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  • The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire presents a community dialogue Claiming Our Place: Blacks in 'White Spaces'

    Portsmouth, NH: The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire has launched the 2021 Elinor Williams Hooker Tea Talk Series, a free virtual series, Claiming Our Place: Blacks in “White Spaces.” As a way to rethink one’s assumptions about race and place, these six Sunday Tea Talks explore how African Americans navigate various “white spaces,” spaces where Blacks and People of Color are marginalized, typically absent, or simply unexpected. Through shared stories and dialogue, panel speakers will present ideas and offer opportunities for understanding and reconciliation. Presented by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire and sponsored in part by a grant from New Hampshire Humanities, these winter Tea Talks are a series of participatory lectures related to New Hampshire’s Black history and African American culture. The first Tea Talk discussed Racism, Land and the American Farming Landscape.


    The second Tea Talk, Writing while Black: The Afrofuturistic Writer is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 14, 2-4 p.m. Three authors will explore Black voices and characters in a literary genre where they have been historically absent. For writers of color, the distinction between science fiction and fantasy, two imaginative genres, is often blurred. Access to the scientific knowledge from which science fiction is often derived has been denied to people of the African  diaspora for much of history. The Eurocentric classification of what is and is not scientific is frequently a matter of dispute. The panel will discuss Black writers and characters in a genre where they have not been expected to excel.

    Presenters include Nisi Shawl, an African American author of science fiction and fantasy short stories.  Her story collection, Filter House (2008) won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.   

    Reynaldo Anderson is Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of the Humanities Department at Harris-Stowe State University in Saint Louis, Missouri and serves as an executive board member of the Missouri Arts Council.  He publishes extensively in the area of Afrofuturism, communication studies, and the African diaspora.  

    Sheree Renee Thomas is an award winning fiction writer, poet, and editor whose work is inspired by myth and folklore, natural science and the genius of the Mississippi Delta.  She was honored as a 2020 World Fantasy Award Finalist in the Special Award – Professor category for contributions to the genre.

    Dennis Britton, Associate Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, will serve as moderator.  His research interests include early modern English literature, Protestant theology, critical race theory, and the history of emotion.  


    The third Tea Talk, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2 -4 pm, will discuss Race and Care of the Soul. Following the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, mass protests across the country forced us to face the actual consequences of racism in a new light. In conversation with a prominent spiritual author, Thomas Moorethe panel will explore the effects of racism on the collective and individual soul.  Basing his writings on the ancient model of “care of the soul”, which provides a religious context for viewing the events of everyday life, Moore examines the connection between spirituality and the problems of individuals.  He suggests a therapeutic lifestyle that focuses on sacredness in ordinary things.  Now, more than ever, we need to pause intentionally to encounter the Divine, or sacred, and to ponder, not just in our minds but also in our hearts and souls, the deeper significance of race and racism, equality and justice in our own and others’ lives.

    Thomas Moore is the author of the number-one New York Times bestseller Care of the Soul.  He has written twenty-four other books about bringing soul to personal life and culture, deepening spirituality, humanizing medicine, finding meaningful work, imagining sexuality with soul, and doing religion in a fresh way.  Moore is also a psychotherapist influenced mainly by C. G. Jung and James Hillman.  In his work, he brings together spirituality, mythology, depth psychology, and the arts, emphasizing the importance of images and imagination.  He earned a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Syracuse University.  

    Moore will be joined by Reginald A. Wilburn, Associate Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire. 
    He specializes in African American literature and culture, Milton, and intertextuality studies.  His monograph, Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt: Approaching Milton in Early African American Literature (2014), is the first work of literary criticism to theorize African Americans’ subversive receptions of John Milton, England’s epic poet of liberty.  Wilburn is recipient of two UNH teaching awards, and mentors students in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. 

    The Rev. Lauren Smith, former co-minister of South Church Unitarian Universalist, Portsmouth, NH, will serve as moderator.  In 2019, she was appointed Director of Stewardship and Development at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).  Her ties to Unitarian Universalism stretch back five generations.


    For information and to register for these programs, all of which are free, visit http://blackheritagetrailnh.org/tea-talk/