When is an “isolated incident” an indication of an ongoing pattern?
Never one to shy away from political or social commentary, “The Fire This Time” by Jesmyn Ward digs deep into the legacy of racism in America and what it means to be black in the past, in the present and in the future. For those looking for thought-provoking commentary I highly recommend this book.
There is anger in this book, but there is also love: This is not a comforting read, especially if you’re white. Make no mistake, there is a rage and an anger in the black community today, as well there should be. “The Fire This Time” gives voice to that, and thank God for it.
This collection of work took me on an eye-opening experience. Each piece meshes with the overall theme so well and the flow is so natural that you can’t help but immerse yourself in the poetry, essays, and stories of each writer. It’s refreshing to see the diverse dynamic in which race can be talked about and how each mode of writing packs its own punch be it subtle or right in your face. Many of the pieces served as education and teaching on some of the culture and back stories I did not know of, even amongst our own culture.
Truly, this work is to be studied, to be felt, to be read without bias and with attention to the rhythm inside of each and every piece. What a way to honor Baldwin’s legacy, what a way to show gratitude to his life, and what a way to tell the world that the writings and stories of generations both past and present are still detrimental to our salvaging. Still thriving. Still necessary. Still eternal. Still being written.
All reach deeply into the reader’s heart (often with a knife) but those that made the most lasting impressions are:
Cadogan’s “Black and Blue” which is as succinct as one can get about the African-American’s inability to perform the simple act of walking without removing a warm comfortable hoodie, taking one’s hands out of one’s pockets, keeping a proscribed pace. I look forward to Cadogan’s upcoming book on walking.
“Cracking the Code” by Jesmyn Ward
Honore Fannone Jeffers’ analytical take on prior research done on Phyllis Wheatley and her husband.
Wendy Walters’ “Lonely in America” on the effects of being black in America. Makes you wonder what the mental health issues are doing to the physical well-being of African-Americans. There’s an important study waiting to be conducted.
Along the same lines is Claudia Rankine’s essay which surely speaks to the mental health of black Americans. How can one being in a constant state of high alert, mourning and desperation and not be suffering mentally, emotionally and physically???
Loved Emily Raboteau’s “Know your Rights.” The art work blew me away, especially liked the young girl who led Raboteau to one of the hidden murals.
Composite Pops by Mitchell Jackson is a call to the importance of fatherhood, no matter what surrogate.
And of course Danticat’s unique perspective as Haitian-American with a question: Could Blacks apply for refugee status?
Having read Wilkerson’s and Danticat’s books, it was interesting to read their essays and hear a different voice.
Although I consider myself a pretty well-read person, I had not heard of many of these contributors nor have I read much of their works. I am making my way through Baldwin, who must be the finest essayist on any topic in the second half of the twentieth century. Given what I have seen here, I think Ms. Ward has identified some of the finest writers in our new century.
Get it here: http://amzn.to/2zWEQgm