The south is no stranger to natural catastrophes. Hurricanes, floods, and tropical storms are disasters in which most southerners have had enough practice to operate straight from memory, not needing a playbook. But the recent winter event caught many southern states off guard. In Texas, failed power grids leaving millions of Texans without power swarmed headlines. In southeast Louisiana, where I live, thousands, including myself, were left devoid of electricity due to treacherous icy conditions afftecting power lines.

Usually, my Valentines’ posts start with something like, “I said I wasn’t going to do it. Not this year. I wasn’t going to write about being single on Valentine’s Day. Then I would lament how after recovering from Thanksgiving and Christmas social shenanigans sans a partner, little time is given after the new year to exhale before the holiday cards are steamrolled off the shelves replaced by Valentine Cards and stuffed animals, some the size of people.

Then I would pretend to enjoy looking at all the couples on social media and Facebook’s #ValentinesDayCouplesChallenge as I eat a row of…

By now, most have seen The Real Housewives of Potomac’s Monique Samuels’ epic takedown of Gizelle Bryant on Part 1 of the RHOP reunion special. Gizelle is known as a mean-girl, a snarky instigator, throw a boulder and hide her hand kind of a woman. She is the ex-wife of Jamal Bryant, the lauded senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. The demise of their marriage in 2009 was public and scandalous, with tales of adultery and kids born outside of the marriage heaped upon Jamal Bryant. …

For many, the arrival of fall season, sweater weather, generates an onslaught of frenzy. Pumpkin spice everything, HBCU tailgating, football games, matching holiday pajamas, and Spotify Wrapped lists are anticipated with the same exuberance as waiting for the winter candle sale at Bath & Body Works. At the crack of fall, sleeveless shirts and spaghetti-strapped sundresses, shorts, and crop pants are replaced with long sleeve pullovers, wool jackets, and belted cardigans. Sandals and flip flops are swapped out for knee-high boots, fuzzy socks, and Uggs. Summer barbeques fade into a distant memory, replaced with swanky holiday shindigs.

I am a…

In the Black community, it is not uncommon to have a nickname. If you’re Black and don’t have a nickname, some would argue that it’s grounds for revoking your Black card. Nicknames in the Black sphere are rites of passage. To many, nicknames are bestowed upon as early as birth. If you’re born with a funny shaped head, then there is a chance you will be called Peanut. Or, in adolescence, if you’re bigger than your peers, you will be named a combination of “Big” and your name. For example, Big Gary, Big Mike, or Big David. …

I once saw Walter Mosley at a writer’s conference in Austin. Standing next to him, I was at a loss for words. When I gathered myself, I told him that I was in love with Easy Rawlins. He smiled, sheepishly, and said he would tell him I said hello. At least I think that’s what he said as I stared straight ahead and prayed that I would fade into obscurity.

It was an awkward moment for me, and I’m sure, a forgettable one for him. Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, the famous protagonist in Mosley’s Easy Rawlins mystery books series spanning from…

Four years ago, in August, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, experienced what was known as the Historic Flood of 2016, or what the locals called, “our Katrina.” The record level rainfall, more than what fell during Hurricane Katrina, deluged most of Baton Rouge and surrounding areas, killing 13 people, and destroying or damaging approximately 100,000 homes. It was the worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

South Louisiana is used to storms and hurricanes. Louisianians pride themselves on storm preparedness. Cars are filled with gas in the event a quick getaway is needed. Gallons of water and…

Reading a good book is my favorite thing to do. Books have provided a welcome escape to the stressful demands of masking, sanitizing, social distancing, working, and everyday living during this pandemic. When I read, I am transported to a place of joy through the written word. Whether it’s a book about Angela Davis discussing The Meaning of Freedom or a novel about a Black babysitter accused of kidnapping the white toddler she’s babysitting, like in Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Now more than ever, books are essential.

The effects of reading a book are healing. During World…

I struggled with calling myself a writer, although it has always been a part of my life. While neighborhood kids were outside playing until the sun disappeared, I preferred to be indoors writing about the various characters that introduced themselves to me, their voices demanding to be heard.

I didn’t know what to label this itch that insisted upon being scratched until I read J. California Cooper’s essay in I Know What the Red Clay Looks Like: The Voice and Vision of Black American Women Writers’ by Rebecca Carroll. Cooper said, “I don’t analyze my writing patterns, but there are…

Enough time has passed for us to bask in the glory of the fourth season of HBO’s Insecure. We’ve had a moment to digest the “Lawrence, you are the father,” bombshell dropped in the last episode of the season. We were able to get our lives back, laughing at the internet names bestowed upon Lawrence’s girlfriend, Condola.

Crayola, Condola Oil, and Condolences are my favorites.

This season didn’t disappoint. The Issa and Molly drama and Tiffany’s post-partum issues were captivating. …

Erica L. Williams

MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Work has appeared in Necessary Fiction, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Blood Orange Review, & elsewhere.

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