Growing up I read a lot of Sweet Valley and Goosebumps. not a child of colour in site. I managed to come out all right, but I certainly wouldn’t want generations to be further inundated with whiteness and token racialised persons. So for the children in your life- biological and non-biological, 25 books featuring strong black girls.
Last month marked 30 years of the killing of Maurice Bishop, leader of the NJM in Grenada. Groundation Grenada shares two reflections from two generations on the revolution now and then. Watching an documentary on the revolution I was moved by how excited and hopeful people were. I’ve found maintaing hopefulness for meaningful political change pretty difficult in my adult life time…
I’m likely not to understand the full dynamics of this story surrounding young black men buying extravagantly priced items at a high end store NY and getting profiled. But one of my favourite commentators of higher education and its complications especially for poc in the US has a wonderfully personal reflection on the how and why of spending money when working clas. She highlights how people make judgements on our appearance all the time, and those judgements can close and open doors of opportunity.
I like to start my workout like I’m now going out to get paint and mud all over my body on j’ouvert morning. Undoubtedly one the biggest songs for the year, that I still don’t know the words to.
When it’s time to increase the speed I like to remind myself of FANTASTIC FRIDAY. On actual fantastic Friday I was shoveling snow in Toronto wishing I was in the stadium. Boy am I glad those days are over.
Keeping the run in high gear. It hurts me to post this, but that “we not staying down, we getting off the ground” makes me pick up the pace every single time. I’m seeing this video for the first time… I may be in love. That little boy holding he head at 3:27! Ah love it!
A great cool down! pieces2peace reintroduced me this Kes song. I must say I wasn’t on the Kes train in the early days. Lines like, “tonight the red man feeling to party” will never get you in my good books but he does give a great live show and I’ve never heard him repeat those words.
In Lucy, Jamaica Kincaid’s protagonist is in the early days of adolescence and experiencing a lot of angst. One of the many sources of which was having a period. Those who have or currently menstruate will be familiar with the discomfort, inconvenience, the pain. One woman I worked with said she welcomed and celebrated her period. It was for her a reminder of her fertility. I’m not trying to have children, so for me that excitement isn’t there. In Lucy, the mother of the protagonist warns/ predicts…
“finding blood in [your] underpants might be something one day [you] would get down on [your] knees and pray for” (69)
… and let me tell you truer words were never written.
Chris Rock has a hilarious joke (@3:25). He says, “you’re young and you date what do you do? You go to the movies, you go get pizza, you have sex, what else? You wait for periods.” He’s very right. If you’re young, single, fertile, having straight sex, and not planning on having children any time soon I’m willing to bet you’ve had a pregnancy scare.
Owing to my hypochondriac ways I’ve had a couple pregnancy scares myself. Oftentimes not justified: I’m a stickler about safer-sex. I always use condoms and am often on the birth control pill. But let me tell you, nothing puts fright in me more than, the thought, “shouldn’t I have had my period by now…”
And then rings true the words of Jamaica Kincaid, everyday you wait for finding blood in your underpants… oh what a blessing. What activities do you engage in? This is my usual modus operandi
- calendar checking
- when was my last period? I’ve never been good about tracking my cycle. So I end up having to try to remember what was going on in my life- events and activities when I last had my period and work back from there. I actually once convinced myself I was pregnant because I’d gained some weight even though it had been 9+ months since I’d had sex. #hypochondriaisreal
- decision making
- should I buy a pregnancy test?
- Surprisingly I never have. My period has always come before I get that scared. That said, I know many a friend who has a pregnancy test hidden somewhere in her house just in case.
- when should I tell him?
- When you’re one day late? When you’re 10 days late? When you get two lines on the pregnancy test? Now I’m definitely torn on this one. I’ve never discussed my anxiety with anyone I’ve had sex with with because nothing makes me worry more than other people worrying with me. But I remember watching a sitcom where a character had a pregnancy scare and she said she was telling him because there was no reason she should be the only one stressed about something they were both responsible for. To each his or her own.
- what would I do?
- Because I’m a dilly-dallier it would definitely be too late for the morning-after-pill which leaves abortion on the table. I’m as pro-choice as they come but in these parts of the world (English-speaking Caribbean) save a few territories it is actually illegal. So that leaves finding a doctor who will (there are many) and considering his or her reputation. Talk about stress. #awkwardconversation
- and thankfully all my stories have ended with great relief.
Hopefully we’ll all have/do an appreciation for the irony when there’s a shift in our desire to have children and we then start cursing the blood lining our underpants.
What is one of the things I will miss most about Toronto?
So as I got ready to leave Toronto my mission was to read as many books as possible.
Noviolet Bulawayo does something a little different with this novel. Each chapter could almost stand alone as a short shorty as we catch our protagonist at different, though chronological life stages. We meet her in Zimbabwe, and follow her in her migration to the US as a teenager. In Zimbabwe for me the most memorable “scene” is her describing her mother counting her money every night. She is still holding on to the paper that has been devalued so greatly that most other people’s money has turned to ash- literally, using it to keep fires going. In the US I remember being scared with each page turn that our protagonist was going to be sexually assaulted by her aunt’s husband or his son whose home she’d migrated to. Fortunately it was not so, but it reminded me of the constant threat of sexual assault that many young women, especially newcomers are under when they arrive. 4/5.
I *really* want to love Nalo Hopkinson. I’ve seen her in person and loved her. She has a real nice vibe, her politics seem on point, relaxed, fun, mischievous an personable. Her writing however makes me cringe. As a full disclaimer I will state that science fiction/ speculative fiction/ magic realism is not really my genre. Her Caribbean infused science/speculative/magic genre does nothing to help. I enjoy the Caribbean-ness and Toronto-ness of it all but it never seems to fit for me. I enjoyed the sister dynamic explored in the book, and even the boundary pushing around sexuality, monogamy, time but I still can’t get behind it. Each page I turned I thought, why isn’t this the last page. That said, if Nalo had a reading tomorrow I’d go to it. 1/5
As I scoured the shelves I looked specifically for women of colour authors. Let me tell you if you’re not looking for advice on marriage or romance women authors are hard to come by, far less women of colour. How I found Ru Freeman I don’t but I’m glad I did. This book was excellent, tragic and heart wrenching all in one. Set in Sri Lanka during the on-going civil war we see how neighbours so easily get pitted against each other. How family trauma carries. It’s class. It’s race. It’s ethnicity. It’s pain. I came close to tears a number of times. It may just be my middle class upbringing that made me identify so much with the protagonist family, but in that privilege comes great responsibility. Not to pity or condescend, but to share be generous, to be aware and be patient. There are always moments for us to show generousity, and we often lose that as we age, especially the teen years when our contemporaries need us most. 4/5
What did you read this summer?