Listen to our 2-part conversation with Tori Reid and Patrick A. Howell of Victory & Noble on The Nasiona Podcast‘s episodes 30 and 31 “Global International African Arts Movement,” which are both part of our Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series.
Patrick A. Howell and Tori Reid – co-founders and Chief Visionary Officer and CEO for the storytelling company Victory & Noble
Books inspire and teach. The best give us a detailed roadmap to our highest selves. Some are political. Others are motivational. Others still, healing, funny or mystical. All are about freedom of the spirit, the beauty of living as a soul, or the journey of life day by day, millennium after millennium. So, really, our book selections are our close friends and mentors who have helped us to develop into our best selves. We welcome you to our circle of close dynamic friends — a timeless mastermind forum. If you have a magic bag, a cherished bookshelf or a favorite space for your most potent spells that’s where these sacred texts belong. In the human spirit (oftentimes spirit work by the authors themselves) but also within the symphony of our shared humanity.
Morrison meticulously decodes the mitochondria of racism in 18th and 19th century American storytelling. "Playing in the Dark" showers high ultra light beams on the Nathanial Hathorns, Ernest Hemingways, Edgar Allen Poes or Mark Twains stories written with a white male protagonist or uncovering various themes as American freedom. “Playing in the Dark” shows that in American culture and literature, the coded presence of the unheard, the unwanted, or uncelebrated is always there. In American letters, literature and art, white is only white when contrasting with black and freedom is not free. Here are a couple salient quotes from the literary treatise by the Nobel Prize winner of the 21st century:
“As a writer reading, I came to realize the obvious: the subject of the dream is the dreamer. The fabrication of an Africanist persona is reflexive; an extraordinary meditation on the self; a powerful exploration of the fears and desires that reside in the writerly conscious. It is an astonishing revelation of longing, of terror, of perplexity, of shame, of magnanimity. It requires hard work not to see this.”
“Earlier I said that the cultural identities are formed and informed by a nation’s literature, and that what seemed to be on the “mind” of the literature of the United States was the self-conscious but highly problematic construction of the American as a new white man.”
The Ideology of Racism, by Dr. Bing P. Howell; review by Patrick A. Howell
This concise manifesto (104 pages), published in 1999 by Simon and Schuster, is an underground cult- classic used in several curriculums at colleges and universities around the world. "The Ideology of Racism" provides an antedote to the plague of systemic racism and institutional discrimination. "Ideology" is spiritual vaccine. Of course, the author is my father, and I am proudly partial, but "Ideology" is also a spiritual, intellectual and real roadmap to solving the dis-eases of racism and discrimination with keen insights and inclusiveness so desperately sought in the ziegiest of today's America. I believe it is brilliant and a constant reminder to myself of the work ancestors do to ensure the success of the generations that follow. Here is a bite sized sedative from the ultimate health chocolate bar:
“To understand the history of the United States, one has to understand the institution of slavery and its social dimensions and continued impact… The problem of racism will not be solved by ignoring the facts. Rather, it will be solved when the U.S. acknowledges its wrongs and begins to talk about race in a sincere and substantive forum.”
“Freedom from racism is the key to unlock the door to our future.”
"It’s time for us to get to a new dimension! We get to a new dimension by recognizing that new cultures bring different perspectives… We need to respect each other and to change our perspectives in order to shift into a positive direction: away from racism and towards the challenge of reconciliation."
Siddhartha, by Hemann Hesse
“When someone seeks," said Siddhartha, "then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal."
Turns out, not only is transcendental meditation a signpost to our best selves, it is an executive coach. Through his own journey, Siddhartha demonstrates how the premium of focus with purpose can bring us to not only our highest selves but an abiding peace when there is so much vying for our attention in the dog eat dog ecology of Western Capitalism. Rather than getting deals done, however, Siddhartha is on a cosmic voyage of a spirit traveler and explorer.
Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
What if rather than being a Machiavellian pursuit, business is simply a spiritual practice?
It is impossible to pick just one from this business Bible. This much is clear, however: You are the master of your destiny. Napoleon Hill is also a master of the timeless artform of the comeback: “When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”
"Think and Grow Rich" is a book of spells for the timeless artform of manifestation.
Quantum Healing, by Deepak Chopra
How does being a good person, possessing a positive mindset and finding peace translate into total health and well-being? “Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts.” Deepak notes adroitly. As the world constantly suggests, this process is not one that takes place on our computer, smart phone or the silver screens but in the vast cosmology of our spirits: “I cannot be more specific, because the process does not happen in books but in living persons. People have drunk grape juice and recovered from cancer. If you can successfully restore balance to the body-mind, then the patient's immune system will respond.” Wanna live free of toxic systems- Quantum Healing is the way.
Death with Occasional Smiling, by Tony Medina
It is clear to see that Jesus was a conguero
Beating back bongo skins ‘til his palms bled
‘Dame un Traguito’ by Tony Medina
Funk. Fly. F’real. Fresh. I had an advanced copy of the forthcoming opus to our times sent by the award-winning poet and the first professor of creative writing at Howard University. "Death with Occasional Smiling" embodies the intellectual wanderings of William Carlos Williams, emotional genius of James Baldwin and the wide gate of Pablo Neruda uncovering all things Bronx and Harlem under the sun by one of its favorite sons. It is cosmic in its signposting of a master poet Tony Medina, a T.S. Elliot poet-technician of the unfolding American experience that is an America in an ongoing cultural war with itself. "Death" is the celebration with a twinkle in the eye or a wry smile.
Racism is an heirloom passed down through
Generations like a retrovirus
A rifle handed from father to son
Aiming to please some deep-seated heated
Urge to violate rape maim hurt some thing
‘Father, Son Arrested in the Death of’ by Tony Medina
At Victory & Noble, our storytelling company, we recognize poetry as word mood and emotional syrup. Basically, some serious juju. A poet is a novelist jacked on the adrenaline rush that is the spirit populating the mind and animating the hand. Bold pronouncements, sacrosanct revelations, simple truths are in the poet-shaman’s bag of considerable magic-wisdom-funk. And Medina is a modern master. Medina understands that how a poet places a word on the page, can disrupt the universe. Or a soul.
Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley
Before Barack Obama's "Dreams of My Father" spell binded a nation like dopamine to those phenomena of hope and change, Alex Haley collaborated with Malcolm X to pen the ultimate story of American redemption and ascension. Along with Maya Angelou's “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” is the 19th century composition that through its particular angular narrative tells the story of how we all arrived to the present moment. The harrowing and inspirational narrative of an American original is a universal story for all American survivors and thrivers- from the hustler to the saved to savior.
Or, as Malcolm X intimated, "Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from Birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient."
The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz
The wisdom and wealth of Toltec spiritualist and neo-shamanistic texts are translated into layman’s language with the Four Agreements. The Four agreements is deceptively simple in format and language but are translated by spiritual masters who have done the spirit work and then present their work for the uninitiated to participate in its bounty. “The Four Agreements” is broken down into four simple premises; “Be Impeccable with Your Word”, “Don’t Take Anything Personally”, “Don’t Make Assumptions” and “Always do Your Best”. Praised at its publishing by Oprah, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer, it is the master thesis to the masters of our current New Age.
Or, as Toltec spiritualist don Miguel says, “God is life. God is life in action. The best way to say, "I love you, God," is to live your life doing your best. The best way to say, "Thank you, God," is by letting go of the past and living in the present moment, right here and now. Whatever life takes away from you, let it go. When you surrender and let go of the past, you allow yourself to be fully alive in the moment. Letting go of the past means you can enjoy the dream that is happening right now.”
The Spook Who Sat by the Door, by Sam Greenlee; review by Tori Reid
Sam Greenlee once said referring to his novel adapted into his 1973 film, “The paranoid hysteria about The Spook Who Sat By The Door only confirms that I did something that was worthwhile. If they’d given me an Academy Award, I’d have to figure what I did wrong.”
I read the 1969 novel in the nineties and reading it in itself was like attending an HBCU during that time. We, as HBCU students, weren’t asking for anything, we were learning and teaching ourselves how best to take back what was rightfully ours. And we were simply playing by the rules. Their rules. Or, you can think of it in terms of the 2020 zeitgeist. Protesters and freedom fighters are passionately driven about correcting a system that is racist and corrupt. And this was the lead character, Dan Freeman’s motivation. And that was the brilliance of the book. Art imitated life. In this case, instead of government-sanctioned spies, like J Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO, dismantling The Panther Party and killing many Black leaders, Greenlee made the conspirators Black to dismantle the powers that be.
The novel has been described as part thriller, part satire and part social commentary, but I think of it as simply life changing.
A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” Williamson writes in A Return to Love. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." The emotional intelligence packed into "Love" signals the new times in which new books are written after that of Revelations. Whether navigating the Bermuda Triangle of personal relationships or understanding the macrocosm of politics and systems, Marianne Williamson figures it out:
"We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Love wins. “Return to Love” is for all of us who wonder how. Read and heal. This book is source.
So, it has really been an impossible task to top off our recommendations at 10 because the world is filled with magic, shaman and wizard women who conjure and master various dimensional arts, higher planes and spiritual practices, so we leave you with the following, suggesting that earth is a place in the universe where magic, freedom and the ability to manifest any dream in all of its glory:
Blood Orange, poems by Angela Narisco Torres
Olio, by Tyehimba Jess
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Two Thousand Seasons, by Ayi Kwei Armah
Songs of Enchantment, by Ben Okri
Of Water and the Spirit, by Dr. Patrice Malidoma
Capitalism & Slavery, by Dr. Eric Williams
Outwitting the Devil, by Napoleon Hill
The Richest Man in Babylon, by George Classon
The Prophet, by Kahil Gibran
Any one of these works by themselves shifts the nature of material world for its reader. Collectively they stir greater possibility in the world of systems, fine tuning spirits into a field of higher possibility and frequency. As with our greatest minds, these works advance humanity, balancing between the intangible and material worlds. The intangible world is characterized by intuition, reflection and divine inspired. The material is driven by equally powerful affects of ego, materialism and status quo. These works are a conduit between the world as it is and limitless potential. Every single book invigorates and stirs greater possibility not only within the human spirit (often times spirit work by the authors themselves) but also within the symphony of our shared humanity.
Tori Reid is the consummate Hollywood insider and producer with extensive entertainment experience in film and television programming from concept to release. She has an eye for original, revelatory content and a love for filmmaking. Tori is proud to be CEO of Victory & Noble, a storytelling company, as well as host/producer of V&N’s podcast, Here’s To Life with Tori Reid: Inspiring Conversations with Icons, Culture Makers and Outliers. She is also completing her debut nonfiction work, Love Yourself Through It. Her mission is clear – to inspire, educate, and transform others globally through film, television, literature, and digital media.
Tori’s forthcoming book, Love Yourself Through It, is an intimately candid memoir with a conversational tone that takes the reader through the beautiful struggle of finding one’s center and indefinable truth. It shows how much we’re all the same, experiencing highs, lows, and the “why am I here” moments, only to realize the whiplash of it all is for the soul’s purpose of achieving peace, freedom, and the power to champion one’s own life. Love Yourself Through It is like that best friend who comforts you through the tough times, and then asks the tough questions that require you to be honest with yourself out loud. Love Yourself Through It helps to show how we are all worthy of the gifts of self-love… no matter what life is saying to you.
Patrick A. Howell is an award-winning banker, entrepreneur, and writer. His first work was published with the UC Berkeley African American Literary Review and Quarterly Black Book Review. Mr. Howell, is a frequent contributing writer to the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and has been cited in national platforms as equities.com, NBC BLK, and The Grio. Howell’s integrated book of poetry-design, Yes, We Be, was published by Jacar Press in February of 2018. His non-fiction book Dispatches from the Vanguard: The Global International African Arts Movement versus Donald J. Trump was published in the summer of 2020 by Repeater Books in London and distributed by Penguin Random House. Last summer he graduated the Leopardi Writer’s Conference in Recanati, Italy, to complete work on Quarter ’til Judgement Day, a coming of age experimental fiction work.
In his new book, Dispatches from the Vanguard, the public academic, author, and activist Rachel Elizabeth Cargle writes: “There has never been a time of great uncertainty that didn’t produce a windfall of brilliance from the Black community. Dispatches from the Vanguard has collected the wisdom, depth, creativity, insight, joy, critique, hope and brazen boldness from the current windfall being borne out of the crisis that is the current administration. And why does a collection like this mean so much? Because it allows us to transcend by way of the words of those voices we value so much. They lead us, they teach us, and they remind us what is possible. This is a book for those who, in the words of Audre Lorde, are ‘deliberate and afraid of nothing’.”