Thursday, September 22, 2016

Between the World and Me

"Between the World and Me" by TA-Nehisi Coates

I read this book because I'm trying to understand what is going on in our country with racial issues.  I want to learn, understand, and see other sides.  I'll admit this book was a bit difficult to read as I didn't understand all of it but I am glad I read it.  I don't necessarily agree with all of it, but it did give me some perspective that I didn't already have.  The author is a black man writing this book to his son about race in our country and what it is like to live as a black man.  Honestly it brought to my attention things I never thought of, things that I don't have to deal with or think about as a white person.  It opened my eyes and for that I am thankful because that is the reason I picked the book up in the first place.  "The crews walked the blocks of their neighborhood, loud and rude, because it was only through their loud rudeness that they might feel any sense of security and power."  These young black men acted this way because they felt so powerless in their world.  They put on such bravado outside because of how scared they were inside.  "I recall learning these laws clearer than I recall learning my colors and shapes, because these laws were essential to the security of my body."  He is talking about the laws of the streets.  These laws were of upmost importance to stay alive.  "'Good intention' is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream."  Good intention doesn't get us very far, a call to action is what is needed.  Good intentions can be our excuse to not do what needs to be done.  "The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books.  I was made for the library, not the classroom.  The classroom was a jail of other people's interests.  The library was open, unending, free."  "Slavery is not an undefinable mass of flesh.  It is a particular, specific enslaved woman, whose mind is active as your own, whose range of feeling is as vast as your own; who prefers the way the light falls in one particular spot in the woods, who enjoys fishing where the water eddies in a nearby stream, who loves her mother in her own complicated way, thinks her sister talks too loud, has a favorite cousin, a favorite season, who excels at dressmaking and knows, inside herself, that she is intelligent and capable as anyone."  Putting faces to slavery makes it real and makes it that much more important to realize that these were people that were harmed and beaten and treated cruely.  They are not something we can look past.  "Then the mother of the murdered boy rose, turned to you, and said, 'You exist.  You matter.  You have value.  You have every right to wear your hoodie, to play your music as loud as you want.  You have every right to be you.  And no one should deter you from being you.  You have to be you.  And you can never be afraid to be you.'"

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

War Child

"War Child" by Emmanuel Jal

This is not an easy book to read but informative.  The book is a memoir about Emmanuel Jal and his life as a child soldier in Sudan.  He talks about the war and how it came to his village, how his family continued to run from place to place to get away from the war.  His mother was killed and that is when he went to a refugee camp and there became a boy soldier.  He had such hate in his heart for the people that killed and displaced his family.  All other emotions were turned off as he was trained to feed that hate.  He did things that haunt him still.  He was saved by a British lady who paid for his schooling.  But he didn't do well in school as he had so much emotional baggage and because all he knew was fighting.  He found his relief in music, telling his story, and in remembering the God his mama taught him about.  He found forgiveness and turned that into helping other child soldiers find their way.  "Fear will always win against pain, and all I had to do was run."  "Love?  I must push down the feeling, crush it inside me just as I had when I was a young boy and war had taken everyone from me.  I knew how love once made me feel".  In war you can't afford to feel love, all emotions must be pushed down so as to survive.  Emmanuel Jal has found feeling these emotions again not an easy feat.  "It is time for me to tell my story using the music and lyrics that are my weapons now I have laid down guns and machetes forever."  His words, his story is now his weapon to bring about change.  "I'm still a soldier, fighting with my pen and paper, for peace till the day I cease."