Monday, January 15, 2007

A Better Understanding

I've no right, nor special knowledge, but I'd like to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Dreaming of a society in which fairness reigns and all people have equal rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is not a waste of time if liberal amounts of energy are also spent working toward a better understanding of those who are different and to create an environment of acceptance.

Here's my offering of the day - words and art that will lead to a better understanding.

Online Media:
Must read books for understanding:
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is an emotional powerhouse of a novel with mind blowing imagery and unbelievable rhythm. You can feel the fear and rage.
  • Black Boy: An Autobiography by Richard Wright is a straightforward accounting of a journey from the challenges of segregated Mississippi to a self education in Chicago and beyond.
  • Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is another autobiographical account, this time of a girl.
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison is another truly memorable book with a view into the emotional and physical baggage of ex-slaves.
  • There Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is another rich look into the lives of poor, Southern black people.
  • Selected Poems by Langston Hughes
  • Annie Allen or any other poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks. By the way, I got to meet Ms. Brooks and listen to her read her poetry.
So, you ask yourself, "Why did she choose these?" I chose these because they are truly "Great Literature," not just something written by someone with dark skin. The books speak of the unfairness, the pain, and struggle of growing up black, but they also speak of the human condition that transcends race which is what we are striving for in the first place - a humanity that is color blind.

But for those who want more, try these narratives, free.


JoVE said...

A great take on MLK day. I like your selections. I have a read a few but might have to try a few of the others.

I seem to recall a rather good book by Octavia Butler (have I got that name right), too. Science fiction but of a thoughtful sort. I'm not usually a big sci-fi fan but it is a genre that can be put to good use to explore some of these issues. Too bad my memory is so useless :-)

zilla said...

Of course you have the right, and a lot of special knowledge, which you've just demonstrated. Your reading lists always amaze me. As far as I'm concerned, you can read Sandra Hill on the beach, or wherever you happen to be when your mind needs a break :-)

It's been a very quiet MLK Day here, with a fresh, thick blanket of snow.

wisteria said...

Being from Mississippi, I feel the need to preface anything I might say about race relations. The past still looms large in the South. We live only a few miles from where the civil rights workers were killed and hidden and where Edgar Ray Killen was just convicted in 2005, only 41 years after the fact. We are not all like that.

I've read a few books. I'm hoping to skip down to the beach next month for a week or so. If I can find a new Mary Kaye Andrews book, I will read it. I'm glad you don't think I am wasting my brain. Your opinion is important.

I would love some snow. I'm jealous. We have daffodils blooming.

Jove, I will check on that book. I'm not a huge sci-fi fan but you are correct, exploration can sometimes be simpler without the baggage of earth interactions.

Susan said...

Wisteria, thanks for the recommendations. How did you meet Gwendolyn Brooks? How great that is!

wisteria said...

I had a fellowship in multi-cultural literacy (before children and moving back to Mississippi). It was organized so all the fellows met, discussed, and ate a lovely boxed lunch once a month. Gwendolyn Brooks was one of the regular (once a year) speakers/readers. Yes, it was great!!