The Tables Are Turned: See What Happens When I Am Interviewed!

Swirl Girl triplicate

By TaRessa Stovall @taressatalks

My fabulous fellow author Chandra Sparks Splond went behind the scenes of my new memoir, SWIRL GIRL: Coming of Race in the USA to give you the tea on me!

Check it out…

Chandra: Why did you write SWIRL GIRL?

TaRessa:  When then newly elected President Barack Obama called himself a “mutt” on global media, I was yanked from my life and creative/business pursuits by my ancestors, who insisted that I write this book. I tried to protest, but resistance was futile. I wrote SWIRL GIRL so no other Mixed-race child has to  Read More


Is Sophie Okonedo the first #Blewish Tony Winner?


The 2014 Tony Awards were mighty chocolate, with five big wins celebrating The Great Black Way.

  • Kenny Leon for Best Direction of a New Play (A Raisin in the Sun)
  • Audra McDonald for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill)
  • James Monroe Iglehart for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Aladdin)
  • A Raisin in the Sun for Best Revival of a Play


And best of all: #Blewish Sophie Okonedo for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role—Denzel Washington’s wife, Ruth, in A Raisin in the Sun.

“In a gracious, emotional speech, [Okonedo) thanked producer Scott Rudin, who ‘somehow had the vision that a Jewish Nigerian Brit could come over the pond and play one of America’s most iconic parts,'” reports the Jewish new site, Jewcy.

Watch the video

“Okonedo, who is a graduate of London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, was born to a Jewish mother and a Nigerian father. She attended a Reform synagogue in London with her Yiddish-speaking grandparents, who were immigrants from Eastern Europe.” Read more

Please join me in sending Sophie a heartfelt “Mazel to the Tov” for bringing #Blewish flava to the Tony Awards!


A Black-hyphen-Jewish Seder in the Land of Civil Rights


When I couldn’t find a #Blewish Seder in Atlanta, I did the next best thing: took my son Calvin, 22, to a Black-hyphen-Jewish Seder in The Temple, a local synagogue.

The Atlanta-slash-Black Jewish Coalition has held this event on alternate years since 1982, when they forged an alliance to ensure that the Voting Rights Act was renewed, and stayed together ever since.

ImageThis Seder was held 11 days before Passover, on Thursday, April 3, to honor the eve of the 46th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.

Calvin and I had attended a Black-slash-Jewish Seder in 2007, when we lived in Montclair, NJ, a liberal, progressive town outside of New York City. My late mother, Rosalyn, came with us and as “a mother who speaks Yiddish and jazz,” (to borrow a phrase from #Blewish author Lisa Jones Brown), she was thrilled. But Calvin, then a teen, wasn’t so interested in his roots, the food was bland, and conversation stalled when I tried to explain being Black and Jewish to the folks seated at our table.

So I didn’t have high hopes for the Atlanta Seder. I knew much more about Black Atlanta than Jewish Atlanta and had next-to-no experience with Southern Jews.  I prepared to be annoyed at best, and deeply disappointed at worst.

But I was pleasantly surprised. The people at our table (a good balance of Blacks and Jews) took Calvin’s explanation of our identities in stride (perhaps because he slightly resembles famed #Blewish rapper Drake), the conversations were pleasant and the food was fantastic.

I don’t usually like matzoh balls, but theirs were superb, floating in chicken soup that rivaled my mother’s (and beat any NYC deli I’d seen). The brisket was truly divine, and I even had more than one helping of gefilte fish, which I normally avoid. In a nod to Black culture, fried chicken sat next to the brisket, and there was a side of mashed sweet potatoes.

The heart of a Seder is The Haggadah–a script for a choreographed ritual meal. Haggadahs can vary widely in style and tone. This one, read by Father Jeffrey Ott, O.P., of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and Rabbi David Spinrad of The Temple, hit just the right notes.

Along with the traditional Jewish script (which had sufficient English translations of the Hebrew for everyone to follow along), their Haggadah included relevant quotes from Julius Lester, Bob Dylan, Nelson Mandela, Langston Hughes and Barack Obama. References to the enslavement of Black Africans were interwoven with the story of the Jewish exodus from Egyptian enslavement.

ImageAnd a sign of progress: an orange on the Seder Plate to represent gays, lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community.

Sure Calvin and I seemed to be the only #Blewish folk in the room of about 200. And there were no great moments of synthesis. But the Father and the Rabbi did a great job, the energy was positive, and it was a beautiful way to honor a moment of blending traditions in a part of the country that still bears blatant signs and attitudes of Jim Crow. As the room vibrated with the traditional song of gratitude, “Dayenu,” and the strains of the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome,” I felt my mother’s spirit smile down upon us.

Every group should have the equivalent of a Seder: a yearly ritual meal where each bite symbolizes ancestral history, tradition and culture. From time to time, different groups could share their meals with people they view as different from themselves. The 2014 Atlanta Black-hyphen-Jewish Seder was still very much about the hyphen, but it was also a warm, enjoyable reminder that when people reach past barriers to break matzoh and explore commonalities, the results can be deliciously divine.