Culture Queen Discusses Top Kwanzaa Misconceptions Got questions about Kwanzaa? You’re not alone. Here’s Kwanzaa educator Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron’s rundown of the top five misconceptions about Kwanzaa. Misconception 1: Kwanzaa is a Religion Kwanzaa is a celebration of Pan-African family and community, not a religious ritual. “People think that if you start celebrating Kwanzaa, you're devil worshiping or you're worshiping principles instead of God. That's not true. The principles . . .
In December 2014, I attended a Kwanzaa workshop at Central Montessori School in Richmond, Virginia, that continues to resonate, across years and miles. The speaker was Kwanzaa educator Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron, and her celebration—culturally rooted, historically aware, hands-on, and high-energy—introduced Kwanzaa to my toddler daughter in grand fashion. She transformed the gathering space with an ornate Kwanzaa table and song, dance, crafts, and stories that kept families engaged from . . .
Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron is on a mission to make Kwanzaa fun, enticing, and effortless for families to celebrate. “We have several different black people holidays, but this is the big one,” she explains. “I think it's really cool that black people have something just for them that lasts seven days, helps you to align yourself culturally, and gives you like a cultural sense of self.” She believes that the keys to bolstering participation in the holiday she loves are to start slow and . . .
I marvel at book talk attendees. People trek from great distances, clutching worn copies of favorite reads. They stand in long lines for a brief word with (or autograph from) a favorite writer. The brave ones step to the podium to share stories or ask questions. Their remarks bring more voices and perspectives into conversation. Their contributions add welcome depth and texture to the occasion. At a Jacqueline Woodson BookPeople talk that I moderated in October, an educator in the audience . . .
When people ask what my favorite book is, I always respond with Jacqueline Woodson’s 2012 picture book Each Kindness. But truth be told, everything she writes, from picture book to poetry to novel, is wonderful. Each new work prompts me to consider central questions of who we are, why we are, and how we can grow for the better. And, because I adore her writing and her advocacy for reading, I interview her every chance I get. Here’s an excerpt from our October conversation about her novel Red . . .
Emphatic and unsparing, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy explores the weight of wellness in a culture obsessed with lean. His expansive intelligence and fluid prose bear up to haunting family secrets and American deceptions with deep, potent wells of beauty, humor, and empathy. Initially conceived as a weight-loss story chronicling his family’s struggles with food and violence, the writing of Heavy, which was recently named a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, got murkier . . .