Shonda Buchanan’s powerful narrative and dense, vibrant language passionately showcase her black Indian heritage. Having escaped from a swampland to Tennessee and later to Indiana and Michigan, the author’s determined family surmounts the odds and thrives as Indian, Mulatto, Colored, and Black. Recounted in riveting detail and sometimes raw parlance, the poems in this multifaceted volume shed light on the author’s growing awareness of a need to celebrate an ancestry through verse and vernacular, memorable and spiritual.
–Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Poet Laureate of Virginia, 2006-2008
Who's Afraid of Black Indians? is a difficult yet beautiful collection of poetry that peeks into one American family's cultural window. Wanting to forget the past, this chapbook of poetry explores the journey Shonda’s ancestors took from North Carolina to Tennessee, to Indiana and finally Michigan, and the flight and fight to escape racial persecution and racial classification. Yet it is also a book about the recovery of an identity--the intersection of Blacks and Indians in this country. Shonda and her family, like so many other “bi-racial” Native Americans, suffered from not knowing their full roots, and the ills of assimilation, all the while and enduring society's ever-evolving definition of them. This book will hopefully help other Black Indians, as well as bi-racial and tri-racial peoples, research, reclaim and celebrate their multifaceted heritage.
The title of Shonda Buchanan’s new poetry collection asks a question: Who’s Afraid of Black Indians? It’s a powerful question and the book is powerful: an awakening for some, a storehouse of memories for others, a clarification of American history for all. It is also an embrace; the author embraces her lineage and autobiography and self, and because she shares these things with the reader, the reader, too, is embraced. A lovely, eye opening, generous, and fascinating collection!
–Kelly Cherry, Author of The Retreats of Thought: Poems; Poet Laureate of Virginia, 2010-2012