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DeLisle, Mississippi "is not a murder capital." In the national imaginary, places like DeLisle are the rural repositories of all that is right: family, safety, "children [who] still walk or ride on the backs of pickup trucks from house-to-house to trick-or-treat." Why, then, did Ward have to bury her brother, Joshua Dedeaux, along with four other young black men between 2000 and 2004. In the national imaginary, the fact that each of these young men died "violently, in seemingly unrelated deaths," is where the story ends. That's bullshit. Ward left me undone by telling the stories of Joshua. Ronald. C.J. Demond. Roger, as the story of young men richly woven into a geography, deeply embedded in relationships, and who hurt and grieved and coped the best way they knew how.
Parable of the Sower scared the hell out of me. Octavia Butler drops us into a near future in which corrupt idiots rule the United States, infrastructure is crumbling, cities are crawling with dispossessed people who devour drugs to dull their pain, and fires rage through much of California. We experience this world through the eyes of Lauren Olamina, a sixteen year old who literally experiences the pain of others. Though usually unable inflict pain, a decided disadvantage in this violent world, Olamina is determined to survive. She’s even developed a religion, Earthseed, whose key belief, “God is change,” provides her with the strength to adapt to any situation. Much of the book follows Olamina as she attempts to convert followers and develop a new community. This work of dystopian fiction really stands out because of the emotional depth of these characters and the care Butler puts into fleshing out Earthseed. This is the kind of book that works your heart and and yet leaves you with so much to chew and reflect on.
Michael Arceneaux is living his best life. He’s black, he’s gay, and he’s from Houston – birthplace of his idol, Beyoncé. But even more importantly, Michael, who grew up attending mass and narrowly avoided becoming a priest, knows that he’s worthy of love and belonging, homophobic interpretations of the Bible be damned! And it’s in that spirit that Michael has titled his debut collection of essays, “I Can’t Date Jesus,” – part memoir about unlearning shame, and part pop culture treatise on early 2000s R&B music. Michael has such a special voice. He’s tender, vulnerable and unpacks his experiences with love and sex with a refreshing blend of humor and humility. This book was such a pleasure to read – it kept me laughing from start to finish!
"At the end of the day, the question fabulousness asks all of us is: when can we have a world where it will be safe to just be me..."
This is a book about the transformative power of style. It's a book about how marginalized people come to reject the norms that favor the powerful and through stylizing one's body bring us one step closer to a world in which we can all just be." A dazzling work of cultural studies that helps us do the work of living."
I was born in 1992 so I've only ever known a wildly dysfunctional U.S. political culture. I read this book because I needed to know why. Taking us from Watergate to Trump, Kruse and Zelizer, historians at Princeton Univesit, content that we're still sill riding a wave of counterrevolutionary backlash against the liberation movements of the 1960s. Depressing. Maddening. This historical synthesis provides a necessary dose of what C. Wright Mills calls "pessimism of the intellect" but Kruse and Zelizer have crafted a narrative that also leaves space for "optimism of the will."
Beautiful cover, right? That's "The Tradition." The "version," the speaker of "Ganymede" confesses, "we'd all "prefer." I found these poems to be so effective because Brown sits with this desire to make beautiful what's ugly, what is: "I mean, don't you want God// to want you?" By naming, recursively, all those who have/will leave his body in "disrepair," Brown copes with what is as honestly as his spirit will allow. In "Good White People," Brown adopts a lighter persona as he makes peace with his "grandmother with her good//Hair and her good white people." "Evil. Dead black woman//I still love." Where does that leave Brown? "All is stained. She was ugly. I'm gly. You're ugly too." For Brown, this is what is, and well, that sucks. For now.