Category Archives: Reading

Thick Thoughts On Life

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I had the pleasure of reading an upcoming memoir/collection of essays by Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, whose previous work Lower Ed is a great treatise on the state of for profit colleges and how students navigate the various entries into education. The opportunity to read Thick was provided by NetGalley. If you haven’t had a chance to follow Dr. McMillan Cottom on Twitter, I would advise you to do so otherwise, you can find her work in a wide variety of public spaces.

In Thick, Dr. McMillan Cottom guides the reader through the thick lived experience that will resonate with many readers. Her voice is indeed thick like a nice glass of sweet tea that your aunt or grandmother would make with just enough sugar to make you feel like you could definitely have a second glass.

I was hooked by Thick after reading a few pages because the experiences described resonated with me deeply. The further I read, the more I was pushed to affirm myself and my own lived experiences. Each chapter was indeed thick in truth and wisdom.

I cannot wait to purchase a copy of Thick. As I read, I realized that each sentence would stay with me, in fact many sections are written on my heart but I need to have them highlighted just to bring them to memory.

One of the most compelling parts of Thick is how it gives the reader(particularly Black women) not only permission to be who you are unapologetically but it pushes you to not stop, it affirms you to say “Yes, you have been right all along and you have to keep going”.

Thick is not a quick read, rather it is a jolt of electricity to the heart that seeks to let you know that your voice matters no matter what you may face each day. While it touches on the truth that so many Black women have endured since the beginning of time, it does offer a new way of walking into our excellence.

In addition, Thick offers gems for various moods or seasons that you may find yourself in. It caused my deepest emotions to burst forth in a life affirming way. There were sections that made me howl with laughter and there were sections that made me weep in a way that only someone who feels seen can ever reach.

Although Dr. McMillan Cottom is a thinker, I would also put her in a category of preacher due to the life affirming words that she offers forth into the world and the refrain that serves as the hook to this swan song which puts freedom in our hands. The larger takeaway becomes what are you going to do after you fix your feet?

*I did not receive any compensation to offer this book review*

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2016 The Year Of Being Open To Life

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Hey blog readers and viewers. I hope you are having a great new year so far. I know I am. I told God and the universe that I wanted to be open and a lot of good things have come my way.
     I had two interesting job interviews this week. I hope to hear a good word soon. Classes started back in my doctoral program. I don’t think I have been more excited about a semester. Anxiety aside, things are looking up. People are showing interest in my research. I’m getting amazing feedback and that’s great fuel to keep writing.
     I renewed my gym membership so now I have to go. I’m going swimming tomorrow. I have been getting in some good workouts.
     I met someone. I know it’s early but it is so interesting. We are getting to know each other. We spend time talking. He seems to be into me. Which is surprising. I already laid down the law. He knows where I stand. So even though things feel great, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think he is intrigued because I’m not looking to hookup. I’m also very honest.
     We are using SAS this semester and I had to get another laptop and amazingly found one for just my price and all I need. I’m calling it an early birthday/dissertation gift.
     I feel like I’m in a really good place at the moment and that’s great. One funny thing is that now that I found someone to be interested in, all of these other people that I was interested in before have all made a point to reach out to me. One day I was thinking about how many guys may still have my number in their phones. I know that’s an odd thought.
     But whatever happens, it’s nice to have someone to think fondly of and know that someone is thinking about me too.
Well I better try and get some sleep.
May your tomorrow bring even more joy than today 🙂

My Thoughts On “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace”

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Hey blog readers,

A few days ago I got some books that I would call “fun” reading aka not assigned. One of those was a book I had seen before called “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace”. This is a book written about a guy named Robert Peace who was from East Orange,NJ. The book was written by Robert Peace’s roommate in college. Robert Peace went to Yale.

Are you still following me? Robert Peace was extremely smart. He was afforded the opportunity to attend Yale(he was accepted to a few great schools). Though the author makes a huge attempt to show what life was like for Robert Peace, there are some places in the book where he reaches a tad too far.

Some things that perplexed me about the book were what made Robert Peace believe that his only option while at Yale was to sell drugs? He majored in molecular biochemistry. He graduated with a degree in molecular biochemistry. So in the age of Breaking Bad, Peace kind of comes off as a low budget Walter White. After Peace graduated from Yale, he went back to his alma mater and taught high school biology. While he was teaching, he also continued to sell drugs. He had this idea to create his own strain of a type of drug and that’s what he ended up doing. So of course, his death was drug related.

The author says that he is not a sociologist but he frames a pretty strong demographic analysis complete with a longitudinal study of a neighborhood. The only issue I have is where are the girls and women that lived in that community? What happened to them?

I could not put this book down. Even though you know what is going to happen, the way the book is framed, it is a page turner. I tried to find reviews to identify with, but they fell a tad short. They attempted to find a place to place blame but there were too many factors and actors involved to lay blame at solely one person or thing.

One of the main things that gets me is the idea of the role that environment plays on a person’s trajectory. I mean there are so many stereotypical fronts on which to attempt to say ah yes, this is the answer. Robert Peace’s parents were never married, his father went to prison for most of his life(which Robert spent trying to get his sentence overturned), he grew up in poverty. But my question is, does environment play as big of a role as we think? Are the people who we would consider to have made it out of the ‘hood anomalies or outliers?

I also want to know if Robert’s dad was the one who convinced him that selling drugs would be a great idea. Because he basically held his dad in hero worship position, I wonder if that conversation happened because I could see him doing something like that to please his dad. Or if not, did he talk about those things with his dad?

Another thing that bothered me but did not surprise me was the fact that the majority of people who Robert sold drugs to at Yale did not offer support or services after his death. Robert Peace was characterized as the person who would go above and beyond for his friends and family. I also wonder what happened to the rest of the people in the book like Oswaldo.

I would love to see a documentary of this book with all of the people featured in it because I am left with more questions than answers at times. Of course the overarching question is why. Of course people always say that people make choices and choices have consequences. But how much of the choices that people think are ours to make are really made outside of us and forced onto us?

This book also made me think a lot about my own life trajectory so far. It made me think about my own family. It made me think about the neighborhood that I grew up in. Robert’s dad Skeet was so much like my own father. They probably would have been friends back in the day. Even though my dad put me in a position to witness the drug game, he told me never to be a part of it. It wasn’t even an option. It was this weird juxtaposition of do as I say, not as I do. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time. It will also probably cause me to ask even more questions. It will also cause me to write more on inequality in this country.

Shalom

Namaste