Tag Archive: african-american



Yellow WifeYellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a challenging, necessary read. But with Robin Miles narrating, the story became something I couldn’t stop ‘reading.’ It is a book written colloquially, so I think without narration, it might have seemed bad writing. But as you hear how the language is spoken, it feels quite natural.

I have never heard the term “Yellow Wife.” But it makes sense. How horrid the things humans have done to humans. I don’t understand that at all. To force people to work beyond their capacity or force women to marry those they didn’t love or chose to be with. It is all baffling.

At any rate, I am glad there are authors to take us into the past to see the kinds of things that have happened.

Since it was based on someone who had existed and that person’s history, the fiction around it became something believable. Just bring a box of Kleenex and gird up your loins for a good story that includes the cruelties of humans against humans.

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The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

by Nikole Hannah-Jones (Narrator)

I can’t remember who recommended this book to me first. It might have been my church. Or one of my best friends. In either case, thank you! You see, I have always hated history classes. You had to remember men’s names dates and the wars they started or ended with men’s bigger guns. I did have a fantastic History teacher in college. He included music and arts in his lectures. Even still the history was just that HIStory. And only with this book did I see that it was white men’s HIStory.

 

This audiobook from Libby was all-inclusive. I think I need to add the book blurb.

 

  Duration: 18 hours and 57 minutes <– Just in case you have limited time.

 

“A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, ‘The 1619 PROJECT: A NEW ORIGIN STORY’ offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

 

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

 

‘THE 1619 PROJECT: A NEW ORIGIN STORY’ builds on one of the most consequential journalistic events of recent years: The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project,” which reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on the original 1619 Project, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with 36 poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself. This legacy can be seen in the way we tell stories, the way we teach our children, and the way we remember. Together, the elements of the book reveal a new origin story for the United States, one that helps explain not only the persistence of anti-Black racism and inequality in American life today but also the roots of what makes the country unique.

 

The book also features a significant elaboration of the original project’s Pulitzer Prize-winning lead essay, by Nikole Hannah-Jones, on how the struggles of Black Americans have expanded democracy for all Americans, as well as two original pieces from Hannah-Jones, one of which makes a profound case for reparative solutions to this legacy of injustice.

 

This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction – and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.”

 

There are so many contributors and voices throughout. It is poetry and prose of beauty included in the ugliest of actions against people.

 

I found I couldn’t read it as a bedtime book. I would either aim to keep reading or have nightmares/ So I used this as the background as I worked on my Diamond Painting. My hands were busy so my mind could engage.

 

I highly recommend this book. I would love it to be used in schools as inclusive his/herstory.


Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished listening to this a few nights ago. I still feel warm and fuzzy from the experience. No, it isn’t all a cozy read. But the author went into the characters’ psychology in a way that women. mothers could feel. Most of us haven’t had to experience this kind of life. But it doesn’t take a lot to feel how it might affect us. And how it could mess up the children.

Bahni Turpin (Narrator) was marvelous. I could listen to her voice all day, especially when she would sing lullabies. She expressed emotions fully. And get ready to be angry, and make sure to bring the Kleenex.

This is a beautiful read. I was able to hear the Audible version. But I could have read the Kindle version as I had it for quite a while.

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The Sweetness of WaterThe Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Though this was a well-written story and the narrator, William DeMeritt, did a fantastic job. It is too tough to handle at bedtime. The very things that make this a great book for everyone to read, are what made it hard to swallow when it was time to gentle into sleep. I suggest reading this earlier in the day. The history plays true. The awakening, though fiction, portrays real-life that still plays out in some peoples’ lives. I highly recommend reading this book

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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great MigrationThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book and the narrator, Robin Miles, were excellent. It is a biography of a few people told like a novel and captivating from the beginning. Ms. Miles was able to act out all the characters so one could identify who was who.

I have two hours left in the book, but I took a break to write this. I spent today with Pandora playing ‘classical study music’ quietly in the background so I could use the whole day to listen to this book without distractions. I wouldn’t have been able to handle it if it were boring. ADD would have sent me away from the book and into other ventures. That gives you a clue of how good this book is.

The other reason I spent the day reading (listening) to this book is that it is a Libby library copy that is due soon, and I have a lineup of books to read that I have already checked out. You know how that is. With some books, I would let it go. Return the book unfinished. But I want to know how it ends. Besides, I have never heard so many facts and insights before, and I feel I am somewhat ‘woke.’ This is a history not told in history classes when I was a student. I hope this book is used in the classroom now.

I highly recommend this and Isabel Wilkerson’s other book, Caste.

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The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar CountyThe Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an adorable tale! The little girl, Baby, as Big Mama calls her, sees it as her mission to catch every chicken. But one eludes her.

Shelley Jackson makes the story come alive with illustrations that seem real yet whimsical with a bit of collage throughout the book.

My children and I would have loved this when they were 5-8ish years old. It might have helped as educational moments as we had chickens back then. Learning that you must chase down a chicken every now and thing to medicate or isolate certain ones. But chasing, as fun as it could be, frighten the chickens and can be bad for them. My kids never found that a goal. Instead, they learned to gather eggs and mostly leave the chickens to live their own lives. They saw hens clutch and babies hatch and follow mothers around.

This fits in the Black Lives Matter category as the child, and her mom are black. It is incidental. This could have been any race living in rural areas. I like that. I can’t wait until things like this book become commonplace. Books and the arts should reflect our lives. All kinds of people live on this earth. Why not enjoy the variety?

Now that I am finished reading this book, I will donate it to the local library as I think it might be a good addition.

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Caste: The Origins of Our DiscontentsCaste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The bestselling list on CBS Sunday Morning today put Caste at #3 of non-fiction books. I usually don’t end up reading things that are on those lists. But a couple of months ago during the Unitarian Universalist Zoom worship service, this book was highly praised and gently assigned as homework for the congregation. I found it on Audible and had a free credit so went for it.

Robin Miles narrates beautifully. Her voice and acting help keep the listener engaged. Even though this was one of the longest ‘reads’ I have indulged in of late. It has taken me several weeks to get through. For some books, I set the speed faster than normal and can follow a story quite well, but I loved Ms. Miles’s voice and found myself deeply involved in the caste education Isabel Wilkerson had presented so well that I left it at normal speed.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. If you feel ‘woke’ enough that you feel this will be elementary, you will find depths of information you may have not thought of. I remember as a child at church excitedly singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children, all the children of the world; Red and yellow, black or white, they are precious in His sight…” Yet hearing we couldn’t go to a certain park because the blacks were taking over. In a child’s mind, that seemed strange and I couldn’t believe that would stop us from going to the park. We lived in a very white area. There were few kids of color in school. As a kid, I didn’t think of what that meant. As a newlywed, my husband and I made friends with a mixed couple. Through them, we attended a dance and a big picnic where there were only three whites. Us. The dance was amazing until they invited me to dance. My shyness took over big-time. I can’t dance and it was obvious that our new friends were experts. The picnic was more intimate. A couple of women had beautiful cornrows. As a cosmetologist, I was fascinated with how they did that. We weren’t taught black hairstyles in my school. These gracious ladies laid down in the grass with me and showed me how to braid grass. It still amazes me that they could get the grass to stay braided. It was so short! No, I never did get good at braiding.

Anyway, I went into this book with these life experiences behind me and hearing that song worming its way through my head wondering how people have been treated so poorly by folks that claim to be Christians. I do remember learning about India’s caste system as a young adult and thought how it seemed we weren’t far from that here. But this takes all that to such depths of understanding I was wowed every night I was involved in the book.

Please if you get the chance, give this one a read.

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The Bluest EyeThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wish I would have read this any other year but 2020. In a year I am reading to escape pain, depression and just trying to breathe through the smoke, this book took me deeper and sadder and more disturbed. I am sorry anyone has to deal with the many problems the main characters in this book had to go through. Though this was a historical fiction, much of the bigotry, and abuse goes on still.

Toni Morrison did the narration of her own book and kept the story alive. Her writing is known for the poetic prose. I did appreciate that, but I found it made the story even more disturbing. I do plan to read more of her books. But not right now.

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Seed to Harvest: The Complete Patternist Series (Patternist, #1-4)Seed to Harvest: The Complete Patternist Series by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have loved other books by Octavia E. Butler, but this set of four books just didn’t do it for me. I couldn’t figure out the characters, who was who. Maybe it was because I had to listen to it on text-to-speech, though I did try to follow with my eyes. Still, I did stay with it. A lot of times if something doesn’t make sense it comes together in the end. But I didn’t find that. I found four different stories about similar things.

But don’t take my word for it. Others have loved these books so maybe it is just me and this time in my life. Heck, toothache from infection, smoky-hot summer, Covid19, and its craziness could have flavored how I took the books in. So maybe I’ll read them again later. I see that many people read these in publication order rather than chronological and get a lot more out of all of this combo. Ms. Butler writes well and keeps the reader interested, even when the story itself doesn’t go in the flow I think it should.

Try it. You might like it!

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Seeking SarahSeeking Sarah by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jerry Springer eat your heart out! Oh, the drama!

Okay, I didn’t mean to start with that. There were things about this book I liked. I love that we have a diverse character, though the cover picture doesn’t give that impression. On the other hand, the blurb grabbed me about a young woman that wants to find her mother who she previously thought had died.

What seems to be set up to be an exciting adventure learning why mom left, and possibly reconnecting, the main character, Brooke, is hooking/breaking up with a guy that shouldn’t even get a female. Even in the process of getting to know her mom, she takes every opportunity to jump to conclusions to be angry. I guess my way would have solved Brookes problems within minutes and there wouldn’t be a book but a short story.

I was lucky to get to read this book from Netgalley. I’d love to see what others think of this novel. It is different.

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