Summer Reading: Update Update

Yeah, yeah I know it’s November. I flopped at doing all my summer reading.  I’ve been busy, yo (in my Jesse Pinkman voice). I decided to revisit the books on my summer list, as the holiday season is upon us.  I think books make great gifts, don’t you? So, here are the three books I was able to chug though this summer/fall. I would suggest keeping these books in mind for the readers in your life:

  Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America
By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

  In Perry’s book, she examines the stereotypes used to degrade/shame black women. She writes about the “crooked room” a space where the complexities of black womanhood is distorted by racist, sexist, etc., images.  Black women aren’t allowed their full humanity, thus constantly find themselves navigating  oppressive situations.   “When they confront race and gender stereotypes, black women are standing in a crooked room, and they have to figure out which way is up. Bombarded with warped images of their humanity, some black women tilt and bend themselves to fit the distortion…to understand why black women’s public actions and political strategies sometimes seem titled in ways that accommodate the degrading stereotypes about them, it is important to appreciate the structural constraints that influence their behavior (Perry, 2011, pg. 29).” 

Perry writes about everything from black women survivors of Hurricane Katrina (a voice that tends to be underrepresented when looking at our country’s blatant negligence of black life, before/after the storm), The Duke Lacrosse Case (personally, I still think they did something to those young women), and ends with a look at Michelle Obama.  While I will always have respect for the symbolism of Mrs. Obama, I’m not as a huge of a fan I used to be.  However, Perry does a great job of detailing the obstacles Mrs. Obama faces as the The First (Black) Lady.  “Issues of hypersexuality  lurk in the media obsession with Michelle’s body; the specter of the angry black woman shadows discussions about her marriage; and national yearnings to depict black women as Mammy are embedded in public discourses about her role as mother (Perry, 2011, pg. 277).” 

All Decent Animals: A Novel
By Oonya Kempado

It took me a minute to get through this book. The book is a lyrical read from beginning to end. The author sticks to the dialect/cultural sayings of the people she is writing about. It can be a difficult read, but that’s okay. Folks need to be pushed out of the comfort  zone, sometimes :) It’s a fictional story centered on Ata and her friends.  Ata is a young woman living on the island of Trinidad. She works in carnival design, but longs to do something else with her life. She meets European Pierre, at a party, and they soon begin dating. The story chronicles the ups and down of their relationship in the midst of celebration of Carnival and their friend Fraser, who is dying of AIDS. “Fraser’s new lightness of weight gives him spring and hope. Maybe he could live with this, the dialysis part. The expensive cocktail of drugs for HIV is another thing, but with more research, things could get better (Kempadoo, 2013, pg. 138).” There are a couple of surprises in the book, no spoilers :) Be prepared for the rich and complex tale Ms. Kempadoo has woven.

Ghana Must Go
By Taiye Selasi

I cried several times while reading this book. It’s hard not to think  Selasi’s story  comes from some personal experiences. If not, she has an amazing gift for writing. “Ghana Must Go” is about a family dealing with the unexpected death of their father.  Kweku Sai is a renewed surgeon who abandoned his family years ago. Sai leaves his family, after being wrongfully dismissed from his job,and feeling like a failure. Some of his insecurities, stems from his poverty-stricken childhood in Ghana. The family tries to forget about him, but he is always in the back of their minds.  So, his death comes as a shock and leaves questions unanswered.  The family consists of Fola (mother), Olu (eldest son), Kehinde and Taiwo (the twins), and Sadie (the youngest child). The family returns to Africa, for their father’s funeral. It’s there they must deal with the heartache, lies and disappointment they have all suffered. “As it finally hits him, “He died,” Kehinde answers and starts, at the laugh. He can’t quite imagine what his sister finds funny, but she appears to be laughing, outright, her back turned. “Taiwo,” he whispers, thinking maybe she’s crying, but she turns to him dry-eyed. “He’s gone.” She shakes her head. She doesn’t stop laughing (Selasi, 2913, pg. 210).”

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