Sports Odds & Ends
It didn’t make Time’s recent “100 Must-Read Books of 2022,” but BLACKTOLD (Andscape Books, October), a collection of Black essays, deserves more than an honorable mention on any book list.
The 33 essays all written by Blacks, edited by Steve Reiss, the executive editor at Andscape (formerly The Undefeated), with “an urgent foreword” by Editor-In-Chief Raina Kelley, is according to its press kit, “a multi-purpose map, serving as a guide through a time when the truth is stranger than fiction.”
“I am writing this foreword to make a point—or rather to put forward a different point than one normally makes in a foreword,” wrote Kelley. “This book is the harbinger of and a balm for a world transformed.”
Kelley’s essay on how Toni Morrison changed her life is one of nearly three dozen divided into four categories: Black Lives Matter (6), American History (7), Arts & Culture (12) and Sports (8). Among the writers featured are William C. Rhoden (2), Justin Tinsley (2), and Dwayne Bray (2) addressing subjects that range from Black culture pre-George Floyd to the racial reckoning America saw after Floyd’s 2020 death in Minneapolis.
“I think the first thing that I want people to take away is that this is not a hopeless cause,” said Kelley in an MSR phone interview. She was in Paris, France en route to a racial justice conference in Germany.
The BLACKTOLD essays document Black life from all angles, told through a Black lens, noted Kelley—”what had happened over the last six years, those moments that we covered in real-time. There were so many great pieces that we could have put in and we just couldn’t. We couldn’t fit them all in.”
A book two, perhaps?
“It’s about understanding ourselves, if anything, without the White Gaze,” she continued. “There is a shared language amongst Black people here in America and across the diaspora that focuses on a point of view that’s not necessarily about [Black] leaders or White viewers.”
Kelley assumed her current role as Andscape vice-president and editor-in-chief in May 2021, succeeding its founding editor Kevin Merida, who launched The Undefeated in May 2016. Before that, she was managing editor and instrumental in its growth.
“It’s been a crazy time,” said Kelley of the name change in February. She wrote at the time, “We do a lot now. But we want to do more and we need a name that can grow with us. AND is for the infinite ways we define Blackness, and SCAPE is for an inclusive, eclectic, and deeply dimensional view of the world.”
BLACKTOLD is just the beginning, Kelley pointed out. “We have a number of books coming out next year. One is the memoir of (former Minnesota Lynx) Maya Moore and Jonathon Irons. And an album coming out in February. And you should see a couple of things from Andscape Studios on your local streaming network.”
Andscape will “continue and grow our digital presence which we have as a conduit to bring more Black viewers to the Walt Disney Company,” who owns it, concluded Kelley.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.