in the shadow of liberty

I read In the Shadow of Liberty in just under two hours, over the course of two nights of elliptical sessions. It’s a quick read. I made a mistake making it my gym book, because holding a hardcover with one hand two nights in a row is a great recipe for finger pain and hand cramps.

This is good, but I don’t see it as quite as revolutionary and amazing as so many others seem to. That may be a result of the fact that, as a black person and a lifetime avid reader, even “untold” histories of black people are less astonishing (and less likely to have been unencountered) to me than they would to a white reader of any age. Davis makes a point at the beginning of the book of noting that he strove use the word “enslaved” over “slaves” in order to draw attention to the fact that these were people, not items, and to drive home how horrifying the institution of slavery was, which is all well and good, except that he’s not all that consistent with it. Further, he uses “servants” indiscriminately, and while more than once he points out that white people called slaves their servants and that is incredibly problematic, but he also does so himself, so I don’t think it’s really going to drive the point home. We all know from the Rue problem and others that white readers need racialized things yelled at them in print a million times before they actually see them.

I’m trying to figure out who this book is for. Continue reading

reading audit: first quarter 2017

This one, because it’s about STEM and it stars a black girl and nothing is ever said about it at all.

The year is a quarter over, and I’ve not really lived up to my #resist reading, but I have certainly read a lot, and in not a bad spread. Thanks to Book Riot, stats are coming as I read books, so I don’t have to do a bunch of math at one time.

A really impressive story that gets in the head of an “accidental racist” and an accurate picture of being the outsider at a private school.

I have read a total of 49 books thus far in 2017–12 adult, 16 YA, 10 middle grade, and 11 picturebooks. Thirty-five are by female-identifying authors/illustrators, which is a great ratio, because who really cares about men anyway. I’m trying to keep count of authors/illustrators who are queer and authors/illustrators who are PoC, in addition to protagonists, but I’m sure I’m lower than accurate on my count for creators because I can only presume so much. So while my creator numbers are basically irrelevant, 28 books have PoC main characters, and six have queer main characters, so obviously I have a ton of work to do on the latter. Continue reading

#blackgirlsquibs

I was really excited about a lot of books this spring. You may recall that I wrote a whole post about it. There was a lot of #blackgirlmagic in the works, and nothing could be better or more necessary than that. The biggest readers in the country are college-educated black women, while in the UK (and I gather in the US), young black girls are the biggest demographic of readers under 18. We deserve to be recognized for that and thanked by the publishing industry, but of course we’re not.

So I was really excited to find a bunch of upcoming books that not only starred black girls, but they were smart, middle and upper class, and front and center on the covers, too. I mean, look:

Little White Lies by Brianna Baker and F. Bowman Hastie III Flawed by Cecelia Ahern Into White by Randi Pink

Two of those, Flawed and Into White, are from the same publisher, Feiwel & Friends, and I give them extra points for not bowing to the whole “we already have a black book this year; thanks” thing that so many do, though I imagine part of it has to do with the fact that Cecelia Ahern is a white author with two solid adult books on her resume to recommend her. The other, Little White Lies, is from Soho Teen.

The problem is that at a time in American history (Flawed is Irish, but it’s being published here, so) when we desperately need #blackgirlmagic (and strong black men) in our books, in a life-or-death way, what we don’t need is these books. Continue reading