Tag Archive: bigotry



The Personal LibrarianThe Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first started reading, well, listening to this book, I think I would have rated this with three to four stars. Robin Miles, the narrator, presented Belle da Costa Greene as a snooty woman that I couldn’t relate to in any way.

Now, having finished, I am rating it five stars. Stick with it through the whole story. The authors will explain it so that the picture in your mind accepts the things that didn’t quite gel or maybe you didn’t like as you read/heard it.

I like herstorical fiction because I hate history classes. I like learning what could have happened to a woman in our past. From what I learned at the end of this book, much research went into what made a fascinating story of a possible interesting life.

More can be found in the blurb for this book. I highly recommend the read or listen to the book.

The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian – who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true, from ‘New York Times’ best-selling author Marie Benedict and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.

In her late 20s, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J.P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and well-known advocate for equality, Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white – her complexion is dark because she is African American.

‘THE PERSONAL LIBRARIAN’ tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths to which she must go – for the protection of her family and her legacy – to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives. ”

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Review:


The Carolina Diaries: Belle

by Darlene Winters

The Carolina Diaries: BelleThe Carolina Diaries: Belle by Darlene Winters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don’t know. This was hard to read. It is hard to review. It feels autobiographical. Though it–

I don’t do this often as I figure people will go read the blurbs themselves. But this and the reviews make me wonder if I read the same book.

“Her cousin wants to die. She has the whole roadtrip to convince her otherwise.

Darlene only knows of one way to help her cousin Belle after a life of disappointments–go with her on a cross-country road trip, head back to California where Belle was born… and where she intends to die.

But deep family resentments and drama rides with them across the country, shedding light on heavy themes like sexual abuse and depression, as well as religion and politics. Growing up in North Carolina, these cousins have a lot of stories to share: some sad, some comical, and some just down right disturbing.

If you enjoyed Little Miss Sunshine and Girl, Interrupted, you’ll want to read The Carolina Diaries with its unique blend of dark humor and even darker perspectives of life past, present and future; the real take-aways being how to cope and heal.”

I found no humor. I wish I hadn’t picked it up. It was exactly what I don’t want to read before bed. All the reality of our daily news lives during this pandemic. And though I agree with the author on a lot of stances, I couldn’t deal with it in my bedtime fiction.

My fault. I saw road trip, my first name, and didn’t read the description.

Maybe if I read it during the day I could see the humor in a suicidal cutter who had lived with so much abuse, of every kind, during a pandemic during the political turmoil of 2020. No. I don’t think so.

The reason I am not giving this a lower rating is the list of good books and ideas the author presents. Unfortunately, the way it’s presented makes me sure the ones who need the information will not see it. Still, there’s a chance I could be wrong.

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Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular CultureCarefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture by Carefree Black Girls Zeba Blay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Carefree Black Girls, Zeba Blay addresses many of the issues in our world today through her life’s story. Far from being ‘carefree,’ this is a social statement of what some females must live through. I am not necessarily privileged, being a 71-year-old white woman on social security (which isn’t enough to live on.) But granted, I am not black, nor of the current generation with social media that is out to crush anyone they can.
As with every autobiography I read, I must leave the statement of lack of judgment. I can’t in any way decide if this book is good or bad. It is Ms. Blay’s story. It is interesting and awakening and empowering and angering. I wish I could hug her through her hard times. I wish I could beat up those who hurt her. I wish there were no such thing as bigotry or hatred of those whose bodies are not perfect or whose sexual lives don’t reflect the norms.

As with other autobiographies, I did appreciate a chance to walk in someone else’s shoes. As uncomfortable as those shoes might be for her or me. It made a hard read for bedtimes. It wasn’t easy to find a calm or happy moment to stop reading on a positive note. But I suppose that had me finishing the read faster.

I hope others will take the time to read about a life that isn’t your own. This one is not only well-written but highly researched to make sure her facts are traceable.

I want to thank Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

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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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