Tag Archives: Guy A. Sims

Aunt Sadie’s Angel: Book Review

Aunt Sadie’s Angel: A Review

Author: Lisa-Jane Erwin

Illustrator: Lauren A. Brown

Copyright 2015

220 pages

 

Whatever you learned about Heaven in Sunday School…forget it!  Aunt Sadie’s Angel re-imagines the heavenly kingdom as a celestial organization, complete with bureaucracy, professional challenges, political jockeying, miscommunication, and the stresses of doing an eternity of good work.  Author Lisa-Jane Erwin presents the story of having to put aside a lifetime of differences in order to provide care for a young girl.

Elderly Aunt Sadie, only weeks away from being spirited to the Pearly Gates, is throwing paradise into confusion.  The head wing-maAngelsker is not prepared, there is the uncertainty of who her guardian angel is, and worst of all, when Aunt Sadie’s mortality expires, and the granddaughter she is caring for will be left alone.  Angels are scrambling to figure out who her father is and what angelic side of the family will watch over her. Rivalries and responsibilities are called into question, all under the watchful eye of the Most High.

Lisa-Jane Erwin’s writing is clear and direct, painting a heavenly landscape as a place divided by occupations, importance, and activities.  The story reads like a tale told around the fireplace on a Saturday evening, inviting the audience to be spellbound and asking for more.  It requires the reader to suspend preconceived notions of Heaven and the behavior of angels.  Some may find it refreshing to find heavenly residents to continue to have the same human foibles as they did on Earthly plane.

Suitable for younger readers, complete with strong messages of faith, responsibility, and a commitment to serving a higher power.  A common read for a youth group or a summer reading selection.

You can get your copy of Aunt Sadie’s Angel at Amazon.com and lisajaneerwin.com.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  

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Replay: A Cupboard Full of Coats – A Review

THE JOURNEY TO TRUTH IS OFTEN LONG AND OPAQUE.

Reviewed by Guy A. Sims

CFC New

The is the new cover for the U.S. market…it is “Yankee” tight!

Sometimes we have the pain of which we cease to feel…or perhaps refuse to feel. Jinx is a distant mother, mortician, an ex-wife, and responsible for her mother’s death. She’s a ball of pain, pressure, and questions which cannot be quelled by either isolation or destinationless running. For fourteen years she has held the guilt of jealousy, hatred, and loss until a familiar stranger knocks at her door.

A Cupboard Full of Coats, the maiden voyage novel of Yvvette Edwards (note the double Vs in her name…that’s how the sisters do it in London), is an intimate journey of unresolved pain, misunderstood understanding, restrained loss, and unresolved love. Drawn in close quarters, Edward’s protagonist, Jinx, has lived a life walled by her guilt of causing the death of her mother; manifesting her guilt through the disconnection of her son and estrangement with her husband. Edwards crafts an environment which gets more and more emotionally claustrophobic as Jinx’s life is illustrated as one confined to both the home and her memories.

The tension rises like a pot of boiling ox-tail stew with the sudden appearance of a long-time family friend, Lemon. Though with reluctance, she invites both him, memories, and truth to come sweeping into her self-made prison. Through the Caribbean delicacies prepared by Lemon, memories conjured by the wine, and unfolded mysteries disguised as casual conversation, Jinx is pushed down Memory Lane to a place of confrontation and truth. The journey is suspenseful, funny, painful, and sensual. Suspense is the ingredient which brings the final satisfaction to the reader’s intellectual palate. Issues of jealousy, abuse, abandonment, and desire fill the rooms of Jinx’s home with a cupboard full of coats as the conduit for what was and what could have been.

Edwards brings to her readers across the pond a snapshot of the unfamiliar Black life in London. She illustrates the confluence of American and Caribbean culture with an East End vibe. Her passion, humor, and exposition brings to readers an understanding of her world beyond the Hollywood and tabloid descriptions of London.

Yvvette Edwards has lived in London all her life. She grew up in Hackney and is of Montserratian-British origin. Yvvette continues to live in the East End and is married with three children.

Listen to Yvvette discuss her book right here.

Publisher: Amistad, 2012

Pages: 275

Click here to secure your copy of A Cupboard full of Coats

Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  

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Jenga: Mizzou Version

jengaRemember the classic block stacking game Jenga?  Players are faced with a tower of wooden blocks, taking turns removing them one at a time, replacing pieces onto the top, until it becomes unstable and falls?   For those who are patient, committed, and “in the game”, it is exciting to watch a once solid structure become wobbly…and when the right piece is removed, the exhilaration of the crash signifying a victory.

The events taking place currently at the University of Missouri are reminiscent of the game Jenga.   Students have been sharing their experiences of racism, racist behavior, and other instances counter to the institution’s Statement of Values, specifically Respect and Responsibility…just like Jenga game pieces.  Removing them from the long-standing foundation of campus culture and placing them on top for all to view…and waiting to see what happens.  And like the game, even though pieces are removed, the strength of the culture allows for the structure to remain in place.  But unlike your rainy Saturday afternoon game of Jenga, the real-life version has players that come and go, semester after semester, year after year…with the game being reset…no true resolution.Mizzou

This week, a major piece of the University of Missouri version of Jenga has been extracted.  Yes, graduate student Jonathan L. Butler (Blue Phi) was steadfast on nearly two weeks of a hunger strike after seeing a swastika drawn in human feces (now you know that’s straight nasty).  One piece removed.  Yes, the #ConcernedStudents1950 student group had a loud, profound, and viral protest.  Another piece removed.  But the power play of the day was the members of the football team, along with their coaches, issuing their statement of solidarity with their own champion-style strike, refusing to play anymore games until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed from his office.  With millions of dollars on the line, a public relations nightmare…oh yeah…and the duty to do what is right, the University of Missouri Board of Curators announced Dr. Wolfe’s resignation.

Tim Wolfe

Pres. Tim Wolfe

The tower falls! Or does it?

One thing about Jenga, after the structure collapses there is a mess all over the table.  Mom and Dad aren’t going to let you just walk away and get a snack…it has to be cleaned up.  The tower is rebuilt and ready for a new game.  This is the challenge for the Mizzou community.  When this tower is put back together, serious discussions on what will be different has to take place.  One person may be gone but the culture remains.  That is what has to be addressed or the same old game will be played over and over and over.

This is an academic and cultural watershed moment that should not be squandered.  It is a chance to fully involve everyone (because everyone is impacted) in the resolution of what the community can and will be.  In fact, it should be exciting.  Reinvention is the hallmark of progression.  It can be done, the time is right, and the University of Missouri is the place.

Wishing the best for you…Mizzou.

Oh, by the way, did you know that Jenga is a Swahili word meaning, to build.  Now is the time for the community of the University of Missouri…to Jenga.block

Guy A. Sims is the author of the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation. He is also the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.     Contact or comment at guysims.com or @guysims6 

 

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Tim Wise: Cultural Provocateur by Guy A. Sims

Tim Wise

Tim Wise

Tim Wise began his comments at Virginia Tech with a caveat…a bit of clarification…perhaps even a spoonful of keepin’ it realism.  No surprise…what he came to deliver was not anything different from the messages people of color have been sharing, promoting, explaining, and demanding in classrooms, boardrooms, cubicles, and neighborhoods.  Only this time it was presented in a package a little more palatable than what may have been the norm.  It was akin to a parent no longer giving their child Castor Oil in a spoon but now it is in a gelcap.  Same medicine…just easily swallowed.  The goal, to massage the words of Malcolm X, was to administer the medicine by any means necessary.

Mr. Wise, if you’re not familiar, is an anti-racism activist, an author, lecturer, and cultural provocateur (I added that one myself, we’ll get to that one later).  His books, White Like Me, Dear White America, and (hold on for this one) Speaking Treason Fluently Anti-Racist Reflections From An Angry White Male speak to address, illuminate, and dismantle structures of white privilege, cultural mis-education, false notions of power, and the head-on challenge of having serious and action-oriented conversations on equity and diversity.

On this evening, like many of his presentations, Tim Wise was speaking primarily to his white brethren and sisterens.  A deep rooted son of the south, Tim peeled back the onion of history, of Americana mythology, of institutional practices of divisiveness, and the mental shackles that bind us all.  His peeling, slow and easy, doesn’t produce tears.  His delivery, complete with self and cultural-effacing humor and rife with majority-generated information for the data-driven doubter, brought a paced and steady rise of discomfort for many in the audience.  Tuned in observers may have noticed that numbers of people of color present served as the choir, offering their call and response to this guest preacher in the House of Diversity & Equity Elevation.

Tim Wise challenged misrepresented rhetoric presented in the form of mainstream logic when addressing Black Lives Matter, immigration issues, and deadly police interactions with people of color.  He challenged those unable to connect racialized issues of today as another troubled link in the history of race relations in the United States. He challenged the very core of belief systems that define how people view their place as human beings.

Tim Wise and Guy Sims

Tim Wise and Guy Sims

As a cultural provocateur, Mr. Wise stirred the senses and notions of those in attendance.  At times it was uneasy to laugh, to agree, to look at your neighbor, or even at yourself.  I asked him at the conclusion of his visit did he feel he was getting any traction with his message.  He said on the grand scale, maybe not.  But individually, people who say their lives and thinking have been changed…yes.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  The journey of a better world begins with one person.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation. He is also the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.     Contact or comment at guysims.com or @guysims6 

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REDEFINING FAILURE by Guy A. Sims

I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process. ~ Oprah Winfrey

Thank you Oprah!  The above quote is a great way to start.  I’m writing in response to a blogpost by a very intelligent and talented young man (I’m classified as an old head so I can say this) named Roye Okupe.  I’ve never met him but I have read his works and several articles on his interesting journey.  In his latest entry, Creating An AfricanSuperhero: Don’t be afraid to fail, Okupe shares trials many creative artists and individuals have experienced when reflecting on where they are in their artistry.  After reading his perspectives, I found myself in agreement, saying my man is right, as he described personal revelations on his comic character and the market.  If I had his phone number I would haveI would have texted him a quick been there-done that just to let him know he’s

Printed with permission by artist.

Printed with permission by artist.

not alone.  I concurred with what he expressed but what bothered made me really sit back and ponder was the use of the word fail (or failure).  Don’t get me wrong.  Okupe used the word correctly, appropriately, and with clear and concise impact.  Even his closing sentence, “I will always do my best not to allow fear dictate my future, because I would rather fail while chasing my dreams than look at myself as a failure 20 years down the road because I didn’t try”.  I knew exactly what he was saying.  I just think it is important for artists, especially those of color who desire to further their culture, to think differently about what failing means in relationship to their artistry.

One of the greatest challenges we have as artists is to realize that failure and success are concepts that have no authority over our work.  To put it like this, failure is an artistic impossibility and success is an uncharted and unreachable destination.  Our minds have been trained to respond to the extremes; winning, losing…failure, success…fame, obscurity.  If we stay locked into these concepts we’ll continue to measure our work with incongruent scales.  For example, if one team scores more than another, you have concrete values to work with. On the other hand, works of creativity are often judged by a standard defined by a momentary marketing-based appraisal.

Printed with permission by artist.

Printed with permission by artist.

This is not to say one should dismiss criticism, opinions, or sage advice.  The acceptance of constructive criticism as a means to build on skill should be part of the tool kit of any artist.  To deny your work and label it a failed effort based on someone else’s assessment is to deny your very essence.

 

 

When my brothers (Dawud Anyabwile and Jason Sims) and I developed Brotherman, many people told us straight to our faces: How y’all gonna make a black superhero and They’re not going to let you sell those in comic book storesBman3 or (one of my favorites) If it’s not blessed by Marvel or DC then it’s not going to make it.  There were more statements, everything from how Brotherman looked, to being drawn in black and white, to having an all-black cast, to the size of the book.  It would have been easy for us to give it up and go back to doing whatever we were doing back in ’89. Fortunately, our spirits and persistence was fortified by lessons taught by our parents.  We stood firm in the knowledge that we had something to give to the world, not simply individuals or niche groups.  We had something inside of us that needed to be expressed.  Most of all, we knew that everything we did connected to the next link in the chain.  Because of Brotherman we have met so many talented artists, new friends, and fans.  We have had opportunities come our way unrelated to comic books.  We work, not from the framework of success or failure, but through growth, impact, and the knowledge we can do more.

I really appreciated the part in Okupe’s piece where he shared how someone called his animation, not only rubbish but complete rubbish.  Undaunted, he took the animation and used it to serve as the foundation which brought his book to fruition.  Check it out here.

As artists, we have to believe that everything has its time and place…and we don’t have control over that.  The book you produce that sells ten copies may one day find itself in the hands of someone you do not even know.  They get inspired and one day they reference you as their motivation.  Perhaps that’s what your book was supposed to do all along.

We are preparing to launch out latest work, the Brotherman: Revelation graphic novel.

No one can show how it will be received or how many will sell.  What we do know is that once it is fully realized we will have impacted the world…a fact that transcends failure or success.

I am thoroughly impressed by the work of Bro. Okupe.  I read his book, E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams with my youngest son who now has picked up pencils and paper to draw what’s on his heart and mind.  I look forward to one day sitting down with Bro. Okupe to discuss the kinds of things that further what we are trying to do.  From there, both of our universes will be expanded.

To me, that is the scale to measure our artistry by.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation. He is also the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.     Contact or comment at guysims.com or @guysims6 

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The Case for White History Month by Guy A. Sims

WHM

Note: This has been updated as things haven’t changed.

It’s almost February 2016 and I didn’t have to wait long.  Every year inevitably there is a post or a tweet or blog asking the question, “So when is White History Month?”  Grant me the leeway to be naive and receive this inquiry at face value. I will even go as far as to set aside the response that Every month is White History Month for the sake of argument.  I strongly believe that each and every one of us have the inalienable right to have our interests, culture, and perspectives heard and recognized. That is what makes this country, the United States of America, great.  In addition, to Black History Month there are Women’s History Month, Hispanic-Latino Awareness Month, Asian-Pacific Month, and other cultural recognitions.  We also have Irish-American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and Italian-American Heritage and Cultural Month.  To add more dates to recognize on the calendar there is a veritable cornucopia of days highlighting everything from popcorn to dentists to grandparents to encouraging smoking cessation.  If we have room on the calendar to celebrate all of these, why not a White History Month?

 A White History Month could be a wonderful compliment to the diverse ingredients that make up the Great American Melting Pot.  Of course, it goes without saying, White History Month has to be more than a collection of trivial facts and happenings but a comprehensive look at the history and the impact on history through the Caucasian/white lens.  The time should be set aside to recognize trailblazers, those who sacrificed in the face of adversity as they worked to move the culture forward, as well as events serving as milestones of pride and motivation.

 My recommendation for the formulation of a White History Month is to draw from the Black History Month blueprint.  In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week as a reaction to the lack of recognition of Negro history and accomplishments in most of the textbooks at that time.  Dr. Woodson promoted the idea of Negro History Week which quickly caught on and was soon celebrated around the United States.  Fast forward, the year 1976 was central to the advancement of this body of cultural knowledge.  The country was celebrating its bicentennial and it was the 50th anniversary of Negro History Week.  It was decided that Negro History Week was to be expanded to Black History Month.  I don’t propose to begin with a White History Week although it might be a good place to start–as a way for it to catch on.  A new cultural recognition often takes time to gain popularity–consider Kwanzaa as an example.  It’s still a hard sell for some African Americans.

 The month of February was selected by Dr. Woodson because two important men in Negro history were born during that month: Frederick Douglas (Feb. 14) and President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). It would be important to identify the month with individuals who best represent the lives, culture, and philosophies of White Americans.  My recommendation would be the month of October.  October is the birth month of President John Adams (Oct. 3) and Bill Gates (Oct. 28).  President Adams was a statesman, diplomat, and a leading advocate advancing independence from Great Britain.  Adams was also opposed to slavery and never owned any (he gets a vote from me).  Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, not only changed the world technologically, he also represents the philosophy of Corporate Social Responsibility with his Millennial Scholarship (another vote from me) and his world-wide philanthropies.  These two individual could serve as the anchors for this period of recognition.

One of the most challenging but equally important aspects of White History Month will be the programs and activities highlighting the month. These programs should be designed to uncover and highlight the trials, the accomplishments, the trailblazers, and unsung heroes and heroines of the struggle.  This is an opportune time to bolster pride in children who feel they have not been recognized, negatively portrayed, or simply absent in history, literature, the sciences, the arts, politics, or merely as citizens.  It is a time to invite dynamic speakers to articulate the connection between the hardships of the past with contemporary issues and the hope for the future.  Moreover, while there may not be a White National Anthem it would be appropriate to conclude your activities with a song while crossing arms (right over left) and holding hands with your neighbor to visually exemplify the struggle, perseverance, and the cultural connection.  As you select the song please remember that the National Anthem belongs to everyone and (for the few who might suggest) Dixie was written by black men from Ohio.  One additional programming note: dismiss the feeling that your programs are not successful if people from outside your culture do not attend or it feels like you’re preaching to the choir.  Remember, others may feel uncomfortable, may not have a white friend to go with, or may not feel the program has anything to do with them.  It’s okay.  Have the program and know there’s more food on the reception table to go around.  You can even wrap some up and take it home (just an insider’s tip).

 Need more of a reason for an attempt at a legitimate White History Month?  A recent tweet gave President George Washington credit for significant work with peanuts, not George Washington Carver.  This is such a slight for all that George Washington has done for the United States.  A White History Month would serve well to provide opportunities to learn so that historical faux pas such as this can be avoided.

I look forward to participating in White History Month activities with my friends who get it and learn an interesting thing or two by the month’s end.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  BCEPressworks.com

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