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Rule breaker, champion of women and education, and recovering sports journalist.

With her new book ‘Make Me Rain,’ the 77-year-old outspoken poet adds to her revolutionary body of work

Portrait photo of Nikki Giovanni against a black background.
Portrait photo of Nikki Giovanni against a black background.

We know Nikki Giovanni as a guiding light, an outspoken truth-teller, and an award-winning author. She’s one of our living legends, an honor Oprah bestowed upon her 14 years ago. But Nikki — as she insists on being called — doesn’t fuss over titles or accolades. “I’m just a poet,” she tells ZORA. That description has become her common refrain and the title of a poem in her newest collection of poetry and prose, Make Me Rain, released today. “All I have are words,” she writes in the poem. “And maybe a bit of hope.” Nikki’s six decades worth of…


The poet and organizer reflects on writing, hoops, and relationships

Poet Mahogany L. Browne made her young adult novel debut in January with Chlorine Sky, a literary gift told in verse. Chock full of resonant Black girl childhood moments, Chlorine Sky is a coming-of-age story about the power and perils of a young friendship and the growing pains it takes to become self-aware and self-assured. We journey through it all with the book’s protagonist, Sky, a teen with mighty basketball skills trying to understand — and accept — who she is and who she is becoming as she experiences colorism and sexism. …


Hey, Fam —

Eight people in Georgia were killed Tuesday night after a 21-year-old white domestic terrorist went on a shooting rampage at three massage spas. Six of them were Asian women. In the aftermath of this horrific racially-motivated and gendered hate crime, the editors of ZORA stand in solidarity with the AAPI community.

While there has been an uptick of anti-Asian violence in the U.S. over the last year, stoked by reprehensible rhetoric, we know there has always been racism against the Asian community in this country. White supremacy in the United States has a lengthy track record of…


Hey, Fam —

After watching Judas and the Black Messiah and The United States vs. Billie Holiday, I gotta say this recent string of historical dramas with a heavy informant POV is not for me. So when Marked Man, an upcoming project inspired by the book Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey, was announced last week, I peeped the synopsis — “Set in the 1920s, Marked Man follows a young Black man who joins J. …


Hey, Fam —

This month, Texas endured a cold snap with record-low temperatures and snowfall. Millions of residents were left without electricity and heat after Texas’ vulnerable independent power grid failed. Some folks had no running water, while others had to boil theirs. Frozen pipes burst. Icy roads were impassable. Dozens of deaths have been reported, but according to the Texas Tribune, experts say the death toll related to the storm is likely far larger.

As the devastation — both emotional and physical — continues to be surveyed, residents and some state lawmakers are demanding accountability and investigations. As they…


Black woman relaxing at home on her sofa.
Black woman relaxing at home on her sofa.

Many of us are either caught up in multitasking a day’s worth of work (for both for the job and home) or frozen on our couches, trying to make sense of the stunning events of the last year. Our bodies are fatigued; our minds are fogged. And while we may already have an intimate (and unfortunate) relationship with exhaustion due to oppressive societal demands, the indefatigable enervation that we are experiencing is on a whole new level.

We need rest. But we’re always telling ourselves, even subconsciously, that we don’t have the time for it.

We must make time.

If…


Creating a repository of jams helps us sustain meaningful relationships

Black woman listening to music on headphones at home.
Black woman listening to music on headphones at home.

A few days ago, my dear friend, Sabrina Ford, texted me about building a playlist with her. She described it as “the cutest friend activity” and insisted “we need to do one.” I was sold instantly. Friendship in the time of Covid is challenging. So any activity to help maintain it is appreciated. And it involves music? Bet. Music is actually one of the ways Sabrina and I first connected.

More than a decade ago, Sabrina and I met while working at People magazine. We bonded over pop culture and concerts (we love us some Teedra Moses, Amel Larrieux, and…


Hearing her words, and her voice, makes the resonance that much deeper and the storytelling that much richer

Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day is my favorite collection of poetry by Nikki Giovanni. It’s been about 13 years since I was first introduced to it, falling deeply in love with the titular poem. I still cling to “Habits,” “Woman,” “Introspection,” and “Crutches,” which deftly declares:

emotional falls always are
the worst
and there are no crutches
to swing back on

Each time I read and reread a poem from Giovanni’s 36-piece collection of truth-telling, it opens me up a little more.

Nearly four months ago, I returned to Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day. Not by text but…


“I want every Black woman to receive the confirmation of resilience and brilliance she rightfully deserves,” wrote Danyel Smith in her stunning opening essay for the ZORA Music Canon last year. This isn’t just a desire. Smith put this into action.

Today, the seasoned and highly-decorated music and culture journalist launched Black Girl Songbook, a Spotify Original show celebrating Black women in the music industry, produced by The Ringer. …


Hey, Fam:

It’s been a joy watching our lil sis Chloe Bailey grow up. She’s become one of the most talented musicians of her generation and grown into a young woman flexing her agency. I know I sound like a proud auntie. I’ll take that. On the flip side, it’s been infuriating to see the reactions of folks who have a problem with Chloe’s public displays of self love and self-possession. So consider me a protective auntie too.

Over the weekend, Chloe — one half of the sister duo Chloe x Halle — got emotional while on Instagram Live as…

Christina M. Tapper

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