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Showing posts from May, 2012

Creole gens de couleur libres

I had heard the stories of the gens de couleur libres.  Their stories were the stories of my ancestors, the "old Creole ladies" as my late aunt used to call her grandmother and their circle of friends, these mono-lingual ladies who reluctantly learned English when they came to St. Louis.  In hearing the stories, and the ones long gone from this Earth, I have been devouring a lot of literature about Saint-Domingue (before it was Haiti), Haiti, New Orleans (before 1812, before the Civil War), and the sweet period of the late 1700's, early 1800s when the Free People of Color, the Creoles, reined supreme in the French Quarter, in a society almost to themselves, apart from the emerging Americans, Irish, German, and Italian immigrants who teamed upon the Gulf Shores, bringing with them things that upset the delicate balance. The stories of these people, my people, have lead me to many of the books I've read or reviewed of late.  I just finished  A Million Nightingales and

A Million Nightingales

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Moinette is such a pretty name for an exotically described young girl discovering life and those things that we share in common, during a time in American history, when it was more about what separated us than what united us. A mulatto slave girl in antebellum rural Louisiana has to navigate her coming-of-age through the complicated bayou of inter-racial relations (forced or concensual), bondage, ownership, men, women, family, and endless wonderings of life. To a point, A Million Nightingales, could be a young girl's discovery of biology, science.  Moinette's young mistress had an insatiable appetite for learning and broke the law and custom, and shared that learning with her slave.  All Cephaline's wonderings and scientific discoveries were imprinted onto Moinette and served as a backdrop as Moinette took us on the journey of her life from the first time she was taken from her Seneglese mother to her horrible death at the hands of the disease left in her from a white d

The Wench

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Strong women, impossible situations. The women who took the journey from various parts of the antebellum south to the resorts of the north to be a "couple" with their slaveowners, endured beyond modern comprehension. Love, technically and in the purest sense, knows no color, culture, ethnicity, religion, color, economics.  In the purest sense, it is blind.  Yet, can it be pure when one is owned by the other and the reason for the "holiday" was the sexual exploitation of the other? My questions probably resonated with some of the women in the book like the oldest one who was given away to the resort owner for his depraved sexual exploits to the youngest who was confused by the promises of her "first and only" who fathered children with her and dangled freedom in front of them like a carrot, she being almost white herself, her children technically 1/8th white, the owner not wanting to lose his "property" and "investment." Througho

What A Black Girl Reads For College

I had the pleasure of working with one of my son's good friends to plan his surprise 18th birthday.  She is a young lady who will graduate with him in a couple weeks and then head off to college.  In honor of her and my gift to thank here, here is my list of what black (and frankly, white girls who want to read good literature with strong female protagonists should read in their freshman lit class, something to ponder, explore, and wonder about the world. 1. Let The Lion Eat Straw by Ebele Oseye 2. Brown Girl, Brown Stones by Paule Marshall 3. River Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke 4. Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid 5. Daughter by Asha Bandale There are other books she will encounter, there will inevitably be a Toni Morrison volume in her selection and almost everyone should read about the strong woman in Zora Neale Hurston's book Their Eyes Were Watching God. I have continued with my quest to read black female literature and read beyond The Color Purple, while this is a

College Book List

My son graduates this month. Then he is heading off to college, like many of his friends. He will have all the things he needs for his dorm. And he will have something else, books. I live to read, as do many of my kids, this one, not so much, however, when he does and talks about it, he is good. He is heading off to college with the following books as must-reads on the path to adult black manhood. his Bible, of course Native Son and Black Boy by Richard Wright Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Song Yet Sung by James McBride Song of Solomon and Jazz by Toni Morrison (even though he read these in AP Lit) Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody the Measure of a man by Sidney Poitier narrative of the Life of Frederick Duglass souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. duBois native Stranger by Eddy Harris Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington before the Mayflower by Lerone Bennett jr. man child in the Promise Land by Claude Brown These are just a start What books would you select for the 18-24