Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

In Four Hundred Souls, Kendi and Blain have assembled an outstanding group of 90 writers and poets to tell the history of African Americans. The collection begins with Nikole Hannah-Jones's essay on the 1619 arrival of 20 Africans in Virginia and ends with an essay by Alicia Garza on the Black Lives Matter movement. The essays and stories tell of history we know, but many writers focused on stories and people I didn't know, like Elizabeth Keyes who was the first Black woman in the American colonies to petition for her freedom, Lucy Terry Prince the poet who argued for her family's freedom before the Supreme Court, and David George who established the first Black Baptist church. Others touch on laws and events but they fit together, telling a history that we don't know well enough. Like any collection, Four Hundred Souls is uneven, but I don't think that's a negative here. Each of the writers has their own style, their...
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White Negroes by Lauren Michele Jackson

White Negroes by Lauren Michele Jackson

White Negroes is a great collection of essays around cultural appropriation and how it relates to power and privilege. It's a short book, but each of the topics, music, art, fashion, language, economy, feels like it's covered well with data and references and examples that get the author's points across. The book is well structured, meticulously researched, and very readable. I do admit that I did miss some of her cultural references, current musicians or memes or whatever that I'm just not familiar with. White Negroes is definitely worth reading. I learned a lot. Obviously, I knew cultural appropriation exists, but I don't have a clear concept of how prevalent it is and how damaging to the black community. And some of the examples are just outrageous. Jackson doesn't suggest there are easy answers or that the topics are clear cut. She does ask us to respect, recognize, and pay the creators, and to recognize how we contribute to the...
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