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.
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?