Tag Archives: reading

Black Women Writers at Work: Review of an older but very persistently worthwhile book

I am so glad I happened to see this book Black Women Writers at WorkBlack Women Writers at Work by Claudia Tate
at the public library.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was moved with both recognition, and with fear, at Audre Lorde’s comment that “it’s scary because we’ve been through that before. It was called the fifties.” Then I was moved with that stirring to act, upon reading in print what I have known and been told in different words since Dunbar (High School): “My responsibility is to speak the truth… with as much precision and beauty as possible. … We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.”
And we must not remain silent while the blood of our sisters/brothers/neighbors/communities/fellow human beings is shed.

Sherley Anne Williams reiterates this responsibility of a writer to write as well as one can and to “say as much of the truth as I can see at any given time.”

Although this book is dated, and does not include my favorite author (Octavia Butler), I am so glad that I read this book in spite of my initial misgivings. From Bambara’s hope that “We care too much … to negotiate a bogus peace,” to DeVeaux’s “responsibility to see,” I find my own compulsion to write validated by the responsibility of a writer to render individual expression into a universal expression, and to give voice to the voiceless/unseen/erased. To show the unspoken and to “empathize with the general human condition.”

Society needs all perspectives because without those perspectives, we are missing vast parts of what our society actually looks like, which leads to deep problems. Writing, as was pointed out, must transcend individual experience, but it also comes from and is filtered through individual experience, so we desperately, as leaders from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to Octavia Butler have pointed out, need every point of view.

Last note (not in my GR review): I think that this book has helped me to see that my intended audience has two possibly conflicting sections –
I. those who have endured traumas in early childhood or also in adulthood, particularly due to structural racism, and
II: those who can change that situation.

View all my reviews

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


April, 12019 HE

Review of a book worth buying: Separate and Unequal

Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American LiberalismSeparate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism by Steven M. Gillon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How sad that the contents and conclusions of this report are still relevant, and still ignored, today, 50 years after it was released in response to the riots in Newark and Detroit of the “long hot” summer of 1967. I found this book after seeing Dr. King’s response to the question, during the Memphis garbage workers’ strike, of what it would take to prevent or call off his Poor People’s March on Washington: the answer was to implement the recommendations in this report.

The report was commissioned to find out what caused the rioting, not how to prevent further riots. The clearest distinctions between those who actively participated in the rioting and their neighbors who did not, at least at the start of each riot, was the trigger of having witnessed or experienced police brutality. But what primed that trigger for action was the underlying anger, poverty, constant discrimination, and despair to which the Black community in particular was subjected over a very long period of time.

The report called for various measures to be taken which would have improved the lives not only of members of the Black community, but also everyone else in the nation. Measures like the elimination of sub-standard housing in inner-cities, building new schools, health centers, and community facilities, and introducing a guaranteed minimum income would help all citizens, not only those bereft of resources and hope when they were freed with only the clothing on their backs, unable to melt into White American society. From the disrespect by police, to the lack of garbage collection in inner-city neighborhoods, Black Americans were fed up with White America’s deliberate disregard for “the realities of life for many poor blacks” in the United States. This anger, combined with the criminalization of poverty (which was just beginning to kick off the era of Mass Incarceration), the lack of Black faces in [the media, police, highly paid professions and other areas of potential] power, led to a sense of hopelessness and fear that non-violent resistance would never break down a system which was inherently designed to break down the Black community. Ideas like the War on Drugs, brought back by Reagan after the Carter years, and Law and Order, parroted by both right and left, muddied the discourse around solving the problems that led to the riots, instead creating a cloud of convenient reasons to blame inner-city Black communities for their problems while ignoring the structural issues that had created and perpetuated the problems since the slavery era.

The conclusion drawn by the report, above all, was that the entire nation needed education and “a richer portrait of life in urban areas” and to hire many many more Black police officers.

I think that many of the issues of perspective mentioned in the book by the author in his analysis of the report and its time are now beginning to be looked at again, as the discussion around White Privilege becomes louder and more mainstream. That discussion is a necessary but insufficient part of the solution to our current problems, which go back to pre-existing problems pointed out by the report. Please read this book on the Commission report (and also see Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin), and then, write your reps!

Pages I found especially relevant included:

P. 6: 1966 result of creation of ghettos by the 1930s-50s urban renewal aka Negro Removal all across the USA
** P. 12: What a contrast: only 1/100 white people thought that blacks were poorly treated in the USA…
***Ribicoff P. 37: recos…
P. 100: “in the ghetto” last garbage collection (if at all), police disrespectful, school & housing dilapidated
P. 228 (and the answer to that boot-straps baloney:) discrimination and segregation prevented many blacks from following the same patterns which had been followed by immigrant groups, and limited blacks to all but the lowest … jobs

Let’s #EndPoverty & #EndMoneyBail by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4:
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting for ALL!!!!, Walk !


March, 12019 HE

View all my reviews

Humanity’s Last Gasp? Let’s make it a good one for ALL of us: Local Currencies can help!

If Stephen Hawking is right, and this is Humanity’s last century, then let us “make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance. ”

Let us feed, clothe, care for and help release the creative potential of every human being on this earth until such time as we are no more. When others look back on this time, they can say of us, either that we died foolishly, mired in our own inhumanity, or that we died well, making the best life that could be had for each and every one of our fellow human beings.

We have the means easily at hand to allow a Basic Income as called for by Dr. King, Participatory Budgeting, Universal Health Care and Local Currencies, starting with multiple Time Banks and scrip currencies at every level.

Every person should have the help needed to write his or her own story, unlike in Orwell’s 1984 where writing was banned, and the Star Wars films, where writing is neglected, to the delight of a dictator who has that many fewer journalists/poets/novelists to round up and shoot or make disappear.

All we lack is the will.

In Service to Humanity,

Read, Write, Dream, Walk !

October 24th, 12017 HE

(caption: Image from Walter Swan and his ‘One Book Bookstore’ in Bisbee, AZ -fr. Wikimedia Commons)