I didn’t give a lot of thought to BHM at the time. Most of February and early March was a time of dying relatives and neighbors, work, and midterms. It wasn’t a good time for me to care about other people.
|Flickr Credit: simpleinsomnia|
Where do I start? Beloved, by Toni Morrison. It’s true and it’s despicable and it’s amazing. It is about what it means to be women, what it means to be men, what it means to be free after slavery, and what it is about slavery that makes killing your own child seem like the best option out there. There are some things I’m never going to understand… and this book just goes to define those invisible limits.
“Lenox Avenue: Midnight” and “Harlem” and “Theme for English B” are from Langston Hughes. They are my favorite.
Though To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is written by a white author with a white main character, it still shows us a picture of racial injustice in the south. It’s terrible. Also, it’s interesting from a feminist perspective.
If you're a play kind of person, you might check out A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. I kind of want to murder the male main character, but still. Racism, economics, and dreams, pretty much.
Probably it is weird to share your school textbooks with other people. Still. Martin and Malcolm and America by James H. Cone provides a story of civil rights and black nationalism through two of the most famous civil rights leaders. And they aren’t the same, but they aren’t all that different, either. Neither should be forgotten.
On that note, I highly enjoyed Malcolm X’s speech “The Ballot or the Bullet.” I don’t agree with everything he says, but he knows what’s up.
I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett for the first time. It was really good. Again, written by a white woman, but a powerful perspective nonetheless. There are a lot of injustices in there that will stick with me for a long time yet.
(This is cheating because I read it last year but Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson is great, too. Black, queer writer, talking about what it was like to grow up in the sixties and seventies. Read it.)
And though this is not American history, but my World Music class brought the South African national anthem to my attention. It is in four different languages and it is beautiful.
Because I can, I will remind you to listen to Hamilton. It is a musical about the (admittedly white) founding fathers, but the operation is set up with POC in the lead, and the messages address racial freedom in their own way. Plus, it is amazing.
Also because I can, ZOOTOPIA. Like Hamilton and To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help and all these things, it is a discussion of race and feminism and who we are as people, except with animals. It is hilarious, it is touching, and it is a reflection of who we are today. So think about that.
Boom. Reading material for days. Take responsibility for yourself, hunt these down, enjoy them. In the meantime, I’ll be checking out a few of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words and also I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.