Defender Associate Editor, Aswad Walker

Some nameless writer and her latest book “Miss Pearly’s Girls Credit: SNAP KIDS PHOTOGRAPHY


So, a successful writer friend of mine, who shall remain nameless (ReShonda), and who has written somewhere between 50 and “50-leven-million” books, had several made into movies and has won every award under the sun, recently walked into a local Barnes & Noble. Why? Because this nameless writer chick (ReShonda) heard that folk wanting to buy the book saw none on B&N shelves. When nameless asked for the book, a store attendee went into the back and discovered 10 copies buried in a box. Apparently, this is not new — books by Black authors left in backrooms.

Amazingly, B&N and others say they don’t want to carry books by Black authors because they don’t sell. I wonder why. The myth that Blackfolk don’t read is just that. A myth. B&N needs to do better. But maybe WE need to do better and spend our dollars at Black-owned bookstores so our authors don’t have to be dissed like that.


While the U.S. is figuring out how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Houston-born pro athlete Brittney Griner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury has been detained in Russia for several weeks. According to Russian officials, Griner was detained on drug charges for having vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. But you have to remember, Russia has a long history of treating Americans like the U.S. treats Blackfolk: they lock folk up for bogus, non-existent stuff all the time. But whether she had the vapes or not, there are more layers here.

Russia is seriously anti-LGBTQ, a team Griner rides with. And then there’s the reason Griner was playing in Russia’s pro league in the first place. As commentator Jeff Johnson pointed out in a recent “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” episode, because gender pay inequity is real even for pro athletes, nearly all WNBA players have to support their income by playing overseas during the WNBA off-season. And then there’s the fact that Griner’s a sister. Has it made the news? Yes. Would it be the top story on every news segment, every day, every second, if she was white? You already know.


The world’s hearts are understandably going out to Ukrainian refugees. News reports aplenty have broken down all the negative impacts of being a war-induced refugee, including the psychological impact of losing jobs, homes, loved ones, normalcy, etc. Refugees remain in exile (away from their homeland) for five years on average, with lengths ranging from two to 20-plus years.

Media outlets hit us hourly with refugee tales meant to pull at our heartstrings so we feel empathy for their plight. And on this topic, U.S. media and politicians have been what they always claim to be — colorblind. Not that they treat all refugees the same regardless of race. Rather, they’ve been blind to the humanity of refugees of color. Most recently, when Haitian (Black) refugees fled violence in their country and stood at the Texas/Mexico border, the talk wasn’t about their humanity or trauma, but rather “the evils” they bring, and their personal moral failing for being in that predicament. Just sayin’.

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...