Poetry Review: Black Movie (2015)

Black Movie by Danez Smith

‘why does it always have to be about race?’ Because you made it that way! Because you put an asterisk on my sister’s gorgeous face! Because you call her pretty (for a black girl)! Because black girls go missing without so much as a whisper of where?! Because there is no Amber Alert for the Amber Skinned Girls! Because we didn’t invent the bullet! Because crack was not our recipe! Because Jordan boomed. Because Emmitt whistled. Because Huey P. spoke. Because Martin preached. Because black boys can always be too loud to live. Because it’s taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brother’s & my sister’s time, my niece’s & my nephew’s time… how much time do you want for your progress?

If I could quote this whole collection of poetry and prose, I would. Each one tugged at my heart and filled me with emotion. I read it pretty much start to finish, only pausing once. The words in here are achingly raw, poignant and beautiful. The prose is exquisite and painful and brutal. A must read for sure.

I thoroughly recommend everyone give this their time.

Graphic Novel Review: White All Around (2021)

White All Around by Wilfrid Lupano & Stéphane Fert

Even in the land of the free, not all of America’s children are welcome.

Well. WELL. This is a gut wrenching graphic novel about historical racism. It’s a familiar enough story to those who know American history – white men at odds with Black women educating themselves – but the story of the Prudence Crandall School is new to me: a young white woman goes against the town of Canterbury to open a school for only Black girls in the 1800s. The white residents of the village oppose her actions and treat both Ms Crandall and the children terribly, but the ladies are determined to learn and defy the ridiculous restrictions placed upon them.

The artwork is simply stunning and vibrant and filled with warmth and colour. The women and girls that are the central focus of the story are wonderfully done. In addition to the lone lady teacher, and the girls aching to learn, you also encounter a woman living in the woods who has no love for the villagers, and a young boy who travels around regaling locals with tales of Nat Turner, a real life Black enslaved preacher who led a rebellion in 1831.

This is definitely well worth a read for everyone, although I’m sure it’ll leave you just as furious and frustrated as it left me. Equality is for everyone, and we need more girls and women like the ones herein. I really appreciate this novel for highlighting this true, heart-breaking story of injustice, racism, determination and feminism.

➵ thank you netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review / review cross-posted to goodreads