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What is it like to be a young, Black, American woman traveling in Southern and Eastern Africa? In her new novel, No Blame, No Shame, No Guilt, Leoma James explores the profound experience of being surrounded by Africa’s natural beauty and vibrant culture while also realizing the harsh realities of racism and the long-term implications of colonization in Africa. Through short stories and poetry, James exposes readers to the different racial relations present within each story, allowing them to draw their own conclusions about racism and white supremacy.
James only has one request: that readers consider what they know about history and current events and reflect on how they have contributed to the racial relations that exist within society today. Who is to be blamed for the gross discrepancies we see and experience? Who should feel shame for the perpetuation of colonial ideals? Who is guilty for the dramatic and disproportionate physical and mental brutality invoked against Black bodies?
In the 139th episode of Town Hall’s In the Moment podcast, Charlie James interviews Leoma James about No Blame, No Shame, No Guilt: The Diary of a Mad Black Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa.
Leoma James is a young Black poet, storyteller, activist, and educator from Seattle, Washington. She primarily writes poetry and short stories that focus on the Black experience, from a global standpoint. Leoma is a world traveler who extended her studies at Washington State University through the Knowledge Exchange Institute in Nairobi, Kenya. Leoma also served in Namibia with the U.S Peace Corps from 2017-2019 as a Secondary English teacher and has traveled extensively through Southern and Eastern Africa. Leoma is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Education at the University of Washington and has the desire to support students who are disadvantaged academically and socially due to race, income, immigration status, and language barriers, as well as people with disabilities.
Charlie James has been an organizer in the Black American community for most of his life, beginning at age five after he led black kindergartners into the Michigan school system in 1956. A leader for Black students throughout his schooling, Charlie became the founder and First President of the Black Student Federation at Lake Michigan Junior College and was named a Ford Foundation Scholar. After receiving death threats due to his community activism, Charlie left Michigan and came to the University of Washington in Seattle, where he became the President of the Black Student Union and an editor for the UW Daily. Today, Charlie is a well-known editorial writer for every major newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, including his own platform, the African American Business and Employment Journal. He is also the founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Seattle and one of the founders of Northwest African American Museum. He is currently in the process of writing a book called The Survival of Black America and is a proud father of three daughters.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.