Juliana Jewels Smith
Juliana "Jewels" Smith is the creator and writer of (H)afrocentric that features four disgruntled undergrads of color and their adventures at Ronald Reagan University. In 2016, Smith took home the Glyph Award for Best Writer for Volume 4 of her independent series. She was also honored by the African American Library and Museum of Oakland with the first annual Excellence in Comics and Graphic Novels Award. She created (H)afrocentric as a way to challenge students and readers alike about the presumptions around race, class, gender and sexuality through character dialogue. She has given talks about the relationship between comics, humor, racial justice, and gender equity at The Schomburg Center, New York Comic Con, Studio Museum of Harlem, The Cooper Union, and more.
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For more information about Juliana "Jewels" Smith, click here.
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Meet Juliana 'Jewels' Smith!
(H)afrocentric Comics: Volumes 1–4
Author: Juliana “Jewels” Smith • Illustrated by Ronald Nelson • Colors/Lettering by by Mike Hampton • Foreword by Kiese Laymon
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 136
Subjects: Art-Comics / African American
Glyph Award winner Juliana “Jewels” Smith and illustrator Ronald Nelson have created an unflinching visual and literary tour-de-force on the most pressing issues of the day— including gentrification, police violence, and the housing crisis—with humor and biting satire. (H)afrocentric tackles racism, patriarchy, and popular culture head-on. Unapologetic and unabashed, (H)afrocentric introduces us to strong yet vulnerable students of color, as well as an aesthetic that connects current Black pop culture to an organic reappropriation of hip hop fashion circa the early 90s.
We start the journey when gentrification strikes the neighborhood surrounding Ronald Reagan University. Naima Pepper recruits a group of disgruntled undergrads of color to combat the onslaught by creating and launching the first and only anti-gentrification social networking site, mydiaspora.com. The motley crew is poised to fight back against expensive avocado toast, muted Prius cars, exorbitant rent, and cultural appropriation.
Whether Naima and the gang are transforming social media, leading protests, fighting rent hikes, or working as “Racial Translators,” the students at Ronald Reagan University take movements to a new level by combining their tech-savvy, Black Millennial sensibilities with their individual backgrounds, goals, and aspirations.
“Smith's comics ooze with originality.”
“(H)afrocentric is a book that is incredibly contemporary and fits the progressive minds of today's readers. It tackles issues of intersectionality and gentrification in ways that are not only informative but also entertaining. It's unlike any comic book I've ever read.”
—Jamie Broadnax, founder and managing editor of Blackgirlnerds.com
“(H)afrocentric is fully dope, artistic, brilliantly drawn, styled, and wonderfully radical with an awesomely fiery heroine! Juliana Smith and her team are to be commended for this desperately needed political and cultural contribution. Get into it and grab your soapboxes!”
—Jared A. Ball, author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto
For a calendar of speaking events, please click here
- (H)afrocentric: Kirkus -- Starred Review
- (H)afrocentric: Library Journal
- (H)afrocentric: San Francisco Chronicle
(H)afrocentric Comics: Volumes 1–4: A Starred Review
"The novel hosts a multicultural cast of college students who engage politically, blending satire and history for a recipe of topics millennials don’t shy from. Sporting a tank top with the word “Ally” written above a photo of John Brown, perched on top of the literal soap box she preaches from, Naima Pepper is a force to be reckoned with.
Readers will be smitten with Naima, and they will hope for more of her."
(H)afrocentric Comics: Volumes 1–4: A Review
Naima, who is biracial and Afrocentric, yearns for revolution amid her fellow Eu- rocentric students at Ronald Reagan Uni- versity. Wearing a T-shirt of abolitionist John Brown and conjuring conversations with heroes Malcolm X and Fannie Lou Hamer, Naima decides to fight gentrifi- cation and escalating rents by creating the social networking site Mydiaspora.com. She enlists eccentric friends and locals to help out, but setbacks lead to varied suc- cess. In a second story, she tries an intern- ship as a “racial interpreter” but is caught between being frank and accomodating her white supervisor, with whom she disagrees on most things. Inspired partly by Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks, Smith (web series “Sasha & Condi”) aims to write from a feminist perspective about millennials of color squeezed among cultures. Her charac- ters depict individuals who simultaneously wish to blend in and break out of social norms, while her masterly script satirizes attitudes black and white alike, trendy- chic niche preoccupations, political ac- tivism (note slogans on background signs throughout), idealism, and gender stereo- types. First-timers Nelson and Hampton provide realistic, energetic black-and-white drawings. VERDICT Rebels, phonies, fringe- mongers, and the simply clueless take wry hits in Smith’s insightful series. Culture watchers, teen through adult, will find their presumptions challenged as well as much to recognize in themselves. [Previewed in Douglas Rednour’s “Comics Cross Over,” LJ 6/15/17, p. 40-46.—Ed.]Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top
(H)afrocentric Comics: Volumes 1–4: A Review
By Brandon Yu
San Francisco Chronicle
August 25th, 2017
"The first three volumes focus on Naima’s attempt to fund her idea for mydiaspora.com, an “anti-gentrification social networking site, for black folks.” Like many other lines, it can be hard to tell if Smith is being self-indulgent in her social justice leanings, or slyly self-deprecating. The fourth volume, however, takes a fuller shape and sharper satire. Naima struggles to deal with her new job as a “racial translator” and fights with her Fannie Lou Hamer-looking fairy godmother over what it takes to become a revolutionary.
Alongside nicely detailed illustrations by Ronald Nelson, Smith sets up promise for a deeper picture of an ultimately new type of comic."