VIRTUAL: Adam Smyer in conversation with Deesha Philyaw

Join us on zoom for a conversation between Adam Smyer, author of You Can Keep That to Yourself: A Comprehensive List of What Not to Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor and Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Click here to watch Adam's PSA: What NOT to say to Black people

About You Can Keep That to Yourself: A Comprehensive List of What Not to Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor:

"In this slim and witty volume, attorney Smyer collects an alphabetized short list of things not to say to African-Americans...Each entry is designed to strip away the hypocrisy and half-truths of these cultural exchanges by laughing at them. Smyer's hilarious sampler offers astute observations on race and culture." —Publishers Weekly

Greetings, well-intentioned person of pallor.

Your good intentions used to be enough. But in these diverse and divisive times, some people would hold you accountable for your actions. You were not raised for such unfairness. You need help. And help you now have.

Let Daquan–that black coworker you are referring to when you claim to have black friends–help you navigate perilous small talk with African Americans with this handy field guide. This portable bit of emotional labor puts at your fingertips a tabbed and alphabetized list of things not to say to black people. Finally

How to use: Keep this handbook close. Whenever you are confronted with an African American and you feel compelled to blurt out an observation about her hair or to liken your Tesla lease to slavery, ask for a moment to consult this reference. She'll wait. If the keen insight you want to share is listed herein, You Can Keep That to Yourself. It truly is that easy.

Adam Smyer is an attorney, martial artist, and mediocre bass player. His nonfiction has appeared in the Johannesburg Review of Books, and his debut novel, Knucklehead, was the sole title short-listed for the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Smyer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and cats.

About The Secret Lives of Church Ladies:

“Tender, fierce, proudly black and beautiful, these stories will sneak inside you and take root.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Triumphant.” —Publishers Weekly

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.

There is fourteen-year-old Jael, who has a crush on the preacher’s wife. At forty-two, Lyra realizes that her discomfort with her own body stands between her and a new love. As Y2K looms, Caroletta’s “same time next year” arrangement with her childhood best friend is tenuous. A serial mistress lays down the ground rules for her married lovers. In the dark shadows of a hospice parking lot, grieving strangers find comfort in each other.

With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.

Deesha Philyaw’s writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington PostMcSweeney’s, the RumpusBrevityTueNight, and elsewhere. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, she currently lives in Pittsburgh with her daughters.

Event date: 

Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

VIRTUAL

Ticketed Event: 

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You Can Keep That to Yourself: A Comprehensive List of What Not to Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781617758966
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Akashic Books - September 1st, 2020

At long last, a much-needed guidebook for well-intentioned people of pallor on what not to say to their African American "friends."

"This book is the perfect jumping-off point for much-needed conversations about how to be an anti-racist. It's extremely short and very accessible. I wish I could give this book to everyone."
--Avid Bookshop, Staff Pick


The Secret Lives of Church Ladies Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781949199734
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: West Virginia University Press - September 1st, 2020

***2020 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction***
“Tender, fierce, proudly black and beautiful, these stories will sneak inside you and take root.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Triumphant.”
—Publishers Weekly
“Cheeky, insightful, and irresistible.” —​​​​​​


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Age Group(s): 

Adult (19 - Boomer)

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