April Books 2012

May 2, 2012

Queen by Alex Haley and David Stevens – I could not put this book down!  Haley is known for his book, Roots, in which he chronicles his mother’s side of the family history and Queen is the same idea, but for his father’s side.  Queen is wonderfully written-I like how Haley really fleshes out his characters and shows people’s complexities.  I could really see and understand each character’s point of view.  By getting to know the characters so intimately, one can then really get a sense of how terrible slavery is.  It makes me ashamed that we used to have such a system in our own country.  Ultimately, this book seems to me to be about three things: that a Black person’s salvation, especially if they are light skinned, is the realization that they must identify as Black and find community with other Black people; that we are still feeling the effects of slavery in this country and that one can experience racist trauma so horrible that one may end up with very severe post-traumaticstress disorder; that Black people need to fully embrace education if they are going to progress from a slave mindset.  While the term PTSD is never mentioned in the book, it is clear by the end that Queen suffers horribly from it.  By that point Queen has been the victim of terrible racial violence and hate and it makes sense that one could have PTSD from the trauma of being a slave and experiencing the violence immediately after emancipation, but for some reason that thought had never occurred to me before.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good read, but I especially recommend it for White people to read, as it allowed me to more deeply understand issues of race and trust that continue to this day.  Because the book is so well written, and because it is about racism, sexism, and mental health, I posted this book on my “Related Books” page.  I will add a trigger warning with this book though.  There is graphic racist violence and a rape scene.  I got a little triggered after one of the sex scenes and had to put the book down for about a week to let myself regroup, so do not read this book if those topics will cause you to become unstable.  Also, the book was made into a miniseries that you can get from Netflix, starring Halle Berry.  I put it on my queue, but I’m a little afraid to watch it, knowing that there are going to be some scenes that will be incredibly hard to watch.  Even though I haven’t watched it yet, I’m going to go ahead and issue a trigger warning for the movie too.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I just joined a classics book group and this was the one chosen at random for April.  I do not typically like romance novels or the standard “chick lit” and since Austen is the queen of those genres, I have avoided her writing like the plague.  It seems to be a white woman’s requirement to have read at least one of her novels and I knew that inevitably I would be roped into reading one of them someday.  I dutifully read the book and it took me the whole month to do it.  All the people in the book do is walk, attend balls, and talk about marriage.  Boring!  I felt sorry for the women that their “job” in life was to find a man to take care of them.  The book did get better towards the ending and I did find some of the dialogue witty.  I even found I liked the main character, Elizabeth, quite a lot and I thank Austen for making her lead female logical and able to stay true to her own self, instead of being extremely emotional or shallow as is the standard stereotype.  There are several movie adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and if you feel so inclined to watch, I was told by my book group that the 1995 BBCmini-series with Colin Firth is the best one.
funny pictures - Betsey had clearly been reading Jane Austen again
(Betsy had clearly been reading Jane Austen again)

Recommended Links:

Womanist Musings  - What Beauty Is

Beauty is not the typical fashion model strutting down the run way. It is not a birth right or in genetics or something that can be dictated by popular culture.   There is no beauty in someone starving themselves to play a part.The cultural ideal is something very narrow. It is restrictive, and the honest truth is that beauty is open to everyone. There is no size limit, no age limit, and no color restriction. More often than not, the beauty comes from the words that people speak, the actions they take, and the expressions that shape the body and face they live in.    (I added the bold for emphasis.)

Womanist Musings  - Mad Men: A Father and His Daughter's Vagina

Heterosexism means that fathers don't consider that their daughters will one day want another woman. […]  When we talk about the traditional family as being a site of oppression for me this is one of the clearest markers.  Comments about the stress of letting daughters date, locking them in towers, greeting boys at the door with baseball bats are often portrayed as the mark of a loving father but in fact, they are anything but.   Wanting health and wellness for one's child, should include hoping for a healthy, safe and happy life of sexual expression, no matter how it manifests.

Captain Awkward - #238: If I tell my parents I am an atheist, they willdisown me

I can tell you, however, that it is possible to live without your parents’ approval. You leave home, you get a job, you support yourself, and you find other people to be your “chosen family.” And it is possible perhaps to make some kind of peace down the road, once some time has gone by and you’ve had a chance to totally reset the relationship. Sometimes things have to break all the way in order to heal clean.

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