Birmingham Reads: “Decolonizing Language”

Birmingham Reads

Please join PEN America Birmingham for an interactive community discussion on marginalization, language, and identity. Using Imani Perry’s South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation as a discussion guide, this conversation will cover the troubling complexities of slavery. 

The Birmingham Reads Project is a citywide literary event dedicated to engaging and uniting Birmingham community members in reading one book of fiction or nonfiction in one given year. This year’s selection South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation (winner of the 2022 National Book Award for nonfiction), by Birmingham native Imani Perry, is an ambitious accounting of the beauty, tragedy, and history of the Southern United States.

Teaching artist Brianna Jordynn “B.J.” Wright, along with their co-presenters, will lead attendees through a conversation that will integrate the complex legacy of slavery and utilize library resources to explore southern culture and heritage.

Please note: You don’t have to have read South to America to enjoy this dynamic and interactive event.


Teaching Artist

Brianna Jordynn “B.J.” Wright headshotBrianna Jordynn “B.J.” Wright is a writer, educator, and scholar based in Birmingham, AL. In 2019, she graduated cum laude from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, obtaining her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Anthropology (minor in Women’s Studies) and African American Studies (concentration in Historical Investigation and Cultural Awareness). She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Africana Studies from Georgia State University (concentration in Community Empowerment). She takes inspiration from classic scholars such as Dr. W.E.B. Du Boise, Zora Neale Hurston, Harold Cruse, Audrey Lorde, Dr. Huey P. Newton, bell hooks, and Toni Morrison. Her current research interests include, but are not limited to the impact of language policing on Black adolescents, the role of Blackness in comics and anime, and conceptually defining the Master’s House.



Jahman Hill headshot

Jahman Hill is an award-winning poet, playwright, professor, filmmaker, and executive director of The Flourish Alabama. In 2018, Jahman claimed the title of 3rd best slam poet in the world, and in 2019 he wrote, produced, and starred in an award-winning one-man show, Black Enough, which played off-Broadway. An internationally-acclaimed poet, Hill is the 2021 recipient of the Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Arts Fellowship in poetry, and his poetry videos have garnered millions of views online. Jahman is a professor at the University of Alabama where he received Master’s degrees in both Communication Studies and Women’s Studies. He is the director of Poetry University, an online poetry education organization. The core of Jahman’s creative work centers around “The Flourish”, or the idea that Black people are infinitely possible beings.

This project was made possible by: 

In partnership with:

PEN Across America Birmingham chapter logo