One of my New Year’s goals was to read one fiction and one nonfiction book each month. The books I read in February were Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson and Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain.
Tears We Cannot Stop (A Sermon to White America) is the first book I’ve read by Dyson although he’s written several. The book deals with race in America, specifically the white response to blackness. Historically and currently. It is incredibly well written but may not be for all readers. First of all, unless you are ready to deal honestly with race in America you will be offended. Dyson is brutally honest about what it means to be black in this country and the standard white response to blackness. It addresses the racism that often lingers just below the surface ready to explode at any time. I have never considered myself a racist person, but the book showed me that taking my whiteness for granted is equally harmful when considering racial relations in the United States. Dyson gives concrete evidence of the reality of white privilege causing me to reconsider many ideas I’ve held to be true. The second reason it may not be for all readers is that it can be difficult to read. Dyson is a Princeton Ph.D and does not dumb down his writings. I found myself rereading paragraphs to fully grasp the meaning and to absorb the message he was trying to convey. Despite it not being for everyone, I think everyone should read it. Black and white. Young and old. It is profound in many ways. Not many books cause me to rethink who I am as a person, but this book did just that. We must confront our history and our own thoughts in order to bring about change in this country. This book will cause you to do both!
Necessary Lies is a work of fiction but deals with the history of North Carolina’s Eugenics Sterilization Program. It’s set in 1960 and follows two main characters in rural North Carolina dealing first hand with this program. This book is very emotional and heartbreaking. Although these particular characters are not real, you realize that the story is the story of hundreds of actual people that lived during this time period. It’s 300+ pages long but I read it in less than a week (that’s good for me because I work full time and have a family!!). I became very invested in the characters and their lives, which for me is what makes a great work of fiction. Also, the ending was beautiful. I won’t give away any details, but I love when the author wraps up all the story lines. Another very well written book that I would certainly recommend.
I am reading I Am Not Your Negro for my March nonfiction, which is based on the documentary of the writings of James Baldwin and currently in theaters. I’ve seen the film and it was profound. I’ve not yet picked a fiction book.
The featured photo was taken at Linn Run State Park in Pennsylvania on March 4, 2017.