The Invisible Line was more about the phenomenon of actually crossing the “race line”, families changing from black to white, than about “pretending” to be something else. Sharfstein makes some really interesting points about what it means to be black, white, or somewhere in the middle (usually referred to as “mulatto” in the book), and the stories of the three families that he uses illustrate the difficulties in trying to establish a rigid distinction between black and white.
Even though I’ve heard a lot about how fantastic Beloved is, I never really knew what it was about, even when I decided to bring it home for the read-a-thon a few weekends ago. I knew vaguely that it had to do with slavery and racism in the United States, but somehow I had missed out on the dead-baby-haunting-her-mother’s-house part.
How did I miss that?
What the synopsis doesn’t tell you is that Jay is an African-American man who saves a white woman from drowning in the bayou in a very poor, very black neighbourhood, and that she refuses to say anything to him, his wife, or the boat’s driver. It also doesn’t tell you that Jay has a history in the Black Power Movement, and that this history is a very important part of the story, its effect on him (and some of the other characters) a key characteristic that determines how he thinks and behaves. All of this makes for a really interesting story.
I’d heard lots of good things about The Book of Negroes, and have contemplated borrowing it from my library at school to read, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet, so I decided to select it as the first audio book that I would try out.
It did not disappoint.
Sentences tells the story of Percy Carey (aka M.F. Grimm) from his perspective, as he lives in the world of American hip-hop and street crews. It’s a really good look into the mentality behind the people who get involved in that kind of lifestyle, and why they make the choices that they do.