61. The Weight of Wellness with Akili Nzuri

“Are you sure, sweetheart you want to be well? …Cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.” Toni Cade Bambara opens her novel The Salt Eaters with these lines – questioning both the protagonist AND the reader to decide if they want to take on the weight of wellness. Reading this book is unlike any other reading experience we’ve had. It feels like trudging through mud, and in this episode Akili assures us that that means that The Salt Eaters is working!?!? Akili shows us, and all our listeners, what it means to be a smart Black man, as he makes one of the hardest books ever look easy, and hits on the many interesting points listed below:

1:35 The Story Behind Akili’s names

6:41 Listening to only jazz for a year

9:25 Akili’s reading journey

12:04 What it means to be a smart Black man

15:44 “When you want something, you have to go after it”

19:35 Trudging through mud with the Salt Eaters

20:46 Taking the Wakanda Leaf to the Ancestral plane

24:51 Who is the main character? What’s going on?

26:33 How the Salt Eaters deepened Akili’s understanding of wellness

31:52 How Akili would teach The Salt Eaters

37:30 Toni Cade Bambara’s legacy

40:02 The Character of the South in the book

45:43 Akili’s time as a rapper

48:30 30 minute freestyles

53:17 It’s not hard to be smart for 60 minutes

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