Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, United States, Women on 2019-02-21 02:24Z by Steven

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Atheneum Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Simon and Schuster)
September 2019
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN 13: 9781534440838
eBook ISBN 13: 9781534440852

Katherine Johnson

The inspiring autobiography of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped launch Apollo 11.

Throughout Katherine Johnson’s extraordinary career, there hasn’t been a boundary she hasn’t broken through or a ceiling she hasn’t shattered. In the early 1950s, she joined the organization that would one day become NASA, and which had only just begun to hire black mathematicians. Her job there was to analyze data and calculate the complex equations needed for successful space flights. As a black woman in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges and often wasn’t taken seriously by the scientists and engineers she worked with. But her colleagues couldn’t ignore her obvious gifts—or her persistence. Soon she was computing the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s first flight and working on the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon. Katherine’s life has been a succession of achievements, each one greater than the last.

Katherine Johnson’s story was made famous in the bestselling book and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Now in Reaching for the Moon she tells her own story for the first time, in a lively autobiography that will inspire young readers everywhere.

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It’s a state of mind I’ve grown with since becoming a mother in 2013 and realizing how much representation matters and how important it is to me that our kids be exposed to all cultures, yes, but to my blackness in particular.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-02-21 02:21Z by Steven

I have never felt more black than I do in this current climate. It’s a state of mind I’ve grown with since becoming a mother in 2013 and realizing how much representation matters and how important it is to me that our kids be exposed to all cultures, yes, but to my blackness in particular. Perhaps this is why it jarred me so to hear someone question my connection to Simone. She is of me, as is her brother. Someone questioning our connection felt like a dismissal of her blackness.

My paternal Bajan side, my maternal Polish side, my family’s immigrant experience, the minority experience—all of these things make up who I am and I have a desire to make sure our kids comprehend it all. But it’s my blackness that I have come to see as crucial. Theo and Simone will grow up with white privilege due to their appearance, just as I have privilege as a light-skinned woman of colour. So I want them to feel connected to their black roots, through music, food, stories and traditions.

Alicia Cox Thomson, “I’m black, therefore my kids are, right?,” Today’s Parent, January 31, 2019.

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Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2019-02-21 02:12Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
June 2019
295 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-240-5

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Canada’s history is bicultural, Indigenous, and multilingual, and these characteristics have given risen to a number of strategies used by our writers to code racially mixed characters. This book examines contemporary Canadian literature and drama in order to tease out some of those strategies and the social and cultural factors that inform them.

Racially hybrid characters in literature have served a matrix of needs. They are used as shorthand for interracial desire, signifiers of taboo love, images of impurity, symbols of degeneration, and examples of beauty and genetic perfection. Their fates have been used to suggest the futility of marrying across racial lines, or the revelation of their “one drop” signals a climactic downfall. Other narratives suggest mixed-race bodies are foundational to colonization and signify contact between colonial and Indigenous bodies.

Author Michelle LaFlamme approaches racial hybridity with a cross-generic and cross-racial approach, unusual in the field of hybridity studies, by analyzing characters with different racial mixes in autobiographies, fiction, and drama. Her analysis privileges literary texts and the voices of artists rather than sociological explanations of the mixed-race experience. The book suggests that the hyper-visualization of mixed-race bodies in mono-racial contexts creates a scopophilic interest in how those bodies look and perform race.

La Flamme’s term “soma text” draws attention to the constructed, performative aspects of this form of embodiment. The writers she examines witness that living in a racially hybrid and ambiguous body is a complex engagement that involves reading and decoding the body in sophisticated ways, involving both the multiracial body and the racialized gaze of the onlooker.

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Afro-Descendants in Latin America

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-21 02:10Z by Steven

Afro-Descendants in Latin America

Rayburn House Office Building
45 Independence Ave SW
Room 2247
Washington, DC 20515
2019-02-26, 11:00-12:30 EST (Local Time)

Hank Johnson, Host
United States House of Representatives (GA-04)


  • Ofunshi Oba Kosso, Yoruba Cuba Organization
  • Carlos Quesada, Race and Equality
  • Crystal Yuille, WOLA
  • Euclides Rengifo, UNIAFRO
  • Alessandra Ramos, TRANS FORMAR, Brazil

Please join Rep. Hank Johnson* for a discussion on the state of Afro-descendants in Latin America. Our panel of experts will illuminate many of the rights and liberties under threat in Latin America, and how a productive relationship between government and civil society can promote inclusion, justice, and equality for Afrodescendants in the region. Panelists will also speak to the importance of the UN designated International Decade for People of African Descent in globally combatting racism and discrimination.

*Rep. Johnson is the sponsor of H.Res 133—Supporting the goals and ideals of the designation of January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2024, as the “International Decade for People of African Descent.”

RSVP to Chelsea Grey at

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