Review of a Young Adult book on Slavery still relevant today: Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Chains (Seeds of America, #1)Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so glad I spotted (#Coverlove!) this book in the library, my second read by wonderfully supportive author Laurie Halse Anderson. This first person, past tense Young Adult historical coming of age novel was amazing! Halse Anderson does an excellent job of distinguishing indentured servitude from slavery from hired service while characterizing the main characters quickly and effectively. An excellent and poignant reference to the Memphis Garbage Workers’ Strike via a slave father’s sale is just one of the many places in this work that moves to tears, both of terror and of joy, in the end. Please read this one, as I know I shall, again and again.

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

April, 12019 HE

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Black Women Writers at Work: Review of an older but very persistently worthwhile book

I am so glad I happened to see this book Black Women Writers at WorkBlack Women Writers at Work by Claudia Tate
at the public library.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was moved with both recognition, and with fear, at Audre Lorde’s comment that “it’s scary because we’ve been through that before. It was called the fifties.” Then I was moved with that stirring to act, upon reading in print what I have known and been told in different words since Dunbar (High School): “My responsibility is to speak the truth… with as much precision and beauty as possible. … We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.”
And we must not remain silent while the blood of our sisters/brothers/neighbors/communities/fellow human beings is shed.

Sherley Anne Williams reiterates this responsibility of a writer to write as well as one can and to “say as much of the truth as I can see at any given time.”

Although this book is dated, and does not include my favorite author (Octavia Butler), I am so glad that I read this book in spite of my initial misgivings. From Bambara’s hope that “We care too much … to negotiate a bogus peace,” to DeVeaux’s “responsibility to see,” I find my own compulsion to write validated by the responsibility of a writer to render individual expression into a universal expression, and to give voice to the voiceless/unseen/erased. To show the unspoken and to “empathize with the general human condition.”

Society needs all perspectives because without those perspectives, we are missing vast parts of what our society actually looks like, which leads to deep problems. Writing, as was pointed out, must transcend individual experience, but it also comes from and is filtered through individual experience, so we desperately, as leaders from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to Octavia Butler have pointed out, need every point of view.

Last note (not in my GR review): I think that this book has helped me to see that my intended audience has two possibly conflicting sections –
I. those who have endured traumas in early childhood or also in adulthood, particularly due to structural racism, and
II: those who can change that situation.

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Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

April, 12019 HE

Persist: review of a good but difficult book

Stronger Than You KnowStronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This first person #YAlit novela (a bit short for a novel, I imagine) was both very hard-hitting in its accuracy, and very hope-giving, if a bit too much so, perhaps, in the ending. I find myself agreeing with another reviewer about the timeline being too short for certain things, but I can understand or imagine that the author wanted to give hope and encouragement, and teenagers have very short attention-spans and time-line perspectives, in general.

For me, this was a difficult read emotionally because it had me reliving events from my own early childhood and teenage years, and the earliest were the worst, as the ending of the book brought the external and internal conflicts together in ways that confirmed my own experiences very uncomfortably. But this is a very important work, and it is crucial to persist.

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Review of a book worth reading

The Female of the SpeciesThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, #TheFemaleOfTheSpecies, written in first person and present tense for all three PoV characters, is a book which is both difficult to read, and also cathartic. There are also some really good zingers, funny lines and situations, believe it or not, and some really spot-on descriptions of the humanity of one of the main characters from whom you’d not expect human warmth. I can only hope that I can make such a contribution one day, but if I manage to publish a book half as good as this crucial work by @MindyMcGinnis, I will feel my writing career to have been worthwhile.

I noticed that this was not her debut novel, and that the author seems to have had a bit of a time getting her agent to push for this work, which spent 15 years in a drawer. That tells me that these types of books are either coming into their time, now, after the ME TOO movement, or that I’d best better start with more light and fluffy novels until I get established as a fiction author. Either way, I am grateful and glad that McGinnis kept this work, and got it to see the light of day after all those years in the dark. In publishing this book, she has also helped many of us to believe that we can come out of the dark, as well, if not entirely whole.

(Reminds me of the female MC of Purgatoire des innocents English review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show… )

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How crucial it is to believe in The Good

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Upon reading again, I see that she uses the omniscient story-tellers voice more than I thought, in the first book, to excellent effect.

I find it amazing that Rowling managed to include child neglect, child abuse or bullying, ptsd and drugs all in one book, without coming off as preachy, and even giving it a happy ending. Then, managing to get kids to read it!

I only hope that my WIP can accomplish half as much, one day.
Shira, of The MEOW Community Cooperation Blog,
William-James-MEOW Date: 16 September 12014 H.E. (Holocene/Human Era)

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Review of Riding the A-Train With Einstein

Riding the A-Train With Einstein: Notes of a Heretic JanitorRiding the A-Train With Einstein: Notes of a Heretic Janitor by John H. Sibley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, let me say that this book is not, and should not be, an easy read. But it is a crucial read, in my opinion. Other reviewers have taken pains to point out that the title seemed a bit confusing, to them. I did not find it confusing, probably due to the fact that my father was called “The Professor” by his cultural cohort: fellow Black men of the Vietnam generation. So, I felt right at home with the idea of homelessness, which pervades this important work, when I started the book. I think that my Dad and the author would have gotten along very well, and I wish my father were alive now to meet him.

While the book itself was important, if a bit earthy, I personally found the interview and list of references most interesting, after the book itself. That is likely in part due to the many similar gut-wrenching memories triggered for me while reading the experiences of a man similar in many ways to my own father, a light-skinned Black man in DC, experiencing alarmingly similar events in roughly the same historical period.

The author is clearly well-read and working to raise points that are not only ignored but also feared by our system. The facts the author presents relating the slave trade and 1860’s market prices to current structural components of our American capitalist system are both taboo and inconvenient for those who benefit from our current economic arrangement. These are highly important things for all of us to look at squarely in the face, and to begin to shovel our own shit, as so much of the book does in metaphoric and literal terms.

Let’s #EndHomelessness, #EndPoverty, & #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our Public Domain Social Infrastructure:
#PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !

This post also discusses some of the background issues I experienced while reading the book and writing the review.


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

March, 12019 HE

View all my reviews

Review of a book worth buying: Separate and Unequal

Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American LiberalismSeparate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism by Steven M. Gillon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How sad that the contents and conclusions of this report are still relevant, and still ignored, today, 50 years after it was released in response to the riots in Newark and Detroit of the “long hot” summer of 1967. I found this book after seeing Dr. King’s response to the question, during the Memphis garbage workers’ strike, of what it would take to prevent or call off his Poor People’s March on Washington: the answer was to implement the recommendations in this report.

The report was commissioned to find out what caused the rioting, not how to prevent further riots. The clearest distinctions between those who actively participated in the rioting and their neighbors who did not, at least at the start of each riot, was the trigger of having witnessed or experienced police brutality. But what primed that trigger for action was the underlying anger, poverty, constant discrimination, and despair to which the Black community in particular was subjected over a very long period of time.

The report called for various measures to be taken which would have improved the lives not only of members of the Black community, but also everyone else in the nation. Measures like the elimination of sub-standard housing in inner-cities, building new schools, health centers, and community facilities, and introducing a guaranteed minimum income would help all citizens, not only those bereft of resources and hope when they were freed with only the clothing on their backs, unable to melt into White American society. From the disrespect by police, to the lack of garbage collection in inner-city neighborhoods, Black Americans were fed up with White America’s deliberate disregard for “the realities of life for many poor blacks” in the United States. This anger, combined with the criminalization of poverty (which was just beginning to kick off the era of Mass Incarceration), the lack of Black faces in [the media, police, highly paid professions and other areas of potential] power, led to a sense of hopelessness and fear that non-violent resistance would never break down a system which was inherently designed to break down the Black community. Ideas like the War on Drugs, brought back by Reagan after the Carter years, and Law and Order, parroted by both right and left, muddied the discourse around solving the problems that led to the riots, instead creating a cloud of convenient reasons to blame inner-city Black communities for their problems while ignoring the structural issues that had created and perpetuated the problems since the slavery era.

The conclusion drawn by the report, above all, was that the entire nation needed education and “a richer portrait of life in urban areas” and to hire many many more Black police officers.

I think that many of the issues of perspective mentioned in the book by the author in his analysis of the report and its time are now beginning to be looked at again, as the discussion around White Privilege becomes louder and more mainstream. That discussion is a necessary but insufficient part of the solution to our current problems, which go back to pre-existing problems pointed out by the report. Please read this book on the Commission report (and also see Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin), and then, write your reps!

Pages I found especially relevant included:

P. 6: 1966 result of creation of ghettos by the 1930s-50s urban renewal aka Negro Removal all across the USA
** P. 12: What a contrast: only 1/100 white people thought that blacks were poorly treated in the USA…
***Ribicoff P. 37: recos…
P. 100: “in the ghetto” last garbage collection (if at all), police disrespectful, school & housing dilapidated
P. 228 (and the answer to that boot-straps baloney:) discrimination and segregation prevented many blacks from following the same patterns which had been followed by immigrant groups, and limited blacks to all but the lowest … jobs

Let’s #EndPoverty & #EndMoneyBail by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4:
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

March, 12019 HE

View all my reviews

Quand t’es amené au cour pour rien avoir fait… When you are brought to court for no crime…

Click here for English below…


“-Architecte Numérobis !

-Oh !
C’est pas la peine de me pousser !”

… ça s’appelle (aux états unis) un “Body Attachment” -ce qui permet de t’envoyer au tribunal sans avoir commis un délit. Et le problème avec ça c’est que il y à plein des procès contre le démunies mais pas contre les riches. Souvent, les jugements par défaut sont obtenus sur les dettes qui sont bien au-delà de leurs statuts de limitations, mais les accusés ne pouvaient pas se défendre par un manque de savoir ou un manque de capacité à se défendre, et donc perdu soit par défaut, malgré la poursuite étant techniquement illégal. En suite ça mène à encore plus des soucies d’argent et même en prison, sûr tout quand on à des diversions pour ce qui peuvent payer, mais des procès et aux prison pour ce qui n’ont pas les moyens de payer pour éviter les procès. Après ça, le système de justice criminel a son propre montage des dettes, encore pire.
Des solutions possibles: Qu’on fait pas amené au tribunal pour des dettes, qu’après un temps limite, il n’y aura pas des procès pour des dettes, et sûr tout pas de paiements pour éviter les procès légaux. Et comment se fait-t-on pour éviter tous ces maux ? On incite les gouvernements de donner un Revenu de Base a tout le monde, augmenté par des Monnaies Locales. Et ça, c’est fait par la coopération humain. Même la Reine ne le peut pas nier.


“-Architecte Numérobis !

-Hey!
You don’t need to push me!”

… that is called (in the United States) a “Body Attachment” -which lets you be taken into custody without having committed a crime. The problem with that is that there is a greatly disproportionate rate of civil justice system debt collection litigation against the poor, rather than against wealthier debtors. Often default judgments are obtained on debts which are well past their Statutes of Limitations, but defendants were unable, due to lack of knowledge or lack of ability (illness, fear, no time off from work, lack of transportation, etc…) to defend, and thus lost by default, despite the lawsuit being technically illegal to begin with. This can lead to further financial problems, and even to jail time for those who end up in the Criminal Justice system. Particularly unjust is Pre-Trial Diversion, also known as Pre-Trial Intervention. Those who can afford to pay for Pre-Trial Diversions get all charges dropped, while those who cannot afford to pay go to trial and even to prison. To make matters worse, the criminal justice system has its own structure of debts on top of civil debts.
Some possible solutions to this arbitrary abuse of our justice system are: abolishing “Body Attachment” in the case of civil debt judgments, prohibiting lawsuit filings on time-barred debts, and above all, eliminating payment for Pre-Trial Diversion/Intervention. But how can we potentially prevent all of these problems at their source? We could encourage governments to provide a universal Basic Income, even if only in a Local Currency, potentially backed by partial acceptance for payment of local taxes, as many municipalities have done. This provides a floor on poverty, a floor on desperation, and a chance at avoiding the civil debts that often presage criminal justice system involvement, in our uneven set of systems. Even the Queen could not deny that.
Read, Write, Dream, Walk !
ShiraDest
February 20th, 12018 HE

Quand t’es amené au cour pour rien avoir fait… When you are brought to court for no crime…

Click here for English…

“-Architecte Numérobis !

-Oh !
C’est pas la peine de me pousser !”

… ça s’appelle (aux états unis) un “Body Attachment” -ce qui permet de t’envoyer au tribunal sans avoir commis un délit. Et le problème avec ça c’est que il y à plein des procès contre le démunies mais pas contre les riches. Souvent, les jugements par défaut sont obtenus sur les dettes qui sont bien au-delà de leurs statuts de limitations, mais les accusés ne pouvaient pas se défendre par un manque de savoir ou un manque de capacité à se défendre, et donc perdu soit par défaut, malgré la poursuite étant techniquement illégal. En suite ça mène à encore plus des soucies d’argent et même en prison, sûr tout quand on à des diversions pour ce qui peuvent payer, mais des procès et aux prison pour ce qui n’ont pas les moyens de payer pour éviter les procès. Après ça, le système de justice criminel a son propre montage des dettes, encore pire.

Des solutions possibles: Qu’on fait pas amené au tribunal pour des dettes, qu’après un temps limite, il n’y aura pas des procès pour des dettes, et sûr tout pas de paiements pour éviter les procès légaux. Et comment se fait-t-on pour éviter tous ces maux ? On incite les gouvernements de donner un Revenu de Base a tout le monde, augmenté par des Monnaies Locales. Et ça, c’est fait par la coopération humain. Même la Reine ne le peut pas nier.


“-Architecte Numérobis !

-Hey!
You don’t need to push me!”

… that is called (in the United States) a “Body Attachment” -which lets you be taken into custody without having committed a crime. The problem with that is that there is a greatly disproportionate rate of civil justice system debt collection litigation against the poor, rather than against wealthier debtors. Often default judgments are obtained on debts which are well past their Statutes of Limitations, but defendants were unable, due to lack of knowledge or lack of ability (illness, fear, no time off from work, lack of transportation, etc…) to defend, and thus lost by default, despite the lawsuit being technically illegal to begin with. This can lead to further financial problems, and even to jail time for those who end up in the Criminal Justice system. Particularly unjust is Pre-Trial Diversion, also known as Pre-Trial Intervention. Those who can afford to pay for Pre-Trial Diversions get all charges dropped, while those who cannot afford to pay go to trial and even to prison. To make matters worse, the criminal justice system has its own structure of debts on top of civil debts.

Some possible solutions to this arbitrary abuse of our justice system are: abolishing “Body Attachment” in the case of civil debt judgments, prohibiting lawsuit filings on time-barred debts, and above all, eliminating payment for Pre-Trial Diversion/Intervention. But how can we potentially prevent all of these problems at their source? We could encourage governments to provide a universal Basic Income, even if only in a Local Currency, potentially backed by partial acceptance for payment of local taxes, as many municipalities have done. This provides a floor on poverty, a floor on desperation, and a chance at avoiding the civil debts that often presage criminal justice system involvement, in our uneven set of systems. Even the Queen could not deny that.

Read, Write, Dream, Walk !

ShiraDest

February 20th, 12018 HE