Food History of Napa County, California

My second book, Lost Restaurants of Napa Valley and their Recipes, was published. six months ago today! Like my first book, Hidden History of Napa Valley, it looks the history of marginalized communities in Napa County. However, Lost Restaurants focuses on food history. As I wrote in the preface, this book is concerned with “the people who grew and harvested the ingredients, the cooks who prepared it, the staff who served it, the restaurateur who manages the business, the first people who invented with the original dish, and the people who appropriated it into something else.”

In honor of the six month publication anniversary, I thought I’d post a few excerpts from Lost Restaurants.

Continue reading “Food History of Napa County, California”

How Labeling Books as “Diverse” Reinforces White Supremacy

Every so often, the question of whether or not to add a spine label designating “diverse” books makes the rounds. Many condemn the practice, but lots of library staff persist in labeling. Like most diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues in librarianship, many of my colleagues are still operating within a white (and cisgender and heterosexual) supremacist framework. It is an understandable predicament to be in – after all, many library degree programs are not as strong as they could be in advocating for DEI and decolonization. So let’s examine the question of diversity labeling and see if we can’t get to a better understanding of why it’s problematic…

Read the rest of this essay at Lee & Low Books Open Book Blog.

Napa’s Black community fought for freedom from the start

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter is new, but the underlying principle is not. Do not wait for the system to change itself, those early Black Napans said. Make the system change.

Resistance goes hand in hand with Blackness, just as condemning those who resist often goes hand in hand with anti-Blackness. Since the first enslaved Africans were brought to American shores, Black people have pushed back against systematic oppression. The enslaved rebelled against slaveholders and ran away from plantations. The free fought for the right to vote and the right to live free and in any neighborhood they wanted…

Read the rest of this op-ed in the Napa Valley Register.

Learn more about the history of Napa’s marginalized communities in my two books: Hidden History of Napa Valley and Lost Restaurants of Napa Valley and Their Recipes.

Black History in Napa County, California

In light of everything going on, I decided to offer an excerpt of my chapter on Black history in Napa County, California, from my book Hidden History of Napa Valley, out 2019. I did extensive research for this chapter and it covers 1846-1940. This chapter is not a meditation on The Struggle (TM), but a celebration of Black culture, traditions, and survival.

In April 2020, my second book, Lost Restaurants of Napa Valley and their Recipes, was published. Like Hidden History, it also looks the history of marginalized communities in Napa County, but it focuses on food history.

If you can, please buy my books through an independent book store. And if you’re not Black and in need of some anti-racist resources, there are a ton available on twitter.

Continue reading “Black History in Napa County, California”

History Day Trips: Monterey, California


Monterey, California, is one of my favorite coastal cities in the state. With bright blue waters and rich history, it’s a lovely little city. The Esselen and Rumsien Ohlone have lived on this land for thousands of years. The Spanish arrived in 1770, the Chinese fishing families in the 1850s, and the canneries in 1902.

What follows are some photos and some historical information about several sites in Monterey. Why? Because I’m a history nerd, that’s why.

Continue reading “History Day Trips: Monterey, California”