A movement, a rallying cry, a plea and an inalienable truth for America to aspire to… to embody, right now because, black lives matter.
When the Black Lives Matter movement began I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. As a bleeding heart liberal, I was “for it” but I didn’t really know what that meant nor how to actually be an ally and join in the movement with integrity. So in typical Hannah fashion (something I learned from my father) I decided to educate myself and allow the words and world views of others to shape and penetrate my own understandings and assumptions. I did this through reading various articles shared and promoted by trusted friends and resources across social media. I began following new and black run news outlets, I searched and found list after list of recommended reading for those wanting to educate themselves on the history, experience and current framework for being a person of color in America.
The Black Lives Matter movement produced not only protests, sit-ins and local and federal legislative changes, but a new renaissance of art work from Black America. From memoir to poetry, novel to rap, sculpture to film, black artists are producing and finally being recognized for works of art that benefit all of America and the globe. These are not monolithic pieces, for no group is homogeneous and it is their distinctive differences that make them great.
The reality of the lives of black Americans as they attempt to navigate a society, system and structure set up for whiteness differs for each individual, so their art differs (though of course there are common themes) and I have relished the opportunity to dive into the unique voices, perspectives and art forms wrestling to “do something” to change the world we live in which continues to devalue the black body.
In the past months I have read three such works:
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coastes (for the third time)
A fantasy novel, a personal memoir and a letter written to a young black son. These three authors give voice to a reality and open a window for this middle-class white woman to see, to feel, to internalize, to empathize and to (I pray) transform so that I, this country and this world can do better for the black and brown bodies of our family, today and in the years and generations to come. I cannot imagine the struggle, the fear and the pain that these individuals live with each and every day, but in reading their words, in “escaping” into their worlds and by hearing their voices speak their truth, I at least have the chance to value them, right here…right now.
I have so much work to do on myself, but I value these voices, so I buy their books, read their stories, and let their truths penetrate and affect me (it’s the third time I’ve listen to Coastes’ Between the World and Me and every time I am broken open anew). I am able to hear their wisdom, their struggles and try to do better each day in my interactions, in how I speak to my children, to those I serve and those who confide in me. I can do better. We can all do better and for me it is time to set my own uncomfortableness aside and BELIEVE my siblings when they tell me their truths and be willing to bend, to break and to be reborn.
The truth is often a tough pill to swallow but I have never regretted it.
Goodreads Review for Children of Blood and Bone
Goodreads Review for I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Goodreads Review for Between the World and Me
*I have ready many many books in this line of exposure over the course of the last two years….if you would like additional recommendations do not hesitate to contact me directly.