I moved back home for a few days before my summer travels –civil rights tour, birthday celebration week, and a trip to Harlem. By July, I will settle into my new place in Baltimore (speaking it into existence). A few months ago, I received a Barnes and Noble gift card from a former professor and last week decided to splurge on a few books. Most have been on my radar for a while, but since I started my thesis I only read books research-related. Now, I will indulge in the following leisure/travel reads.
- The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
Thomas’ The Hate U Give is a young-adult novel speaks to racial relations in America. I caught eye of this novel through a review published by The Atlantic. As an activist, I am excited to read Thomas’ work and to pass it on to my little sister as she navigates her own thoughts on police violence and being Black in America.
Book description: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
2. Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson
I know it may be shocking, but no I have not read this book. I was first introduced to Stevenson’s work through Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday where he basically laid out the foundation of his entire book. His story and his mission moved me enough to consider law school until I settled on history. Still, I will continue to protest and speak against the criminal justice system in the United States. Just not yet as a lawyer.
3. Go Tell It On The Mountain, James Baldwin
I started this book I believe in the eighth grade and I was not at the age to fully comprehend the greatness of Baldwin. I believe I was in that phase where I thought I was smart enough to read through the top 100 literature books (maybe one of those 100 books to read before you die)…I soon moved to Oprah’s Book Club List.
4. Playing in Darkness: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, Toni Morrison
Navigating my way through all of Morrison’s fiction/non-fiction works.
The Nobel Prize-winning author now gives us a learned, stylish, and immensely persuasive work of literary criticism that promises to change the way we read American literature even as it opens a new chapter in the American dialogue on race.
Toni Morrison’s brilliant discussions of the “Africanist” presence in the fiction of Poe, Melville, Cather, and Hemingway leads to a dramatic reappraisal of the essential characteristics of our literary tradition. She shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree–and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires.
Written with the artistic vision that has earned Toni Morrison a pre-eminent place in modern letters, Playing in the Dark will be avidly read by Morrison admirers as well as by students, critics, and scholars of American literature.
5. A Beautiful Struggle, Ta-Nehisi Coates
I found this book on the shelf beside his most famous work, Between the World and Me, published nearly eight years before. I was familiar with Coates prior to the publication of his most famous book; however, I failed to realize he wrote a previous non-fiction book.
Excited to read this piece!
An exceptional father-son story from the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.
Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence—and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack—and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free.
Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and sensitive and almost comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and all-too-ready for the challenges of the streets. The Beautiful Struggle follows their divergent paths through this turbulent period, and their father’s steadfast efforts—assisted by mothers, teachers, and a body of myths, histories, and rituals conjured from the past to meet the needs of a troubled present—to keep them whole in a world that seemed bent on their destruction.
With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father’s generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.
So I am currently reading Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward, which is an emotional read, but a must read. I just finished last week Ayana Mathis’ The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, which was a good read although I skipped around a few chapters. I was joking with someone that everything I read, watch, or write has to deal with race and so perhaps in the fall I will branch out of my comfort zone, but for now:)
Until the next post,