Real Ballers Read podcast!!

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”
Jan 13, 202346:43
58. Lessons from Michael Jordan for 2023

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

20:59 Boxing

23:30 What success looks like for Jan

27:06 What success looks like for Miles

Jan 06, 202329:30
57. Why It's Important for Black Men to Read

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

Dec 30, 202231:41
56. 2022, A Year in Review!

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

Dec 23, 202219:21
55. Watering Whole with Jan Ellis Menafee

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

Dec 16, 202236:08
54. Seeing a Sermon in Action with Daniel Cast

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

19:51 Voodoo

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

Dec 09, 202256:34
53. Portrait of A Young Black Artist on Fire with Vera Grace Menafee

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

Dec 02, 202201:47:55
52. Celebrating Black Women for Who They Are with Shanita Hubbard

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. 

Ride or Die Book Link

Shanita's Website

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

Nov 26, 202201:20:49
51. Dreaming Big with Anthony Ireland

51. Dreaming Big with Anthony Ireland

Anthony Ireland is a graduate of Loyal Marymount University, he played nine years of basketball professionally in Europe, and he is the founder of the AI three Leadership Academy and host of the Grind podcast. In this episode, we talk about his love of basketball and reading and his journey with both over the years. You'll love this conversation as much as we did!
: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
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
Nov 18, 202240:43
50. Retiring at 24 with Symone Speech

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

21:34 Balance

24:25 Retiring from the game

26:00 💍

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

Nov 11, 202245:08
49. We Real Cool: Breaking Down bell hooks' Book on Black Masculinity

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!

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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

Nov 04, 202250:08
48. Part 3. Keeping It Real with Reggie Bailey
Oct 28, 202240:36
47. Part 2. Keeping It Real with Reggie Bailey

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. 

Reggie's Instagram

Books Are Pop Culture Instagram

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…

Oct 21, 202201:23:47
46. Keeping It Real with Reggie Bailey
Oct 14, 202247:57
45. You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose and Your Why

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

Oct 08, 202223:46
44. Native Son: Masculinity, Emotions, and Being Misunderstood

44. Native Son: Masculinity, Emotions, and Being Misunderstood

In this episode, Miles and Jan talk about a book that Miles read recently: Native Son by Richard Wright. It's a crazy and complex book that has an even more important legacy. We talk about why the book had such a big impact, what’s relatable and realistic about Bigger Thomas, dive into what it really means to understand other people's emotions and our own. CW: In discussing Native Son, we talk about the novel’s depictions of sexual violence.
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
Sep 30, 202247:16
43. Relationships Aren't Everything...

43. Relationships Aren't Everything...

They are the ONLY thing. In this podcast episode, we talk about all of the places we've been in the past couple of years, and how our relationships to each other and our friends and family have changed during that time.
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
Sep 20, 202259:32
42. Why Real Ballers Read

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

Sep 10, 202201:00:54
41. 5 Lessons From Our First Year of Podcasting

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!

Real Ballers Read Website

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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

Aug 30, 202201:01:37
40. Reaching for Cosmic Glory with Glory Edim
Jun 28, 202201:01:26
39. Things I Heard My Professor Say with Dr. Curtis Odom and Eli Boulous

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.

Things I Heard My Professor Say on

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Jun 06, 202201:32:09
38. The Power of Betting On Yourself with Cree Myles
May 29, 202201:26:09