Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Love Letter to African American Writers.....

My book club!
This morning I got up and cooked my breakfast and made my coffee and sat in my favorite reading spot to read Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghost. This book is soooo captivating, and after I read for awhile, I needed to google Rivers Solomon and this awesome book.

Though her website, I found out that Rivers Solomon is an African American who is from the United States but currently resides in Cambridge, UK. This book is a "science fiction meditation on intergenerational trauma, race, and identity, where a woman traces the connection between the mysterious death of her ship’s sovereign and the disappearance of her mother a quarter-century earlier.”

Y’all this book is sho’ nuff captivating....

The setting of this book is on a ship and the people are divided by class with the darker people being at the bottom of the ship and treated quite badly, even beaten. The ship is taking people from a destroyed earth to a ‘promised land.’ Reading this book, I was reminded of the stories about slavery and periods after slavery where Black women were raped and impregnated by White men and suffered other atrocities. This is a slavery story, but with a science fiction spin... CLEVER!

I love how Rivers is retelling the story of slavery through the genre of science fiction... CLEVER! These stories matter, and must be told over and over again even through the genre of science fiction.

I appreciate you and this story Rivers Solomon! (What a great name: Rivers Solomon!)

I could go on and on about Jesmyn Ward and how she honors the stories of our Mississippi Brothers and Sisters in this book and in all of her books. Jesmyn honors stories that need to be told and told over and over again. Folks need to know about Parchman Farm which was a state penitentiary in Mississippi where many Black folks were killed, even children. This books caused me think about manhood, and drug abuse, and children, and love, and OUR stories.... They matter and must be told.

Jesmyn, I know that you make your people really proud!

Image result for image for electric arches

Electric Arches by Eve Ewing was "Well Read Black Girl" book selection for the month of September. I downloaded it and decided to start reading it on a flight to Boston. Well, it’s written in verse, and therefore, I read it two times on that plane ride. It is so Black and Beautiful until as soon as my plane landed, I rented a car, looked for a bookstore on google, and drove straight over there to get this book in book form. Yes, I needed this book in my hands and in my house.

There are pieces called “When I Talk About When I Talk about Black Jesus,” and “On Prince,” and “Ode to Luster’s Pink Oil.” Y’all, this girl honors and loves us with this writing, and I appreciate every single word of Blackness.

Eve Ewing, my sister, I appreciate you!

Image result for image for when i was the greatest by jason reynolds

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds honors and I mean really honors the stories of inner city folks. PERIOD. Their stories MATTER......

Jason does a great job of developing just about all the characters. However the four main characters are school age children: Needles who has Tourette syndrome, Noodle the brother of Needles who is angry, Ali the best friend to Noodle, and Ali’s little sister Jazz who I believe is between seven and ten. I fell in love with these kids. Children like the children in this book are in schools all across this country, and I wonder if they are being honored and respected in school or being treated as troubled kids and rendered invisible..... I want to sit down in a room with some educators and administrators and do case studies on students like: Needle, Noodles, Ali and Jazz. (Say their names; their names matter.)

As much as I love those kids, there is a man in the story with no legs who teaches the kids how to box, and y’all I have mad love for him. Now, most of us have been in the inner cities and have seen the men on the streets with no legs? I have seen them tons of times, but I think I was looking at them but not looking at them. After the way that Jason writes about this dude with such dignity, love, and respect, I will never, ever walk pass another man or woman with no legs, in a wheelchair, on the streets or anywhere for that matter, and not look him/her in the eyes and fully acknowledging him.

Jason, nothing but LOVE for you brother!

Now, I am not new to African American writers, I have been in book clubs sense I finished graduate school, that was a LONG time ago, where we exclusively read books by African Americans. So, my love and appreciate go WAY back....

However, Thanksgiving, is the perfect day to show a little gratitude for African American writers who have been holding it down for a long time: Jacqueline Woodson, J. California Cooper, bell hooks, Octavia Butler, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Eric Jerome Dickey, Terry McMillan, Tina McElroy Ansa, Randall Robinson, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Ernest Gaines and soooo many more who have been courageously telling our stories... THEY MATTER!

Thankful, Thankful, Thankful........

What are y’all Thankful for today?

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