All Tied Up for 8-18-2017
Given the horrifying news coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia—and Trump’s truly terrible response—I’ve rearranged my TBR to bring books by people of color, especially those by Black people, to the top of the pile.
On the nonfiction side, I’ve been listening to the audiobook of “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America” by Michael Eric Dyson. Dr. Dyson is an ordained Baptist preacher and a sociologist at Georgetown University. He writes about white supremacy, white privilege, and how we will doom this nation to fail if we do not face them and their effects on both people of color in general and Black people specifically.
He narrates the audiobook himself, calling upon the skills he’s honed in the pulpit. Although he delivers it like a sermon, he acknowledges people of all beliefs, seeking to avoid making religion the wedge that keeps white people away from this necessary work.
He ends the book with a call to action, because it’s up to white people to dismantle racism and its persistent, horrifying, and deadly effects.
I’m not going to lie, y’all; it’s uncomfortable. I’ve had a pit in my stomach the whole time I’ve been listening to it. But if Charlottesville has taught us anything, it’s that it’s long past time we (that is, white people) shut up and listen—and then act. Having knowledge is a good first step, and Dr. Dyson will give it to you.
My fiction pick is just as serious and tackles racism as well, albeit in a different fashion. I sped through a reread of N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season” and “The Obelisk Gate” so I could be ready to go for the release of the third book in The Broken Earth trilogy, “The Stone Sky.” (Though I’m not sure it’s possible to ever be prepared for Jemisin’s work, to be honest.) The first two books are a punch in the gut, and so far the third is even more intense; Jemisin just gets better and better with each book.
The premise of The Broken Earth trilogy is that an orogene (think earth mage) created a great rift in the world, causing a cataclysmic event that will be felt for thousands of years. Orogenes, like mages in the Dragon Age series, are brought to the Fulcrum (think: the Circle of Magi) and trained under the watchful eye of Guardians. These Guardians can negate orogenes’ power, and can kill them if they lose control (or do anything the Guardians don’t like, much like the Templars in the Dragon Age universe).
It’s hard to say anything else without spoiling the incredibly intricate plot, but I can say this: Pretty much everyone in the book is a person of color. The few white people are described much the way Black people are in other novels—they are the other, the strange ones.
If you like science fiction or speculative fiction, beautiful writing, and tremendous world building, pick this trilogy up. Sorry not sorry for the crushing despair and heartbreak that will follow.
I also highly recommend “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas and “The New Jim Crow” Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander. “The Hate U Give” is YA contemporary fiction about a Black teen who witnesses a white police officer kill her best friend and the aftermath of that horrifying incident. “The New Jim Crow,” which I just started and am not super far into, argues that the way the criminal justice system works in American functions in a similar manner as the Jim Crow laws did—to keep whole populations of Black people “in their place.”
Every couple of months, the SWTOR guild I’m in decides to be competitive in Conquest events. Conquest involves invading a planet and competing for points via a set list of activities for a week. These activities vary, including PvE (like quests and flashpoints), PvP, and even crafting, which is what we’re doing this week. We’re not a super huge guild, so we tend to do pushes for points on the crafting weeks, because there are a lot of repeatable individual objectives. So, much to the dismay of both of my cats, I’ve been hopping on the computer and crafting away during my free time this week. (Also, if anyone plays on the Ebon Hawk server and is looking for a home, I’ll vouch for these folks being a pretty good group. We’re a casual guild that does a bit of everything. Feel free to check out the guild website.)