Her at times lyrical and at other times observational writings in The Wake of the Wind
has given me a glimpse into the heart and mind of a time beyond my knowing.
The book is set in the waning moments of the Civil War and the dawning of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is told through the main voice of two former slaves who journey from the darkest, darkest places of bondage - Texas - to eventually a land where their next generations will prosper - Virginia.
Mor and Lifee have earned a place in my imaginary great hall of ancestors who paved a path for the rest of us to follow - all of us who have ancestors who were once captured from the lush green and vibrant winds of the great motherland of Africa.
Africa, that still weeps for her millions and millions of sons and daughters who were stolen to feed an insatiable greed, opened the beautiful story of this book and shared her thoughts about what she lost. One can only imagine if the beauty and ability that led Mor and Lifee to form family from the cobbled bits of oppression and create opportunity in the midst of opposition had been allowed to remain in Africa, where would she have been?
There have probably been a few books that have cultivated such a place in my soul, there are only a few that reach through time and speak wisdom and knowledge to a new generation, The Wake of the Wind is just such a book, if only the new generations will listen.
J. California Cooper managed to take the difficult story of the emerging freedoms of blacks set against the consuming frustration of poor whites who suddenly found themselves without the one thing that made them superior. This story touched on the history of America that is as complicated and interwoven as the high designs Lifee would sew for the wealthier clients. Like the thread that goes through the needle, the story of race and wealth in this country exists only because one was inside the other.
I highly recommend this book. If you are white - read it. If you are black - read it. If you are alive - study it for in reading about the anecdotes about things we grapple with today occurred, you become more equipped to respond, and respond from a place of truth.
This is one of the most revealing books about where my nation sits today, at another wind of change, forces swirling around like a tornado, each trying desperately to hold onto what they think is permanent, all hit with the waves of debris that twirl through the air, endangering us all. It is also a time where if we simply stop and look back and understand how we got here, that we can possibly, possibly move forward. Aman and Able, the first generation of sons born to Mor and Lifee after slavery managed to use their unique look to pave a way for the second generation after slavery and on into the future. Each had to forge a place in a world that would threaten their soul if they hadn't had the foundation, tenacity, and strong wisdom of their mother, the quiet hard work of their father, and the force of previous generations to rush them into a new life.
The wind blows on the old and the new, the rich and the poor, the black and the white - alike. The difference is if there is recognition of life after the wake.
The links to the previous excerpts I provided as I studied the book have been provided here:
You must read this book!