What Are You Reading? Crystal C. Mercer

I am Crystal C. Mercer, just a little girl from Little Rock, Arkansas. All-around Afro-Creative, Textile/Fiber Artist, Actor, Activist, Poet, Author (A Love Story Waiting To Happen), Founder and Creative Director of Columbus Creative Arts + Activism, and Lead Designer and Merchant of Mercer Textile Mercantile. I fuse arts and activism by using theatre, poetry, and textiles to tell social justice narratives, through merchandising and storytelling, with an emphasis on uplifting voices of color and making marginalized populations visible. I am the daughter of legendary late civil rights lawyer, Attorney Christopher C. Mercer, Jr., and I honor his legacy by using art as a tool for empowerment, education, and social justice. When I’m not saving the world, I love reading, listening to jazz, traveling, and being an Auntie!

What are you reading at the moment or what is next on your list?

I am reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a gift from my baby brother, Justin. The language is colorful, descriptive, and hauntingly beautiful. Because I’m a poet, I love reading books of poetry, so this is the first novel that I’ve read in a while. Though the format is different, the words are a song that leap from the page and it is truly poetic in its own way. When I lived in Accra, Ghana last year, I joined a book club that focused on African Women authors… thinking about what’s next on my list will most definitely include writers of color. I enjoy seeing myself in the world through literature and knowing that my stories and experiences are seen and deemed worthy.

What children’s book do you wish every child could read?

My favorite books as a child were The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe. They are currently classics that I reread often and have shared with the young people in my life. A new classic, to be published Fall 2020 with Et Alia Press is my children’s book! From Cotton to Silk: The Magic of Black Hair is a children’s book that chronicles two sisters, Gisele and Elise, and their love for their hair in its natural state. The story is sprinkled with #BlackGirlMagic and is an ode to cultural beauty. What is most unique about this book is the use of textiles to tell the tale, each page a hand-stitched masterpiece, blending cloth, culture, and the superpowers of the kinky, curly coif!

What role has reading played in your life?

Reading has played a significant role in my life. My mother, Pamela, taught me to read by using the grocery coupons from the Sunday paper. When we went to the store, if I couldn’t spell something that I wanted, I couldn’t have it. Needless to say, I learned really quick, and I was reading before I was two years old. Both of my parents read to me regularly and encouraged me to be confident when I read. Because I’m an avid reader, I’m a better writer, because I write well, I’m a better communicator, because I communicate well, I connect deeper with humanity. It is this certainty that guides my art and activism and fuels my work to collect and preserve the epic record of human history through the lens of Black womanhood.