Book & Movie Reviews, Reviews

What is the cost of a Black Life? – #BookReview of #PunchingTheAir by #IbiZoboi & #DrYusefSalaam

โ€œ๐˜ˆ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ข ๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ, ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฒ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ. ๐˜ˆ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ด, ๐˜ช๐˜ง ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ, ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ต, ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜บ; ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ท๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ถ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ฉ ๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ.โ€ โ€• ๐˜‘๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜‰๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ

๐…๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฐ Readers, ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฆ๐š๐ค๐ž๐ฌ ๐š ๐›๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ง๐ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ?

Over the last month, I had the chance to read Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam thanks to the kindness of Harper Collins and Karina @AFirePages.  As an avid Ibi Zoboi fan and an admirer of the tenacity of the Exonerated Five, getting an ARC of this book was one of the highlights of my year.

Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam book follows the story of Amal, a sixteen-year-old Black artist, who is convicted of a crime of aggravated assault against a White boy. But, Amal’s real crime stems from being born Black.

According to the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research โ€œthe U.S. currently houses the worldโ€™s largest prison population,โ€ with Blacks having a conviction rate thatโ€™s โ€œfive times higherโ€ than their White counterparts. And, thanks to the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Booker in 2005, which gave judges more discretion over sentencing and imposing harsher or more lenient sentences than the U.S. Sentencing Commissions guidelines called for, judges have now found it easier to punish BIPOC men, like Amal.

Thus, when readers see Amal claiming his innocence in court and being convicted to a harsh sentence at a young age, it hurts. As a minority reader, you will more than likely not only remember Dr. Yusef and the Exonerated Fiveโ€™s case, but probably can also relate to Amalโ€™s plight because you remember the a loved one or friend whoโ€™s also experienced harsh sentencing and lost years behind bars.

What I enjoyed most about this #OwnVoice novel in verse is that it is not only raw and real, but it feels honest. Amal is a character that I saw my brother, cousins, and nephews in. He is a boy who has high hopes, but gets painted as a monster by society instead of embraced for his art and potential.

The White educators and lawyers in his life masquerade as these Anti-racist figures and do-gooders, but when their feet are held to the fire, they act in their own self-interest.

Zoboi and Dr. Salaamโ€™s book is an essential read, and I hope that you also pick it up and read it alongside Just Mercy by Bryan and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. 

Standard
Book & Movie Reviews, Reviews

Calling on the Ancestors: A Book Review of The Deep by Rivers Solomon

If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.โ€ โ€”James Baldwin

When I was teen, I read this book called, Like Sisters on the Homefront by Rita Williams-Garcia, and in it, thereโ€™s a part that talks about how one member of the main characterโ€™s family is entrusted with remembering the ancestral history in itโ€™s entirety. When this person dies, he/she/they must pass on their familyโ€™s history to the next generation until itโ€™s time for them to relinquish their role. As I came to the end of The Deep by Rivers Solomonโ€™s book, I was put in mind of this practice of remembering.

As the descendant of American Chattel Slavery, I am many generations removed from my ancestral home. There is no one who can remember who we were or where we came from before my ancestors landed on the shores of Charleston, South Carolina chained up in the hull of a ship. Sadly, there is no one who can really tell us how our forefather and foremothers ended up on those ships to begin with. I am much like the lost mer-people that Solomonโ€™s main character, Yetu, has the task with โ€œremindingโ€ about their history.

For me, reading Solomonโ€™s book feels akin to being taunted. African-Americans have forever been set adrift in the world and the more we try to establish ourselves with traditions and culture, the world steals it from us idea by idea, stitch by stitch, and one collagen shot at a time. Therefore, when I listen to the song Solomon based their book off of by Clipping, and hear Daveed Diggs ask if โ€œyโ€™all remember?,โ€ I find myself growing frustrated because I donโ€™t remember! Iโ€™ve hit a road block after a period of time and no amount of Ancestry DNA reports will set me straight.


This song by Clipping. was done as an homage to the Detroit Acid / Techno duo, Drexciya. The band features David Diggs of Broadway Hamilton fame. Clipping has said that they are currently planning to release more music based off of Rivers Solomons’ book in the future.

If you are looking for a short book or love Science Fiction books, PLEASE read this! I would also suggest reading The Black God’s Drums by P. Djรจlรญ Clark or The Binti Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor.

“Vicissitudes,” Jason deCaires Taylor’s. Grenada, Museo Atlรกntico.

Likewise, if you are an art aficionado, please checkout Jason deCaires Taylor’s submerged artwork that is entitled, “Vicissitudes.” The work was done in honor of the African slaves that died during the Middle Passage and is eco friendly. Taylor, an Anglo-Guyanese sculptor, work is located in the Museo Atlรกntico, which is underwater near Grenada.

Standard