The Hate U Give

I shouldn’t have come to this party.

This one is probably going to be relevant for a long time coming, and that’s why I’m unsure how to go about this. As one of the blurbs on the back of the book says, everyone should read it, maybe especially if it makes you uncomfortable, but how do I put into words why you should read it?

Maybe because it gives a face to Ferguson, to Black Lives Matter, to Flint and all the other cases in which it’s easy to think of an entity, instead of a collection of individuals. Starr is one of the few black people on a very fancy school, which makes her feel like she’s living two versions of herself. When she witnesses a shooting, it’s harder to keep those two apart.

But it’s not just Starr’s story. It’s her family, her community and the endless attempts of being heard and seen as people, instead of thugs, low-lives, useless. Angie Thomas balances that impressively, and even though there are rough patches to get through, you’ll be so attached to the people you’re reading about, that you just take it.

And again, definitely a book I would have rather seen in my YA Literature class than another white boy story.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas, HarperCollins 2017

We Were Eight Years in Power

In 1895, two decades after his state moved from the egalitarian innovations of Reconstruction to an oppressive ‘Redemption”, South Carolina congressman Thomas Miller appealed to the state’s constitutional convention: we were eight years in power.

We Were Eight Years in Power isn’t a beach read. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ previous one had glimpses of light between all the rubble, but no such thing this time around. This time Coates has his bludgeon ready, and weighed it down with centuries of pain, abuse and inequality.
Because that’s what this book is, a collection of essays and articles in which is shown – again and again – how black people were mistreated by American authorities ever since they set foot on American soil. No, Obama didn’t create a post-racism society; there’s too many centuries of white supremacy and the ignoring of white guilt before his time. And well, just look at who’s in the White House right now.

It’s the kind of history lesson you probably don’t get in school, but if you want to join in on the conversation, you should be reading along.

We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Penguin Random House 2017

The Tortilla Curtain

Afterward, he tried to reduce it to abstract terms, an accident in a world of accidents, the collision of opposing forces – the bumper of his car and the frail scrambling hunched-over form of a dark little man with a wild look in his eye – but he wasn’t very successful.

And the prize for Most Depressing Book read in January goes to.

The tortilla curtain is the border between Mexico and the USA. The Tortilla Curtain is about the people on that thin line that just want to have a comfortable life, but are prevented from having it by paranoia, racism, and society. The one side is simply much more privileged than the other, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they could have an easier life (add a note of sarcasm here).

I had to read this one for school, because we’re doing a course called Aspects of the USA and well, racism definitely is one.

The book’s well written, luring into supporting one side until everybody just shows how ugly their thoughts and prejudices are. The one side is just allowed more, under the guise of honesty and worry. It’s over twenty years old, but the story can definitely be retold today.

The Tortilla Curtain, T.C. Boyle, Bloomsbury 1995

The Help

Mae Mobley was born on a early Sunday morning in August, 1960.

There was a book before the film. And yes, this is another one for college. Also another one I prefer over The Catcher in the Rye.

It’s the segregation years of the sixties in the USA. White women are housewives, black women are housemaids. They are expected to do everything, but are rewarded by little to no appreciation and always have being fired hanging over them. The majority of them are little more than paid slaves, which is something that Skeeter also discovers when she comes up with the idea to write the stories of housemaids. It doesn’t land well with a lot of people.

In the book there’s not just Aibileen’s point of view, but also Minny’s, and Skeeter’s. With the first two the reader gets two different minds and views on the same subjects, while Skeeter is the alien out.

The Help is such an easy read that when the uglier subjects pop up and disasters happen, it almost shocks you out of the pale pastels and superficial happiness everyone seems to abide by.

I expect I have to read it for the vocabulary used, I read it to discover if it was less coddling than the film. It was.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett, Penguin Group 2009

13th

100 min.

13th-netflixAren’t there documentaries with happy/happier subjects? Of course there are, but isn’t a documentary supposed to educate? About things that may not be a day-to-day subject for a lot of people? I think 13th is smack right on that with it being about the USA prison system and how black people suffer from it.

This isn’t an emotional appeal, this is layers and layers of facts and numbers and statistics showing how authorities use everything in their power to control the minority population. How there’s no equality in punishment for the same crime, how there’s no fairness and that believing in the system is more than naive, it might be lethal.

It’s the strength of the people featured that prevent you from completely circling down the drain of ‘Is this really society’. People that keep speaking up, that keep fighting, the Davids to the  many-headed Goliath.

Ignorance is not an argument. Know what’s wrong.

13th, Netflix 2016

Between The World And Me

Son, last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.

Required reading, indeed.

Coates gives the reader a view of his world, one he shares with a lot of black Americans. It’s a letter to his son, it’s a reality check for everyone outside this world.

A world in which your body isn’t your own. In which there is no safety from society, authority, their own surroundings. In which police violence isn’t just two years old and a news item, but a reality you grow up in.

It’s plenty of ugly truths, but Coates’ love for his son, his family and his people (the people the rest of society only wants to use, not accept) prevents this letter turning into a wall of tears.

We have to know this angle, because ignorance supports a status quo that doesn’t include every human being.

Between The World And Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau 2015

The Sapphires

103 min.

My support of The Sapphires was present before even having watched the movie.There was a stupid situation regarding the movie poster. Originally, it has the four girls front and center, it’s their story, they are the movie title. But when the movie was shipped off into the rest of the world (it’s Australian), a secondary character was moved to the main spot. A white man, firmly in front of the four Aboriginal women it was about. How blatant, how stupid. I was ready to fight wars for The Sapphires.

the_sapphires_correct_posterGood thing the movie gave me plenty of ammunition. Based on real people, this story doesn’t has to dramatise any events to land their message. It’s history lesson, family drama and romcom all in one go, and equally balanced out.

The Sapphires are three Aboriginal women in the seventies, and they want to sing. There’s one white man who believes in talent over racial profiling, and with another cousin attached, they go off to Vietnam, to support troops. As Australian law still viewed the indigenous people as ‘flora and fauna’ back then, it’s easy to recognise it didn’t happen without bumps in the road.

It’s a story worth time in history classes around the world, while being funny, sweet and uplifting.

The Sapphires, The Weinstein Company 2012