Whether he is teaching classes full of writing students or reflecting on specific cultural moments in his own essays, Jabari Asim forces his audiences to think. Take, for example, his 2009 book What Obama Means … for Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future. By examining the influence of black orators and activists who preceded Barack Obama, Asim is able to explain how Obama became both a president and a cultural icon. His new book, We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival, comes at a much darker time in American history, as we grapple with an openly racist president, and police officers and self-appointed vigilantes with their fingers constantly on the triggers of their guns. Asim chronicles centuries of black survival and persistence and challenges “self-styled liberals” to speak out forcefully against the oppression they see and are complicit in. “It’s time to replace the timid discourse of pragmatic centrism with the aggressive language our situation requires,” he writes. As anger over the devolution of America continues to simmer, Asim’s discussion of the book with The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery comes at exactly the right time. Read more>>>Jabari Asim reads at 7 p.m. at Solid State Books, 600 H St. NE. Free. (202) 897-4201. solidstatebooks.com. (Caroline Jones)

OH AND ALSO

Writer Lacy M. Johnson speaks at Politics and Prose at Union Market about her book of essays, The Reckonings: Essays, in which she draws on art, philosophy, mythology, film, and her life experience to explore notions of truth and fairness. 7 p.m. at 1270 5th St. NE. Free.

Legendary comedian and actress Lily Tomlin performs at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. 8 p.m. at 2700 F St. NW. $39–$129.

Singer-songwriters Anna Burch, Fred Thomas, and Common Holly perform at Songbyrd Music House. 8 p.m. at 2477 18th St. NW. $12–$14.

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