Showing posts from February, 2014


There is truly a reason why anything written by J. California Cooper has a permanent home in my library. Her work is lyrical, poetic, thoughtful, and troubling. Reading family  took my heart on a journey of deep reflection, connection with the human spirit, pride in the survival of my people, and saddness for the evil that rested in the heart of man to do the things that slavery allowed him to do.  That whiteness became the license to rape and kill and destroy and hate. Even in hating the actions, in reading her work, one understands the universality of the black mother and was transported back, in a way, to what the creation of man was like in the very, very beginning. This is more of narration of one of the "great cloud of witnesses" who in wanting to spare herself and her children more indignities that were in the land during the decades before the Civil War, she inadvertently set them on a course that would affect decades.  Becoming a watcher and traveler in that

Books, Books, Books, In Honor of Black History Month

It  is Black History Month and as my city continues to honor the contributions of the children of Africa in America, I pause to add a bit of literature to that celebration. I have literally read and reviewed lots of books that are complete, fully realized, and filled with depth about black men and women.  Some are literary fiction (I neither read nor review that urban erotica genre stereotype pushed out by some publishing houses as black female fiction) and some are non-fiction works. Some of the books I've read, fiction and non-fiction, that I highly recommend include: The Wake of the Wind by J. California Cooper The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood Still Life in Harlem by Eddy Harris The Street by Ann Petry Let The Lion Eat Straw by Ebele Oseye Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid Angel of Harlem by Kuwana Haulsey Fifth Born by Zelda Lockhart River Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison A Gatheri

Miss Ophelia

Coming of age stories have the power to attach themselves to our memory and live there forever. This tender tale, set in 1948 rural Virginia, is just such a sweet reminisce, told in the first person, of Isabel "Belly" Anderson and the summer of her eleventh year. Eleven is that right-on-the-cusp age between childhood frivolity and puberty angst.  That time of carefree wonder and innocent curiosity.  It is when one just wants to sleep past seven, drink lemonade, eat homemade chocolate cake, read books, and eavesdrop on the adults still acting like children -  especially in the slow moving, Jim Crow, quiet summer south. The book brought an imagined scene between my daughters, ages ten and twelve, to our annual family cookout, also in July, and them listening to the last remaining matriarch talk about her childhood.  Children are mesmerized by elders talking about how they used to play, their friends, worrying about how they braid their hair.  My aunt, still wears her rea