Tony Lindsay: Writing with a Purpose!

zorafestival2017Every year for the past five years I have taught a creative writing workshop to high school students during Education Day at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Culture in Eatonville, Florida. And every year, I carry out the same exercise before we discuss the necessary tools to good writing of fiction. I ask them to close their eyes and just imagine the year is 2116 instead of 2016, and it is their great grandchildren who are about to read a novel they wrote a hundred years ago. I suggest that novel will reflect who they are and effect how their great grandchildren view them as a writer and person. Furthermore, it will provide every reader in the year 2016, an idea of the condition of our people, and the nature of our society at that time. My intention is to get them to think about writing with a purpose, and the important role they serve when putting pen to paper or given contemporary technology, fingers to computers.

acornsinaskilletI believe if more Black writers would practice the same exercise they might not produce such trashy, inconsequential works of fiction that gut our communities and reach our children. Maybe some of these writers would put a little more thought into what they publish. Please do not misinterpret what I write; I am not casting aspersions on all our writers. We do have some that give a great deal of thought to their works. One of those authors is Tony Lindsay, an outstanding writer out of Chicago, Illinois. Tony has a MFA from Chicago State School of Creative Writing and has penned seven novels, two short stories and recently completed an anthology of short stories titled, Acorns in a Skillet.

Adhering to our commitment at Prosperity Publications to publish only works that have quality content that are entertaining, enlightening, and empowering, we were proud to be able to publish Tony’s anthology, because it met all our standards. It is a serious work by a serious writer in the same category as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin and Walter Mosley. Tony explains to the reader that his collection of short stories grew out of America’s complex racial interactions. The stories are unsettling in their timely nature, which will stimulate the reader to examine American life and how we live in a country where race matters so intently.

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The constant in these riveting portrayals of American life is race, but not always racial conflict. His collection of short stories is inclusive in the message and ends with a story of unity and a hopeful look to the future; something that every good piece of literature should accomplish and is why we can place Tony in the category of writers with a universal appeal.

tonylindsayI can comfortably state that Tony Lindsay is one of the better Black contemporary writers who refuses to compromise his talent and his message in his writing just to get published. He writes with a purpose because he knows what he puts on paper now will be read one hundred years from now, and he is determined to be remembered as a writer with a message. He has what I refer to as a passion for the art and he places that passion over profit, and that I must admit is very refreshing. He is a throwback to a time when most of our authors wrote because of a burning desire to interpret our world as is, and also how it should be. Those of us who abhor the trashy, sex riddled novels of today must thank Tony for rising above that level and giving us stories that empower, enlighten, and also educate.

I urge you who are serious about reading good and decent works, to reach out and get Tony’s short story anthology, Acorns in a Skillet, and in doing so, make a statement that we do appreciate good writing and will offer our support to those authors who do care about how we will be viewed through our literature in the year 2116.

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“Rooted in the African-American Literary Tradition”

Reliving Bigger Thomas on the Streets in Baltimore

Seventy-five years ago, Richard Wright shocked the country when he created the character Bigger Thomas in his best selling novel, Native Son. In this novel, the author paints a picture of unbearable living condition that Blacks experienced in the inner city of Chicago. The protagonist, Bigger Thomas, personifies the end result of human beings forced to confront racism and poverty.  What was most revealing about Bigger was the degree of his anger and his alienation from the world in which he felt trapped. In order to reconcile his hate for a country that refuses to treat him as an equal, he turns to violence. Accidently killing the white girl serves as a catharsis for him and he then is able to kill again.

In his outstanding narrative history of African American writers and critics, Professor Lawrence P. Jackson writes that, “From start to finish, Wright pointed to the recognition of anger and its potential eruption in violence as primal antidote to racism.” (Lawrence P. Jackson, The Indignant Generation, Princeton University Press, 2011, pg. 115) As I watch the young and alienated Blacks in Baltimore burn and destroy property I think of Bigger. If there was no other escape for Wright’s character than to turn to violence, can we then assume there is no escape for all the young Blacks who are willing to defy logic and challenge a massive police system that they cannot defeat? Just as Bigger was caught, many of them will be captured and sent off to prison. The system may consider incarceration a punishment but they just might consider it freedom.


Many of my young Black brothers and sisters are born into a world filled with poverty, to include dilapidated housing often over run with rodents, roaches and all other vermin in the dwellings, streets and alleys where they live. Richard Wright introduces us to Bigger Thomas, as he is trapping and killing a rat in their apartment. Bigger’s experience is the same that many of our youth encounter today. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade because he found no relevance in education for a black boy. I imagine many of the young Blacks, torching the buildings in Baltimore dropped out of school also.  Bigger and his buddies set out to rob a local merchant in their neighborhood. No different than the young Blacks in Baltimore, who are seen on television stealing merchandise from the CVS Drugstore and the local liquor store. They even invaded a check cashing office, obviously looking for money.

Finally, the great Algerian theoretician and freedom fighter, Franz Fanon, argues in his essay, “The Fact of Blackness,” that Bigger had to do something to relieve all the tension that had built up in him over the years. Much of that tension had to do with the fear and disgrace he felt about being Black and poor in America. That same fear and disgrace transcends to a hatred Bigger harbors toward white people. At the end of the novel when his attorney asked him did he feel any sexual desires for Mary Dalton, the white girl he murders, Bigger responds, “Like her? I hated her! So help me God, I hated her.

Fanon goes on to describe Bigger as a symbol that represents all Black men. There is, however, some exaggeration in Fanon’s representation. But there is also much truth in his writings. I believe that we can honestly extrapolate what Fanon has said to fit the image of many of those young Blacks, who set out to make a statement by burning down their own neighborhoods in Baltimore. No doubt there are many commentators who will dismiss the actions of these young men as those of thugs, hooligans, troublemakers and rabble-rousers. That kind of terminology makes them insignificant and dispensable, and their actions warrant no consideration or credibility.

I am not condoning the violence but only suggesting that just as we have a tendency to criticize the young men and women who turned to acts of destruction, let us be willing to criticize the system that played some part in that kind of behavior. What we cannot overlook is that Richard Wright wrote Native Son in 1940, and many of the inequities in the system that Bigger Thomas confronted and fought, still confront our young. The question I would like to pose is will our youth confront those same conditions of poverty and racism seventy-five years from today and if so, how will they respond?