What is Black?

A Conversation with Shonda Buchanan, Author of Black Indian

Episode Summary

On this episode, I speak with poet, educator and author, Shonda Buchanan about her new memoir Black Indian. Shonda's memoir is an inspiring story that explores her family's legacy of being African Americans with American Indian roots and how they dealt with not just society's ostracization but the consequences of this dual inheritance. In our conversation Shonda and I talk about the lineage of fierce women in her family; why she wrote the book; how intersectionality of race and identity influenced the writing of her memoir; the impact of her multi-ethnic and multi-racial identity on her as a woman of color; the importance of telling our stories; and how learning about her family's past impacted her. It's a great conversation!

Episode Notes

On this episode, I speak with poet, educator and author, Shonda Buchanan about her new memoir Black Indian. Shonda's memoir is an inspiring story that explores her family's legacy of being African Americans with American Indian roots and how they dealt with not just society's ostracization but the consequences of this dual inheritance.

In our conversation Shonda and I talk about the lineage of fierce women in her family; why she wrote the book; how intersectionality of race and identity influenced the writing of her memoir; the impact of her multi-ethnic and multi-racial identity on her as a woman of color; the importance of telling our stories; and how learning about her family's past impacted her. It's a great conversation!

Shonda Buchanan Biography:
Award-winning poet and educator Shonda Buchanan (1968) was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a daughter of Mixed Bloods, tri-racial and tri-ethnic African American, American Indian and European-descendant families who migrated from North Carolina and Virginia in the mid-1700 to 1800s to Southwestern Michigan. Black Indian, her memoir, begins the saga of these migration stories of Free People of Color communities exploring identity, ethnicity, landscape and loss.

For the last 18 years, Shonda has taught Creative Writing, Composition and Critical Theory at Loyola Marymount University, Hampton University and William & Mary College. An Eloise Klein-Healy Scholarship recipient, a Sundance Institute Writing Arts fellow, a Jentel Artist Residency fellow and a PEN Center Emerging Voice fellow, Shonda has received grants from the California Community Foundation, Arts Midwest/National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Program and several grants from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Her first book of poetry, Who's Afraid of Black Indians?, was nominated for the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the Library of Virginia Book Awards. Literary Editor of Harriet Tubman Press, her second collection of poetry, Equipoise: Poems from Goddess Country was published by San Francisco Bay Press. Shonda's poetry and essays have been featured in numerous anthologies. Freelance writer for the LA Weekly since 1991, and Indian Country Today, the Los Angeles Times and the Writer's Chronicle, Shonda is completing a novel and a collection of poetry about the iconic singer, concert pianist and Civil Rights activist, Nina Simone. For more information visit, https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/black-indian and www.shondabuchanan.com.

Follow Shonda @shondabuchanan.