Reading material for the homies

By Qur’an Hansford

Fatimah Warner is a woman with no name but a lot to say. Chicago rapper and activist Noname strolled onto the music scene with her jazz-influenced sound and spoken word rhymes. She did not hesitate to illuminate her obstacles as a black woman growing up in the southside of Chicago. Her music personifies protest, from her critic our nation’s government, Chicago’s high homicide rate and the transparency of her insecurities.

Entering high school, I became so conflicted with my race, gender and how I would maneuver through this life. Her neglect of conformity of rap, especially female rap, was inspiring.

Noname knew she did not fit into a particular box but did not downplay those who fit into boxes perfect.

Today, Noname is an anti-capitalist rapper-activist and now head of a book club called “Noname’s Book Club.”

“Noname’s Book Club is an online/IRL community dedicated to uplifting people of color (POC) voices. We do this by highlighting two books each month written by authors of color. In addition to our social media presence, we feel it is highly important to have free in-person meet-ups to discuss the monthly picks in a safe and supportive environment. Currently, we have six local chapters with plans for continuous growth,” according to Noname’s Book Club’s official website.

It was inspirational to see this initiative becoming so widespread on social media. Seeing the book clubs taking place in areas such as Chicago (of course), Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and New York, all set in coffee shops, book stores or libraries. To see so many young black and brown individuals in vast numbers post their monthly books, book club merch or book club experience on Twitter was refreshing because reading is still a desirable hobby and loved by many.

One of Noname’s most remarkable projects was her collaboration with prisons advocating education for inmates. Noname has been very vociferous on her opinion on mass incarceration. She wants her fans to explore the intersection of race, justice mass incarceration in the United States and realize the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction. With that, we see how this law is not colorblind, and in fact perpetuate a never-ending cycle of wrongful imprisonment and inhumanity.

“In 2020 we also want to raise funds to send our monthly picks to select prisons in various cities. It is extremely important to us to share work we believe in with as many folks as possible, and none of this is done without hard work,” according to Noname’s Book Club.

For Women’s History month, I wanted to speak of a woman not only who is of my generation, but a woman who is unapologetic in her skin and truth. Noname does not shy away from uncomfortable conversations whether in her politics or music. Being a journalist, I aspire to be that, to be raw and real in every sense without fear of critics and criticism. But, it is her vulnerability with her flaws and imperfections, using them as ammunition for verses and her activism.

In words of Noname, say no to Amazon and shop local.

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