Ep. 256 Centering Us with Shanita Hubbard – Transcript

Today professor and author Shanita Hubbard speaks with The Stacks about her book Ride or Die: A Feminist Manifesto for the Well-Being of Black Women. We discuss the cultural erasure of Black women and why the idea that they will “save the world” is manipulative. We also note how effortlessly Black female essayists have been weaving together scholarly and pop cultural commentary.

The Stacks Book Club selection for March is Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. We will discuss the book on March 29th with Shanita Hubbard.


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Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today we are joined by journalist and sociology professor, author and advocate Shanita Hubbard. Shanita is here to talk with us about her work and her new book Ride or Die: A Feminist Manifesto for the Wellbeing of Black Women. Shanita is a former therapist, and she teaches in Toronto and as the chair of the freelance task force for the National Association of Black Journalists. She’s also a Soros fellow and was awarded the Baldwin writers residency fellowship and 2020. We talk about black women’s arratia and culture, why she hates this idea of black women saving the world. And then of course, we talk about the many books that have shaped Shanita’s life. Our March book club pick is the essay collection Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Shanita will be back on March 29th for our discussion of the book. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the show can be found in the link in the show notes. If you love the show and you want more access to it, please go to patreon.com/the stacks and join The Stacks pack. When you join you get bonus episodes of the podcast like this month’s conversation where I begged Mr. Stacks to join me, you get access to the discord which is full of the best bookish chatter around and you get to come to our monthly virtual book club. Plus you get discounts on merch you get shout outs on the show. Basically, it’s the best place to be if you are a book lover, and what’s more joining The Stacks pack makes it possible for me to make the show every single week so please please please if you’re able to head to patreon.com/thestacks and join a special shout out to our newest members of the stacks pack. Gil Lehmann sharing Richmond, Emma Meg Shaughnessy, Vela Val, Erica Tooley Chelsea’s Guerra and Mike Napl. Thank you all so much, and thank you to the entire stacks pack. All right, now it’s time for my conversation with Shanita Hubbard.

All right, you y’all I’m so excited to welcome our first March guest to The Stacks. She is a writer, a professor, a smart-ass woman. Her name is Shanita Hubbard, her new book is called Ride or Die a feminist manifesto for the well being of black women. Shanita, welcome to the stacks.

Shanita Hubbard 2:24
Oh, I’m so happy to be here. I feel like I just got invited to the cool kids table. Thank you for having me.

Traci Thomas 2:33
That’s hilarious. We’re not that we’re a bunch of nerds over here. But you know what being nerdy is cool is I feel from one node to another. Yes. For folks who are not familiar with you, or just for me to tell me, tell us about yourself. I mean, we know a little bit about your work. But where did you grow up? How did you come to this work? Give us a little bit of your your story?

Shanita Hubbard 2:57
Sure. Yes, I am. Listen, you can read the professional accolades anywhere, right, but I’m just still a regular degular girl from Yonkers, from the hood in Yonkers. That’s where I grew up some of the anchors on my life and I went until I moved to I went to an HBCU in the south and south carolina changed my life. Our shout out to HBCU I am the mom of an incredible amazing dope black girl. And I swear like, she just makes my life just better just by existing. And I love writing. And also love, love love centering us in my work like nothing bring no professional Simons brings me greater joy than to center. US my community black people, black woman. So that’s my thing. I’m here and I’m excited to be here, guys.

Traci Thomas 3:49
I love it. I love it so much. I love they love that you love your daughter so much. It’s so sweet. I have twin boys. And we’re not really in that phase right now because they’re three years old and they’re driving me crazy. But I hope soon to love them again. They brighten my day.

Shanita Hubbard 4:07
Traci please join us there. My baby is about to be a teenager in a few weeks. And I missed that age even I swear enjoy every second of it.

Traci Thomas 4:17
I’m trying it’s just really hard when you’re getting you know Legos jammed up your nose.

Shanita Hubbard 4:21
Oh listen. I know.

Traci Thomas 4:27
I know you know I’m obsessed with your Yonkers accent I’m sure people tell you that all the time. I lived in New York for a while so hearing New York is just makes me so happy makes me smile so big. I really enjoyed your book. I feel like what you’re doing in writer die is super interesting. Because you’re pushing, you’re pushing. I think a lot of the book is pushing back right? Like I feel like you’ve done so much work with black women and feminism. And I feel like from the read my read that I got of it is like you’re sort of tired of a lot of the things that you keep hearing and seeing and the erasure that you keep experiencing and this book sort of Feels like pushing against those, like typical narratives. Does that feel right to you?

Shanita Hubbard 5:07
As the kids would say, I feel so seen, Traci. That’s exactly right. That is exactly right. What I wanted to do is, for those who have not yet read the book, I use hip hop as like a conversate is an entry point to a conversation about larger issues that are specific to black womanhood, right. I’m like, the first chapter is all about, let’s define the right or die industrial complex as burning to the ground, we are done. We’re not doing this, we writing for ourselves, we’re showing up for ourselves. And then the other chapters are areas that I want us to focus on. And it’s with hip hop. And if anyone has a hip hop head, you know that it we it’s ours, right, it started as a way to amplify the voices of marginalized communities. But still within that genre, they are marginalized voices within marginalized voices. So I wanted to flip the script and push back exactly like you said, and use, you know, and use this culture use this music to amplify voices that are typically muted, even sometimes within hip hop.

Traci Thomas 6:08
Yeah, and I think it’s interesting you talk about in the, I think it’s the second or third essay about the coroner about like, how, you know, there’s so many songs and so many cultural moments for black men on the corner. And it’s like this uplifting space, and it’s this communal space, and it’s where deals get done. And it’s where friendships are made, and bonds are held, and you know, all of that vengeance takes place. It’s like such a powerful place for black men. And you talk about how for black women, it’s not necessarily that sometimes it’s where sexual violence takes place. Sometimes it’s where, you know, young girls become women, in a sense, because of the cat calling and the sexual, you know, harassment. And you have this line where you talk about black women need to be included in these spaces. Because when we’re erased, it’s exactly like what white culture did to black folks that made Hip Hop come about, like the hip hop was this response and this pushback. And when women black women are excluded from these spaces, that that it’s the same sort of thing happening where black men are becoming the dominant culture that’s excluding us.

Shanita Hubbard 7:10
Yeah, absolutely. I love that we’re starting there. That’s actually one of my favorite chapters, right? So I’m not even saying that I want them to, like, I have no and no goals of like hanging out on a corner or hanging on a block. That’s not my goal. Right. But we are still a lot of us have to walk by those corners. So what I wanted I love Yeah, I love comment. I love you know, the song, the corners and the videos. But, uh, he did a wonderful job of showing a universal experience, right? Because he’s from the Midwest. So But still, this experience was so universal, that, you know, black men all over connected to exactly what you said, what happens there before a lot of young black girls, it is exactly like you said, it is the place where we experienced sexual violence for the first time without this, you know, without even having a language, it is just welcomed by those quarters. I remembered I wrote about this in a book being 12 years old, and he’s really grown men, you know, grabbing my ass. And you know, just two men that knew me just like trying to holla at me like I was chasing me like all these things that completely normalized. It just became part of what happens when I walk on a block, whether it’s going to my friend’s house with a friend of my friend’s house, and those experiences stayed with me. So when I say I want us to be included, I mean, and those narratives like when common is talking about what happens on a cornice, expand that a bit right, let’s tell the truth. let’s widen the lens and talk about what happens to black girls on his corners. Let’s talk about and how that stays with us. Our lives. I don’t know, I feel so old, right? Because I some of my students never even heard of this song. But I can like quote the video like but I remember there’s a there’s a scene in a video and it’s so accidentally perfect. Right? So calm. The the scene is these these young black girls who look maybe about 12 years old. They’re walking out of school because it’s after school, and they’re getting dismissed. And that as they start to walk out of the school, and you’re about to walk down the street, the camera pans away from them. And we never get to see what happens on your walk home. We never get to see what their experience is like on a corner. And that was such an unintentional capture of wouldn’t race or is because black, young, black and brown girls are having these experiences on the corners. But we’re not capturing them in hip hop. And we’re not talking about them collectively. And this is really important. This is not like, oh, you know, this is not like I want to be I want you to talk about us in your barber shops. Now you can keep that right. But there’s real life things that happen to us when we were younger, and a lot of us just completely normalize it. And I want him to like broaden the lens, literally and figuratively, to include us.

Traci Thomas 9:41
Yeah, I mean, I think what you said about the barbershop part is what really stuck out to me in the reading, because I sort of had that moment of like, well, this just like isn’t a space for black women. And then I was like, then you said, Actually, we walked down the street to it’s not a private location. The corner isn’t your friend’s house right? cuz like, it’s not your barbershop this corner is the corner like it’s outside. It’s a public property. So women are gonna be there whether or not like you have you think that it’s a woman space. And I think that for me that was like, right. Of course I know that. But I didn’t it never had dawned on me that like, the eraser has been so intense that it didn’t even dawn on me. Like we’re allowed to be on corners.

Shanita Hubbard 10:28
We’re allowed to walk down the street, right? We are, these are our tools. This is our spaces to.

Traci Thomas 10:35
I have to ask you this is this wasn’t originally on my questions, but it just popped into my head. What did you think of the Grammys? 50 years of hip hop? What do you call it? Like review that they did?

Shanita Hubbard 10:44
Oh, the tribute, I didn’t see a lot of it. But from what I could see, I’m listening guys. I’m staying in an Airbnb right now because my pipes broke, and my house has to be repaired. So sometimes this Wi Fi causes me to like not even have freaking cable TV over here. So I didn’t even see the whole thing. I’m sorry.

Traci Thomas 11:09
Okay, that’s fine. That’s my boy. I thought it was great. I had a great time. But I just was thinking you’re you’re the expert. Okay, in your book, you do. Your book is sort of memoir. But it’s also got like a lot of theory and history and sort of like academic ideas in it. And I was thinking, I was curious about how you approach kind of weaving both the memoir and the more like, I don’t know, what you would call the other stuff, but how you mix the memoir with the like, more vetted cultural data type stuff.

Shanita Hubbard 11:42
The genre blending came so natural to me, because it’s, I wanted the book to feel like brunch with Shanita, like, trace if you and I went to like a brunch, right? And maybe Bottomless mimosas was flowing. Maybe somebody popped an edible, we can go from Kiki in right? And then we can also in that same conversation, we can be laughing and joking and and I can also share with you some things that’s on my mind, like, Hey, I’m kind of stressed out because my daughter’s not getting the support she needs from school. And then I’ll have to interject why this is a big deal. And I’ll break down the adult suffocation of black girlhood, right, the adult education of black girls and how they are seen as you know, adult when they’re still children and how though and what that looks like for them in schools. And then we can flip and then one of my favorite songs and come on like a mag or Cardi B or just anything and then I gotta pause because you don’t know how to freestyle. And then we could go back to just regular talking. And because that’s who I am like I am all I’m just Shanita who’s also a professor who’s also well read who’s also a mom. So you get all of this whenever you experience me. So that’s what I wanted my book to feel like to I wanted it to be that right and we are also multifaceted, right? We can we can walk versus and be argumentative. Dipset is better than a lot. But then we can also talk about our favorite Audrey Lorde worlds, right? So we are so black woman we are so dope layered and multifaceted. And that’s what I wanted to give us.

Traci Thomas 13:05
Yeah. And I feel like when we were talking about what books to do, I threw out a handful and one of the ones I threw out was thick by trustee McMillan cottom and another one I thought that we didn’t do is eloquent rage by Brittany Cooper. And then we picked about Feminist by Roxane Gay. But I think, you know, the reason that those women really stood out to me as people that I would want to talk about with you is because I feel like the best black women who are writing about being black women are doing what you’re describing, right, where they’re taking, you know, their their academics, their their well learned women, and they are good hang. They’re funny. They know about pop culture just as much as they know about census data. And like, to me, I think that just shows it you know, you all are examples of like, what brilliant black women we have thinking and writing today. And I just I it’s one of my favorite genres are like these essay collections like you’ve written and like the ones I mentioned, because they’re just, they’re thrilling to read, you know,

Shanita Hubbard 14:03
thank you. That’s such a Hi, first of all, anytime you just mentioned me with like Roxane Gay, that’s a high compliment. And I think honestly, Tracy is like, I we deserve two weeks to show up at our full selves in every space. Yes, at work, but also in our work right as content creators. Like it’s perfectly fine for me to write for us for me to write, you know, to to my specific demographic. And I love that I love that in literature and I want us all to completely show up as our full selves.

Traci Thomas 14:34
But I even more like the than that. I feel like it’s a thing that black women are doing because as you know, I read a ton of authors and I read very diversely and I love essay collections. And like I’m not seeing the same kind of like, almost it feels effortless though. I know it’s not this effortless weaving of the personal and the pop cultural and the academic in other like groups like it’s seems to be this thing that’s becoming like the voice of black women is this skill to like weave, so well and like to really lean into the pop culture, I don’t know why maybe it has something to do with like wanting to be able to be read in as many spaces as possible, you know, and to be received because so many doors have been closed in our faces for so long. But it’s something that I feel like has become part of the fabric of current black women literature and, and I love it here.

Shanita Hubbard 15:27
I love it here. And that’s such a brilliant observation. I think, honestly, a lot of us are tapping into our mother, our mother, Tony, right. She Toni Morrison said you know, she I remember her your interview one time, she was like, she wants to write a book where she’s not when there are no little notes for white people, right? She’s not explaining anything. So I think there’s a black woman, especially of a certain age, like you’re above, I’m gonna say 35 There is a level of freedom that we operate in right this touch this freedom to just show up and just be exactly who we are. Because this is an I don’t want to sound redundant, but like this, this is really who we are, like, Honey like and I’m swear we’re on a given weekend, I can go from Oh, wow, such and such just came home from prison. And that block is about to have a barbecue for him come through that I’m there. And then the following week, I’m pulling up because I’m going to my sorrows conference, because I’m also a Soros justice fellow. But I have to squeeze that in between me coming back from Paris because I’m a James Baldwin fellow. But I’m still the same person in every single space. And I love this for us. I love that we are not trying to capitulate into anyone else’s standards. I love that we are just to one of the things I noticed about this, my generation is new influx of writers is that we’re not trying to sound like anyone else. And I think that is fantastic.

Traci Thomas 16:48
Yeah, I do too. I think it’s fantastic. Because it it makes there’s so much space for all of our books, and they feel different. You know, like, there’s definitely certain groups of people, we’re all read a book and I’m like, Okay, I feel like I’ve done this. Yeah, all the books feel the same or like they’re aspiring to a certain kind of voice. And I don’t, I don’t feel like that is true for a lot of the black women who are writing, you know, nonfiction memoir, sort of combo books, like there. I mean, there’s so many I can think of I just named those, those four, but there’s just so many of them, and they’re so good.

Shanita Hubbard 17:21
And that’s how you somehow can we since we have run brunch right now, can we pretend that we are like your bottomless mimosa? If you’re seeing like, have you are enjoying like the this new influx of black writers? Because I’m not even know. Right? But there’s just more out right now. Right from black woman? Yes, because we’re fighting like hell behind the scenes to be able to tell these stories, because the publishing industry, as you know, is very formulaic. Right? If this is what worked, right, they want you to stick to this formula, because this is how tiny you see called sold. And this is how such and such so and this is how this is maybe some other even white people. So because they really push for you to kind of replicate a preexisting and formula. And a lot of them really push to for you to write a book that also speaks to white people. Right? They will say things like, we need to have really inclusive language, or we need to make sure the readers understand. I had to tell people, all my readers understand what this means. I read from people that understand when ratchet was ratchet and not just you know, right? So a lot of this is because we’re fighting like hell behind the scenes to be this free. And it is not coming. Easy honey,

Traci Thomas 18:31
isn’t that like a statement of the year for black women? For whatever you see, we’re fighting like hell to get here. I mean, I just got off the most frustrating phone call, which we don’t have to talk about. But it was a thing of me being like, wow, you wanted XY and Z, it would have been wonderful if you’d communicated that with me, because I know you’ve communicated that with 95 white girls that you work with. It’s so true. And like, and then this is the other thing that comes up so much in your book is this idea of respectability politics, right? Like, it’s not just that we’re fighting to tell these stories, or to get access or to be seen or to be to be deemed worthy by the powers that be and white social structures and professional structures. But also, that if we want to show up fully as ourselves, we’re told that we’re too much or too loud or too sexual or too mean, or to MIT, you know, to whatever. And I feel like in your book, you I mean, in the Lauryn Hill chapter, I mean, it’s every chapter, I think you’re pushing up against respectability politics. So I’d love to hear sort of like how do you deal with wanting to be accepted so that you have the ability to do your work and have people read it with the request that you do less or be less or do it in a certain way or, you know, get right within or whatever Lauryn Hill says.

Shanita Hubbard 19:53
You know, that is a that is a really good question. One of the things that because I am and honestly I think we We all every single day just like you have to, like, take showers and brush your teeth, right? White supremacy is so etched into the fiber of our being and to our existence into this world to this era that if we’re not actively rejecting it, we’re perpetuating it. And respectability politics is nothing is really it’s just a byproduct of white supremacy because it’s saying, behave like this. So this, this dominant culture can respect you better, right? So every so we have to myself, I have to constantly, I have to fall, I have to do it less now. But I definitely was in a stage where had to really be honest with myself and constantly reject that, like, why am I afraid of using this language? When it’s really what I want to say, then who am I really speaking to? Then who am I really writing for? Right? So these are the things that I have that are sent to me that guide me. And that is not even in his book, like, but just with, with everything. And I know in publishing, right, it kind of mirrors the rest of the industry, I remember, if you listen to any documentary, or any artists, they will tell you that a lot of times labels will be like, give us the commercial box, give us that hit. And then you can write whatever thing whatever you want, or whatever. But what happens is, you start to get stuck in that right, I just think about an old school hip hop hands, like remember when the locks came out wearing shiny suits, because did he said that’s what’s gonna sell and baby, right? That is absolutely not who they are, don’t. And words are from the hood, they from my block, they are not some shiny suit where negros, but this is what they wore. So they had to then fight to get out of their box so that they can be free. Maybe I’m not fighting for my freedom. Like I’m just not letting you put me in a box. You’re not putting me in your proverbial shiny suit. Like you’re just not doing this to me, because I genuinely believe that what is for me is for me, right? And in terms of writing and success, like my core audience, the people that I’m writing for, they will get it and it will happen. And I don’t want to do it in a shiny suit.

Traci Thomas 21:54
Yeah, yeah. One of the things that you made me think about was this idea that like black women are here to save everyone else or that it’s our job and like, I’m really curious about how you feel about that refrain especially I’m thinking about like in politics when it comes up every time Georgia has an election and how Stacey Abrams is like some sort of hero to America because she’s delivered a victory in some way. And you know, that’s where I feel like we see it the most though we do see it and other spaces but this like, sort of cultural collective praise of black women in situations where everyone else has decided that it’s okay for themselves to be morally bankrupt. But thank God that black woman saved us even though 53% of white women voted XY and Z

Shanita Hubbard 22:48
girl Girl Listen, listen. So my premise of Dr. Da right it’s not just you know, we’re not talking about I’m not writing about just in relationship aspects I’m talking about how the whole world expects us to ride into we die and for people that wouldn’t even stand up for us. So it is not by any stretch of the imagination a compliment to be like you know black woman we can save everything you know, yes you can do it just give it to black women they can fix it baby we are not your magical negros that show up to clean up messes that we did not fix just because we are capable does not mean we I hate when I you see this and nonprofit a lot and you see this incorporate where your competence is rewarded with more work it’s never oh well Tracy you did this amazing let me cut you to six figure bonus check is typically trait so you did this amazing can you take this on to write and that’s how the world treats us You did this fantastic Can you fix this to none of them? Oh baby I want this stuff to come with financial compensation I want this to come and reward and not more labor. And I miss whole leave it to black woman we can do a we can save the world we got this. That is really nice. That’s the cousin to that sentence where like I hate this thing where we get so excited to be invited to the table that we damnit eat whatever is served, and we forget that there’s the empty will is incomplete without us. So people so this whole weekend, let us save the world narrative. We’re excited about it. Baby, you’re getting excited about labor, you’re getting excited about rescuing people who will not compensate you with leadership with with excess wealth will not compensate you in a way that you know they would anyone else we are not mules of the world and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna take on that labor or I’m gonna allow anyone to celebrate me for being a damn you. That’s crazy.

Traci Thomas 24:43
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s one of those things every time I hear it, it makes my stomach just sort of like do a little flip. Right? I’m just like, Enough. Enough. Yeah. Enough. Like, I don’t I don’t want to be seller. It’s also like this You’re celebrating Black women doing what we’ve been doing, because everyone else decided that they didn’t have to do it. Right. Like, it’s never like let’s celebrate Black women for like, going to the grocery store, right? It’s like, let’s celebrate black woman for saving democracy or like, making sure we all have our the right to go outside. Okay, why is this falling to us? Like, why is this my responsibility? I’ve been voting my conscience. And it’s only when it’s close, and it matters to other people and like, it’s like, oh, so we’re the last resort because you all can’t live up to your own your own ideas. And I think that for me is where I’m just like, Okay, well, if you if you just voted blue or whatever, like that you wouldn’t meet me, right? There’s way more of y’all.

Shanita Hubbard 25:50
Obviously, Tracy and it’s also really manipulative, right? You say you’re the mama Yes. Who twins, right? I remember do I know how to do this strategy, which is what check kids because I used to do it with my daughter into a stop working when I want her to let’s say I’m sitting in a living room and I want her to go all the way to the kitchen and get me a bottle of water, but I don’t feel like getting up. So I’ll say to her, maybe I bet you you’re super so fast. You can go get mommy’s water in like 10 seconds. Mommy’s gonna cow and she’s like, Okay, I bet you can beat your record from last time. Okay, so chi and like, Go tennis, she takes off running to get the water. That’s almost what they do to us. Like, Oh, I bet you save America from itself, even though we treat you like shit. And we’re still going to do this again in another four years? I bet you can do it. Let me see you go. It’s really manipulative. Right? Right.

Traci Thomas 26:36
And it’s just also just like, if you just did it. Like if you just voted yes, the way that you want me to vote and got your little friends to do that, then we wouldn’t have this problem. Because because we’re actually such a small part of the voting bloc,

Shanita Hubbard 26:50
because they don’t want to do the labor. They don’t want to go out and talk to their friends. They don’t want to go knocking door to door they want to get us up to run to the kitchen and get the water while they count. That’s what they want. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 27:01
Yeah. Okay, we’re gonna take a quick break, and we’ll be right back. Okay, we’re back. We’re transitioning to books now because we have to talk about the books that you love to read. But before we do we do a thing every week called Ask the Stax or somebody or every month and where somebody writes in and they they ask a question for book recommendations, and then you and I are gonna give it to them. So I’ll read the question and then you can come up with one or two or three or whatever you want. So this comes from Caitlin I hope you I don’t know if you listen to audiobooks, but that’s what this question is about. So good luck. I’m looking for great nonfiction or possibly fiction to listen to while I work out something compulsive that makes me want to go out. Sorry, something compulsive that makes me want to go work out just so I can listen more. I’ve recently loved Patrick Radden Keefe empire of pain and say nothing and bad blood and furious hours. Do you listen to audiobooks? Shanita

Shanita Hubbard 27:58
don’t listen to audiobooks but if I did like for this, there’s a book I’m looking for is called the body liberation project. Have you heard of it?

Traci Thomas 28:07
I think that I have Chrissie King,

Shanita Hubbard 28:09
right. So she’s talking about like Bali politics from what I’m just started the book, right. But from right now it looks like she’s talking about like, it’s not the typical local, you know, like, Let’s lose weight. Yes, yes. Yes. Yeah. So it really is she’s talking about the intersection of like white white supremacy, obesity, and beauty, identity politics, and it’s really brilliant. So honestly, if I was to listen to an audiobook, especially if I was looking for something for the gym, not because that would gas me to go harder, right? Because I would just like it’s so brilliant that your mind would just be so wrapped up in it. Next thing you know, you finish your 35 minutes on a treadmill. So she’s it’s actually rad. I love it. Yeah, she’s really smart. Okay, I

Traci Thomas 28:48
actually have that book. I gotta go dig it out of one of my stacks and check it out. Okay, Caitlin, here are my recommendations. I have listened to all of these on audiobook and they’re all really good. I tried to give you a range. The first one because you mentioned how much you like Patrick Radden Keefe, his essay collection rogues fantastic, highly recommend their essays, and they’re about an hour each. So it’s perfect for the gym for like an hour workout or something. The next one is the fairway brothers, which is this not an investigative journalism about these two, these twin boys who I believe are from El Salvador. And they come to America. And it’s their story of like going to school high school in Oakland, which is where I’m from. So obviously, I like the book just because of that, but it’s really well researched and the woman who wrote it Lauren Markham, she makes an appearance in the book. I believe she’s maybe a guidance counselor at the school. But it’s a really interesting story about people who are coming to America without documentation and what that looks like, especially when they’re children and they’re coming alone without their parents. And then the last one is one of my favorite sort of books. A male counterpart to write or die I would say is the book called stakes is high by Michael Denzel Smith. I recommended the audio book a million times. Oh my god, it’s so good. Have you read this one? No,

Shanita Hubbard 30:04
but I read his first book, I did not follow his work. He’s so good. I gotta get that one. He’s

Traci Thomas 30:08
so good. You have to get it. It’s so good. I’ve listened to it on audio twice. Now I like really love it. It’s super short. And it’s sort of his reckoning with what happened to the 2016 election, which the further I get away from the election, the more impressive this book is that I’m like, Holy shit, it stands. It’s not a 2016 book at all. It’s really like a much bigger book. And it talks about, like, what it means to be American, and be black. Because even though we don’t miss, like, black folks might not always agree with a lot of American stuff. Like there is power and there is privilege in being American. And that means we also have to stand behind in some ways the election of Trump and like reckon with things that happened in our name, even if we don’t agree with them in the same way that we expect, you know, white conservatives to reckon with Obama being elected when they don’t agree with that. And like that there is some conversation kind of to be had about our responsibility to ourselves, as Americans and to our blackness as black people, and it’s really good and interesting. So those would be my three recommendations. And Caitlin, if you read them, let us know. And everyone else email ask the stacks at the stacks. podcast.com To get your book recommendation. Read on the air. Okay, she has books here we go. Tell me about two books you love and one book you hate.

Shanita Hubbard 31:26
Oh my gosh, just two books. It’s hard. Okay, heavy by Kiese. There’s way more books we’re gonna talk about. So when chicken heads come home to roost by Dr. John Morgan. Oh my gosh, girl when I tell you that book, split me open and was held up a mirror and show me some things inside of me that I did not like, honey.

Traci Thomas 31:48
Yeah, so that’s a class I almost suggested that is for us to do on the book book club. But then I was like, I bet she already knows that book way too well and loves it way too much.

Shanita Hubbard 31:57
Listen, always suggest that to me fast to do because I’d love to ask this one that just freaking classic. So that and then heavy by kissing like his writing is so beautiful. I have to read his book, at least twice like once for the story and wants to just fangirl out about the writing. Like that’s my writing crush. Where we go together in my head. We’re in a very committed relationship. In my head.

Traci Thomas 32:21
I love it. I love it. What about a book? You hate?

Shanita Hubbard 32:25
I don’t even know. It was fair to say that hate a book that I haven’t even read yet. But there’s this book. I hate the premise of it. Can I say that?

Traci Thomas 32:34
Ok, you can say it. Well, you haven’t read it so you don’t actually know if it’s bad.

Shanita Hubbard 32:40
I hate the idea of April Ryan’s book right black woman will save the world. Okay, I love that is an attempt if you know to celebrate us and how capable we are. However, I hate everything about assigning us the responsibility for cleaning up something we didn’t fuck up. Right? I hate the idea of you know, celebrating the fact that the world looks at us like a mu. Like that is not something worthy of celebration. I don’t want black woman to save the world. I want us to save ourselves. I want us to show up for ourselves. I want us to be you know, of course pour out into our family in our community. But with the reponsive the responsibility to be these rescuers For The World is a hard pass for me. I think that’s just the premiership could be going in a whole different direction. I just can’t bring myself to like crack that open and read a word of it. Because I can’t do it. I wasn’t ready to read it and I’m wrong. I will be like, I’m so sorry. And I will buy multiple copies. But if I’m wrong, okay.

Traci Thomas 33:42
Okay, people if you’ve read it, let us know if it’s any good. We have our doubts. What is the last great book that you’ve read?

Shanita Hubbard 33:52
The movement made us by David Dennis Jr.

Traci Thomas 33:56
So good. So good. Didn’t it make you just like, want to know his dad so badly? Like I just wanted to know David Dunn a senior that he

Shanita Hubbard 34:06
that’s actually my one of my friends and he probably thinks I’m joking when I’m like, oh, I want to come to your book events like a fangirl over your dad like not to sound like a groupie, but I absolutely just want to just know him more. I want to talk to him more. All of it. It was just amazing.

Traci Thomas 34:20
What are some books that you’re looking forward to reading and it can be either books that are coming out soon or it can be books that are on your shelves that you just haven’t gotten to yet.

Shanita Hubbard 34:29
I’ve got like a gazillion books on my shelf that I haven’t done so yeah. So I’m actually I want to do some rereads like I want to like to pull out some more Audrey Lords books, right. I want to sit with some more Bell Hooks books. I think it was all about love. Like, I really want to sit with that. I remember like when I was first introduced the bell, she’s brilliant. God bless her. May she rest in peace but I remember that wasn’t my entry into black feminism because at the time if felt too heavy for me. It was like connecting like a one on one version of this, like, is there a freshman level? So I want to actually, like really reread it from a different perspective. Like I’m the live some life. I’m a grown up. I’m a woman. I’m a mom and all these other things. So I want to spend more time with bell hooks. I want to revisit more Audrey Lorde. And yes, I want to do some revisits and finish up the current book that I’m reading.

Traci Thomas 35:26
You said that that wasn’t your intro to to this feminist thinking and stuff. What was your intro?

Shanita Hubbard 35:32
It was on Dr. John Morgan. Like that she’s once you get heads came out, like she spoke to me in a way that I got, like, it was just like, you know, it was it was brilliant. Like, like, for example, I’m a chapter that I can steal this book came out in the frickin 90s. And I still remember like, yeah, the first time I saw it was like, 99. I remember the first time I read chicken had envy, right? So she was sharing pieces of herself. She was talking about being incredibly jealous of a woman that she felt like was a chicken head because, you know, she got into man, or I think they were the guy who was willing to cheated on her with her. And I remember Oh, my gosh, when I say that, that held up a mirror, because I remember there was a stage where if I just you know, there was women who I felt at that stage in my life, I’m better than her. How was it that she can get you know, this her man to do ABC and D and oh my gosh, is really feeling like I’m better than this quote unquote, chicken head. So I’m really envious of what this black woman is being received. Because I feel like I’m more deserving than she is. And that is something that I didn’t even have language for. That’s something that I didn’t even reckon that even you realize that was in myself. I was so she checked the hell out of me. Right. So that is such a I mean, it was just it was just like, Oh my God, it was me and my, my my room by myself, embarrass reading that book.

Traci Thomas 36:58
I love that. I love that I love when books do that, where you’re just like, Whoa, I need a mirror. Like what am I doing here? How do you decide what you’re going to read next? Like do you use the New York Times? Do you use friends suggestions? Is there websites or bookstores or people that you rely on to help you? Or do you just sort of have a stack that you just keep building from randomly?

Shanita Hubbard 37:22
I am such a nerd. Like all of my friends are not alone, but like my close friends are writers. So I’m always like fangirl and like over their stuff. Like I have friends people that are rocking for real, like they got actual books out. So I’m reading my friends work and then I’m following like my social media accounts. I’m following things like you know the stats, so I’m like, oh, Tracy, God, you know, you posted this book. This sounds dope. Okay, so I’m I don’t think I’ve ever I can’t remember last time I’ve read a book or review from like the New York Times or something like that or any any mainstream media outlet that gave me a recommendation. I was like, okay, but they literally always come from me following like, independent media outlets, like yourself or friends suggestions, and you’re posting all these books. And I’m like, Oh, this is dope. This is okay. And that serves me well, because I’m always finding out about you know, like, really dope books.

Traci Thomas 38:14
Yeah. Oh, I love that. That makes me so happy. What’s a book that you like to recommend to people?

Shanita Hubbard 38:23
Chickenheads, but it also got a new book to recommend to people. So I’m reading I know you know, it is black woman writers at work.

Traci Thomas 38:31
Oh, yes. Okay. You’re liking it. Girl. Yeah. Featuring

Shanita Hubbard 38:35
Maya Angelou. Winterless broads, Nikki Giovanni. Like I’m always recommending that and also, I always recommend to and I try to do this myself. Read other genres, right? It really helps you to hone your own craft. And for me, I do I try to read more. I’m now I’m reading more poetry because it’s so when it’s good girl is good. It is so succinct and so brilliant. And it helps you to develop better language right now. I’m reading as polled poetry book called black girl go home.

Traci Thomas 39:06
Oh my god. It’s so good. Jasmine man. Yeah,

Shanita Hubbard 39:09
I got to like pay five and I had to whip out my pen. I’m already taking notes on like writing

Traci Thomas 39:14
a perfect companion piece for your book, actually. And you just said that but it is a really good companion.

Shanita Hubbard 39:23
you know, I found out about that book. This was so crazy. So I was actually on my I saw my I got the James Baldwin fellowship where they awarded to like 12 Black Americans who write quote in the spirit of Baldwin. So they fly you to France, you stay for a month and you’re supposed to be working on your work. And you know, they even have somebody cooking for you and stuff so that you can really focus. So dope. I was excited. And then COVID hit so I wasn’t able to do it. Right. So we had to push it back a couple of years. So by the time I was able to go, which was in September, my book was already done, and then I didn’t even have the capacity to stay for four I’m off because it’s September and I got a kid. So I was like, Listen, I’ve been waiting. Let me just go for two weeks. Anyway, so I was there. And I ended up being a book reading, like I just did like an international book read. And they just set up different books. For me readings. For me, I got some writing done, but it was fantastic. So one day I was, and I took the I took a flight that was in Paris, and then I took a flight down to the south of France. And I went to like this perfume shop. And I saw, you know, a black woman. And you know, how we are whenever we are in spaces, predominantly white spaces, and we see each other from across it, don’t it don’t take nothing but a head nod. And then we That’s it. We’re like magnets. So the now because I was by myself, and it was what it proved. And she was wearing, you know, a bunch of girls, so we’re just like talking. And then she was like, What are you doing here? So I told her I was here, you know, like the fellowship and a book reading. She’s like, Oh, my friend just wrote this book. She’s I can’t believe I don’t know the name. And I was like, You’re a bad friend. So we’re laughing and joking. And then like, right before, we’re about to leave the Black Rock home. That’s what it is. So that’s how I found out about that book.

Traci Thomas 40:57
Oh, I love that. I love that. Well, it’s so so good. I devoured that book. It’s highly, highly recommended. i Yeah.

Shanita Hubbard 41:04
I’m gonna be on social media, I need to connect well,

Traci Thomas 41:08
yeah. Are there any things about your reading life that you wish were different?

Shanita Hubbard 41:13
I wish I had more time to do it. I actually, I find that I don’t know if this is the case for just all writers. But I read so much slower, because I’m always like, Oh my gosh, what a beautiful sentence structure. Oh, my gosh, you know, suddenly I’m looking at the story. I’m thinking about what you’re saying. I’m thinking about the word play like so it just makes me read slow. I don’t know how to turn that part of my brain out. It’s kind of like if someone was a director and they’re watching movies. I don’t think they watch it like you and I watch it. Right. So that’s how I read books now and it makes me it makes the pace a lot slower.

Traci Thomas 41:47
Hmm. And are there any you said? You’ve been trying to read more widely, but are there any genres that you’re just like, not into?

Shanita Hubbard 41:55
Girl? Um, for some I can I’m not into romance novels all my freak my girls. She’s honey, Miss Shameka Erby, she writes romance novels. And she is the only one that I would actually romance novels that I could read. I don’t know if this counts as romance novels, but I’m a whisper. So no bites my Mama, don’t hear me. But when I was little, I used to resign honey.

Traci Thomas 42:20
Okay, so. Okay, so I think people have said it. I was never a romance person. And one of my goals this year is to try to just incorporate a little bit more romance into my reading life. And I sort of like it. I’m not as into the romance, but I am into the like, quick, the quick pace. I like that they just like go and I know where they’re going. And it feels like a rom com. But I it’s definitely a genre that I’m I’m trying to sort of learn more about because I know that it’s really important and valuable. And I know that it’s so meaningful to so many women and that’s why it’s been shed on so much. So I’m like, let me go check out what’s going on over here. But it’s definitely as a nonfiction lover who likes investigative journalism and like murder, it’s definitely a departure for my reading life. What’s your ideal reading setup? If you’re gonna have if you have all the time in the world to read? Where are you? What snacks and beverages Do you have? Is it warm? Is a cold? Are you on the beach? Are you in a blankie? Are you on an airplane? Are you in your bed, set the scene?

Shanita Hubbard 43:22
So I have this thing when I’m reading and when I’m writing, which is very weird. Like when I’m writing if I need to get in my zone. I don’t care what season it is I got to throw it’s like it got to be hoodie season I throw my hoodie like I actually need to put my hood on because I need to I guess it makes me feel like I’m in my cave or my zone. And when I’m reading it’s similar like I loved on my sofa, right with my hoodie on with my hot tea and my blanket just curled up on my couch like I’m not really like a in a bed reader it definitely like a sofa reader with a pin somewhere close to me because you know how we do grow. We got to mark it up and add it in a margin.

Traci Thomas 43:57
What kind of D tea are you drinking? And how do you take your tea?

Shanita Hubbard 44:01
Oh, wonderful question. I like chamomile tea at night. We’re just some some honey and then I also like just green tea in the morning. I’m trying to be more of a tea person and less of a coffee person. So give me a gold star. I’m trying to say

Traci Thomas 44:15
well I’m not a coffee person at all. I only drink tea. I think coffee is nasty. And I’m very much a taste person so like if something doesn’t taste good I don’t want to have it so like I don’t like a lot of alcohol because I don’t like the taste of it. So like if I can find a good cocktail I’m very end but if I can taste any alcohol I’m like I hate this. And that’s how I feel about coffee. So it’s not a moral judgment on coffee drinkers. It’s just a personal taste thing but I love a black tea with sugar and milk like creamy and sweet.

Shanita Hubbard 44:44
That’s my go to wait you got a honey and tea type of girl?

Traci Thomas 44:47
No I use sugar. Oh, the honey. Sometimes the honey makes it different. Makes the tea taste different. I will put honey and chamomile because I think it enhances the flavor but like honey in an urn old gray or an English breakfast I think is weird. Like you get that weird like honey tastes doesn’t work for me.

Shanita Hubbard 45:05
I can see that. I can totally see that.

Traci Thomas 45:07
Yeah, I take my tea like, like a Brit, like a British person. That’s what they tell me like, I went to a tea shop once and I was you know, it was like this huge tea shop. What floor to ceiling like tea tin. I’m talking to the guy and I’m telling him what I’m like, and he’s like, Oh, so you like sort of like a like more like cold colonizer blends? And I was like, Excuse me? Like, did you just call me a fucking colonized? I was like, so the way you said it.

Shanita Hubbard 45:39
Use different language like,

Traci Thomas 45:41
I was like, I think that’s like maybe how they talk about it in tea. But I was literally like, well, you know what, I’m gonna call him nice walking the fuck out of his tea shop. Because you just called me like a Queen Elizabeth the first. I like turned to my friends. And I was like, you just call me a colonizer?

Shanita Hubbard 46:01
That’s crazy. I don’t even know what I would have said.

Traci Thomas 46:05
I was so shocked. But I also was like, You know what? I do? Like, I don’t like green tea. I like the like, I like the like URL. I don’t know what it is. But that is what I like. So I couldn’t even like be mad because he was right. But I also was like, I don’t know say it different. Like, will make me feel bad.

Shanita Hubbard 46:28
Saying different.

Traci Thomas 46:30
Yeah, for sure. Um, do you have any favorite bookstores?

Shanita Hubbard 46:34
Um, mahogany bookstore and DC is I really oh and Harriet and Uncle Bobby’s and Philly. I love love, love, love, like small independent, like black owned bookstores like Barnes and Nobles and stuff is fine, but give me like a really quaint, cute, like old school bookstores with like, you know, the smell of coffee in the background. That’s me. Obviously.

Traci Thomas 46:58
I’ve still never been to Uncle Bobby’s. But Mark Mark came on the show. And he talked a lot about it on his episode. And it was really nice to hear him talk about his Uncle Bobby and the show it and the bookstore itself. So it’s on my list. When I get out there. I want to go there and Harriet’s. Okay, what’s the last book that made you laugh?

Shanita Hubbard 47:16
That’s such a good question. Um, oh, I think ironically, is Kansas. But you know, Candace Marie bembo. Right. She has this book. I love the title. It’s like for, for black girls who cook something for black girls who consider tithing to the beauty supply store when the church wasn’t enough. So it’s just wonderful. It’s like, you know, she’s a theologian, but she’s a feminist theologian, and this is really brilliant. And I didn’t expect to laugh at it. She’s funny.

Traci Thomas 47:47
I love that. What’s the last book that made you cry? The movement made us What’s the last book that made you angry?

Shanita Hubbard 47:56
It might have been oh, gosh, I remember. I there’s probably others. But this one stands out because it still makes me angry. And I read it years ago. Darnell Moore’s no ashes in the fire. Yeah. So much about it. It just made me want to just fight people.

Traci Thomas 48:11
That book is so beautiful, too. It really is. It really is his love of his mom and her love of Him. And just like still, I think about it all the time. What’s the last book where you felt like you’ve learned a lot?

Shanita Hubbard 48:27
Oh, you know what, just intensely is book. Book about it was on a dream. He is a it’s not that I learned more about big his life. But Justin is such a brilliant investigative journalist. Like remember when I said earlier about I read books differently now. So I’m reading a book and I’m like, This is wonderful. how in depth you went with this interview in this subject. Like, he really helped me to think deeper and step my game up just as a as a journalist.

Traci Thomas 48:53
Yeah, I love that book. I learned a lot. I’m from California. So Biggie was never really a part of my like, world, because I’m, I’m a little younger than you. And so I was only like, 10 when he was killed, but I had an older brother. And so I knew, like Tupac was much bigger in my consciousness. And so going back and reading that book, I was like, Whoa, I didn’t know any of this. Oh, I love that book. Yeah, just, you know, like, time and place when you’re a kid, especially like before the internet was really bang and like, yeah, it determined so much about what you understood. And like, you know, I remember when I went to college, and I was talking about e 40. And people were like, who and I’m like, What are you saying, What do you mean? Is he funny? And I was like, right? Not everybody’s from Oakland. Like not everybody’s gonna have a feeling about his face. You know?

Shanita Hubbard 49:43
I am so embarrassed about my lack of knowledge about west coast rappers. I took me a while like, you know what, I think I’m a little bit of a East Coast premise when it comes to like hip hop. So I

Traci Thomas 49:56
I think we all are like that, like people from the South are always talking about like Memphis rappers and I’m just like, I don’t know, it’s not for me. Like, it’s just, we all have our it’s like, it’s you know, it’s like everything is like what you were raised on, like, sure I can appreciate it. But like, there’s something about too short, that’s just gonna do something different to me than it’s gonna do for y’all. And I get that and I respect

Shanita Hubbard 50:18
over here, like what you mean require a steal on your playlist? Hmm.

Traci Thomas 50:23
That’s exactly right. What’s a book that you’re proud to have read?

Shanita Hubbard 50:31
Oh, I think um, is it cotton candy in a rainy day with? It was this collection of poems by Nikki Giovanni?

Traci Thomas 50:39
Yeah. What’s a book that you’re embarrassed about? Never having read?

Shanita Hubbard 50:45
Don’t tell my business. Traci, if I tell you this, okay. Okay. So the Great Gatsby, and you put that on your list, right? We talked about I was like, Girl, I never, never read that book in my life.

Traci Thomas 50:57
I read it in school. I really want to do it on the show. I gotta find someone who will do with me. But there’s this whole theory that Jay Gatsby who’s like the lead, like the like rich guy is passing for white, black guy passing for white in the 1920s. There’s like a school of thought about this. And I really want to read the book on the show with that lens. So I’m, I just keep throwing it out to everyone. Like, does anyone want to do this? And everyone’s like, no, man. Someone will do it with me. I gotta find the right person. But I just keep asking, like, who knows? Someone will do it. Um, what about a book you would assign to high school students?

Shanita Hubbard 51:34
Oh, heavy, like, heavy? I would assign that to high school students. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 51:39
Okay, I think I just have one more, which is, oh, I guess two more? What’s a book that’s influenced your professional career?

Shanita Hubbard 51:48
I’m John Morgan from chicken heads came home to roost. Like she really showed me that there’s a lane here.

Traci Thomas 51:55
And then here’s my last one for you. If you could have if you could require the current president of the United States to read one book, what would it be rather than?

Shanita Hubbard 52:03
Rattle guy, manifesto for the well being a black woman. Honestly,

Traci Thomas 52:10
I love that I love this energy.

Shanita Hubbard 52:13
And that’s not just me being self serving, right? Like I really do believe and know, like, you know what the Combahee River collective stated that like, when you censor the need, or some of the most marginalized, in the community in the world, like you center everyone. So we all grow like center our knees and he’s a black woman is going to be a domino effect. Because our needs are not just our needs. So that was I wouldn’t just be being like I really want people to send to us.

Traci Thomas 52:39
But even if you were just being self serving, you wrote a whole last book and Joe Biden needs to read it. Yeah. So I’m tracing both for the reasons but also for the self serving reasons, because those reasons are important too. And while you’re at it, Joe Biden, listen to this podcast, talk about it. Okay, well, we’re done for today, but you’re going to be back on March 29. We’re discussing Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I’m so excited because you’re such a good feminist. So I can’t wait to hear about bad feminist. I haven’t read the book. But you have so I’m really excited to get to revisit it with you and for me to get to dive in for the first time.

Shanita Hubbard 53:17
Oh, I’m excited to thank you so much for having me and I’m looking forward to coming back.

Traci Thomas 53:22
Thank you for coming and everyone else. We will see you in the stacks

All right, y’all. That does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening and thank you to Shanita for being our guest. Remember Shanita will be back on March 29 to discuss Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. If you love the show, and want insight access to it head to patreon.com/the stacks to join the stacks back and make sure that you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you’re listening to this podcast and if you listen through Apple podcasts or Spotify be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stats. Follow us on social media at the sacks pod on Instagram and at the Stacks pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stackspodcast.com This episode of the stocks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designers Robin MacWrite. The Stacks is created and produced by me, Traci Thomas.

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