Sadly, I wake with the sun no matter how late I go to bed, and today am both PMS-ing and hungover from Mothers Day. But even if I weren’t a hot mess, the montage of black men flaunting bullet hole-riddled hoodies while cops watch and Method Man spits Bulletproof Love, his homage to Luke Cage, would make me cry and cry. How am I just now watching this Netflix series? It’s a brilliant articulation of race in America starring Alfre Woodard, Mike Colter, and everyone I loved on the The Wire save String. It upholds the tenacity of the African diaspora as our country’s true superhero saga. And in Season 1’s last sequence, the late Sharon Jones brings it all back home in a shimmery sheath and her eternal big voice. Powerful stuff, powerfully shot on every level.
Recently, my fourteen-year-old goddaughter, Delia, asked for a reading list. I knew she was serious because she sent the request by snail mail – the millennial equivalent of engraving a message in stone. “I didn’t even vote for this president and he’s ruining my future,” she wrote. “I need books to get woke.” Obviously, an equally serious response was in order – one that acknowledged the gravity of our national turmoil without exacerbating her fears. So with the help of far smarter friends, I assembled a primer of essential “consciousness-raisers” that are neither condescending nor obtusely phrased, and I organized them into three categories I thought might appeal to her. I think this list will support resisters of all ages, for one of literature’s greatest services is to re-rear the scared, angry kids we each carry inside us. But in the spirit of James Baldwin’s epistolary essay, “Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation,” the “you” to whom I refer is my goddaughter in the wake of the first 100 days of the Trump presidency. Continue Reading →