Conversations About Race
I was pleased to get an email from my college classmate and friend, Judy. She said, “I’ve just finished reading Roots. I can’t believe I hadn’t read it. Nor have I seen the series.”
She said, “My daughter remembered that there was controversy about it. . . I wonder if you remember what any fuss was about . . . I’ve thought of you because you span those two continents and I’m sure have thoughts.”
Judy and I talked on Monday. “I do remember reading the book, but I don’t recall the controversy,” I said.
The book came out in 1976. From September 1975 to May ’76 I was in Sacramento working on my Master’s Degree in Education. I’m sure I bought the book to take back to Nigeria with me.
I probably read it that summer as I got resettled. Did controversy come later with the TV series? Do you recall? If so, please tell us.
Between the World and Me
We also talked about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me. It is the ‘class read’ for our reunion in May. Judy is leading the discussion about it. She said that was what led her to other books on Black history and Black issues.
She felt she got a deeper perspective on racial issues from Coates. He conveys so clearly the message that those of us who are white can avoid issues of race if we wish, while people of color cannot.
“Why do we not want to take responsibility for the change, the healing, we need?” Judy said. I wonder that myself. It leads me to conversations about race, including the “Beloved Conversations” we are having at The Unitarian Church in Westport now.
I blogged about Coates’ book in January 2016. Both my book groups read and discussed it.
Kathleen is a member of Baker’s Dozen, one of the groups. She is Black, and an Episcopal priest. She couldn’t come that day but sent a message. She wrote,
“Black Americans are undermined, devalued, dismissed, ridiculed, disrespected, subjected to hardships and limitations that others are not. Most profoundly, this web of evil is virtually invisible to those who are not its victims! And so the title of the book is appropriate. The chasm between those who see and understand (because we are presented with these systemic barriers and challenges and assaults constantly) and those who don’t understand (because, for them, the barriers actually don’t exist and the system works as it should) is profound.
Madeira and Technology
I follow the blog Africa In Words. They often issue a Call for Papers, or CfP. This one intrigued me.
Why? Because I lived in Madeira with my parents and my two children from September 1968 to May 1969. After that, I visited with my family nearly every summer until 1986.
My mother had died there in 1989. My dad came back to the US and died in Chicago in 1998. In 2004 or so my sister and I went to Madeira to bury our father’s ashes beside our mother.
Madeira is beautiful. I hadn’t thought of it as a place for technology. I don’t know what “Strategic Narratives of Tech and Africa” would be. But going to Madeira would be fun.
I sent the notice to our son Sam who runs a media and entertainment company in Nigeria. Our older son Chinaku advises him on financial and structural issues. Maybe they could present a ‘Strategic Narrative’ together!
Women’s History Month
Today I honor Virginia Apgar, a Mount Holyoke alumna. On LinkedIn a couple of days ago, I read about her.
“Virginia Apgar, class of 1929, was the first woman to become a full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. During that time, she also performed clinical and research work at Sloane Hospital for Women, where she developed the Apgar Score, an assessment for the health of newborn babies.”
I knew her name from my daughter Beth who learned about her in medical school. And I notice that Apgar graduated from Mount Holyoke the same year my mother graduated from Vassar.
I learned about the test, and I got a new word to boot! A backronym is the opposite of an acronym – an ‘acronym’ created to fit an existing word.
Any nominees for women to honor in the next two posts during Women’s History Month?