Practicing What I Preach: ABENWA Month

As a Person of Color who adores all things media, it often comes to my attention that in my media consumption I center a predominantly white narrative and am experiencing the world through a white gaze—a gaze that I do not share by virtue of my being a Person of Color.

In 2016, I encountered the ABENWA blog that had presented the challenge of only consuming media that was created by or starred People of Color. They embarked upon this journey for a full calendar year, but I had only found them in late August. Rather than dismiss what was, to me, a brilliant idea, I decided to join in the fun for a month.

My first annual ABENWA month was excruciatingly difficult for about 10 days as I purged most of what I had been listening to, reading, and watching (not realizing just how much of my media consumption centered non-PoC), but it eventually became second nature. I created a Spotify playlist so as to not be caught off guard by that darn Spotify Discover playlist, I found How to Cake It on YouTube (I hadn’t realized how much YouTube I watched and how few of my favorites were people of color), I found new books to read, and, by the end of the month, I was still happily continuing to consume the media I had discovered.

Get to the point, I know.

The point: September is ABENWA Month

Starting today, all of the media I consume will be produced by/featuring People of Color.

How am I doing this?
I’ll lay out the rules and some resources below if you want to come along on this journey with me.

Disclaimer: Anything you need to watch/read/do for work or school is excluded from ABENWA month. This is an exercise for your personal consumption, not a study in how mad you can make your supervisor. Don’t stop doing your job, y'all.

 

What I Can Read

Literature
MUST be WRITTEN by a person of color (yes, even biographies). This includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc.

My to-read list:
Shadow Shaper, Daniel José Older
Surpassing Certainty, Janet Mock
Born a Crime, Trevor Noah
Origins, Neil deGrasse Tyson
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series, NK Jemison

 

Comics/Graphic Novels
Protagonist MUST be a Person of Color (even better if that Person of Color is written by a Person of Color).

My comics list:
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther run
BLACK
Watson and Holmes, Karl Bollers
March

 

Blogs/News
Articles/Pieces MUST be WRITTEN by a Person of Color regardless of the media outlet.

(This one is hard, I can’t lie. I’m not even very good at it, but I am still trying. Feel free to recommend some great PoC bloggers or journalists I can follow in the comments).

 

What I Can Watch

Film
Protagonist MUST be a person of color (again, even better if that PoC was written/directed by other PoC)

My Film List:
Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Middle of Nowhere
Beasts of No Nation
Concussion
Selma
Wadjda

 

Documentaries
Yes, this has to be its own section because there are so many documentaries out there about People of Color.
Documentaries MUST be DIRECTED by a Person of Color. (I need more of these; help!)

My Documentaries List:
13th

 

TV Shows
Protagonist MUST be a Person of Color

My TV List:
Insecure
Atlanta
Queen Sugar
Master of None
Power
Jane the Virgin
Empire
Fresh Off the Boat
Black-Ish
How to Get Away With Murder
Underground

 

YouTube
Content Creator MUST be a Person of Color or FEATURE a Person of Color. (Yes, collab videos count. Barely.)

My YouTube List:
Markiplier (Let’s Play/Gaming)
Jackie Aina (Beauty)
How to Cake It (Exactly what it sounds like)
Kathleen Lights (Beauty)
Michelle Khare (Fitness)
Jouelzy (Everything, really)
Evelyn From The Internets (All the things)
IISuperwomanII (You probably already know her)

 

What I Can Listen To

Music
Artist MUST be a Person of Color

My ever-growing playlist:
ABENWA (Redux)

Note: I do not include artists that are accepted by the public as non-poc in my playlist (Halsey doesn’t need my help). Also, I generally don’t put PoC who are extraordinarily famous on this playlist (Michael Jackson, Beyonce, etc) but I still listen to them throughout the month.

 

Podcasts
MUST be PRODUCED/FEATURE Person/People of Color

There is a wonderful list of practically a billion PoC podcasts, here.

 

I will try to keep you all updated on the month’s progress and any great discoveries I’ve made (I found Sampha last year right before he took off, so I’m hopeful). Comment your recommendations below and I’ll see you on the other side!

 

Want Weekly Updates Sent Right To Your Email?

Comment

Lashelle Johnson

Lashelle (a.k.a. Ella) is a Munich-born writer, creator, and all around world-saver.

She holds a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of English from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research interests lie in the intersection of predictive analytics and social policy, ranging from using machine learning to predict negative externalities to crafting evaluative techniques for foreign social policy. Her creative interests revolve around utilizing words to create universes, evoke emotion, and promote action. She writes and curates non-fiction content for QuailBellMagazine.com, has two novels in the works, all while working as a research associate at a University. You could say she's a Jill of all trades.