2016 Reading Review – Part I

In this segment: African American Literature and Memoir. (See the full list of my 2016 reading here.) African American Literature continues to be one of my most-read genres. I find it intellectually challenging as well as emotionally moving. 2016’s reading was no exception. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson | This was a […]

On His 149th Birthday

In honor of the birthday (yesterday) of one of my intellectual heroes, I thought I’d write a few words. I first encountered W.E.B. Du Bois in a college US history survey in my second year. We read an excerpt from The Souls of Black Folk and I was moved to read the whole book that […]

2014 Reading Review – Part 1

I finished 29 books in 2014. Considering what else we have going on in our lives, I think that’s a pretty good number, though I’m always interested in reading more. Since my reviews came out to over 2,000 words, I’ve decided to break things up a bit. Below is entry 1 of 2. Feel free […]

Ferguson, In Context

On Friday, for our last session of class, I taught my students about contemporary inequality in America and the process of racial segregation in the Ferguson area. I’d planned this since the summer, when I learned that I would have one more day of instruction than usual. I had no idea that the grand jury’s decision […]

Credit for Progress

I’m reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie right now. It fit my recent reading interests and is getting all kinds of buzz, so I decided to give it a try. It’s deserving of the praise and I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I’m done. For now, I just want to highlight one passage that describes […]

The Context of Violence

It seems our family is full of Baltimore lately, a city we’ve never visited. But my wife’s been reading Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, I’ve been reading The Beautiful Struggle, and we’ve both been listening to Serial. From these sources, it’s not a pretty picture. In reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ fantastic memoir, I ran across […]

It Disfranchises

By chance, I saw the news about the Texas voter ID law just before re-reading W.E.B. Du Bois’ “Returning Soldiers” from 1919. Du Bois’ piece is a stirring call to the black soldiers returning from WWI to now engage in the fight for democracy at home. In it, he lists the sins of this nation […]

When Change?

Right now I’m reading Cry, the Beloved Country, a novel set in South Africa and published in 1948. As I don’t know much about South African history, it is an eye-opening and moving account. But it is also a bit dated. There is a lot of discussion about whether apartheid will ever end, whether black Africans […]

Summer Reading

This summer I assigned myself six canonical works of 20th century African American literature. This was prompted in part by a student last quarter commenting that he had read either Invisible Man or Native Son (I’ve forgotten which) and raving about the book. When he asked whether I had read it I had to confess […]