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How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the…
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How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across… (edició 2021)

de Clint Smith (Autor)

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251983,277 (4.81)7
Títol:How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America
Autors:Clint Smith (Autor)
Informació:Little, Brown and Company (2021), 352 pages
Col·leccions:Llegit, però no el tinc
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery across America de Clint Smith

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This book explores the impact of slavery in eight long essays, each exploring a different place, and looking at the history of slavery there and how people view that history. He starts with a tour of Monticello, and has really interesting conversations with the tour guide, and with two women on the tour. He also visits the Whitney Plantation; Angola Prison, Galveston, Blandford Cemetery; New York; and Goree Island, Senegal.

Smith centers his writing on the humanity of enslaved persons, but, since it's focused on current travels, the horrors are a bit removed, which makes it easier to read and think about. He also gives information on how slavery was part of a global economic system; and also the relationship between slavery and racism. He points out that Europeans used the ideas of racism in order to justify the way that African slaves were treated.

Definitely recommending this book. ( )
  banjo123 | Sep 11, 2021 |
Summer 2021 (July);

After falling head over heels in love with Clint Smith, first after listening to him give an hour-long speech, and then after teaching his first poetry collection, [b:Counting Descent|29599121|Counting Descent|Clint Smith||49936361], last fall, I knew I would get my hands on this as soon as I could. I was not mistaken at thinking I would end up loving this, as well.

This whole book was done masterfully, as Smith reckons with several locations across America (and one outside of it) and how they themselves are (or are not in some cases) reckoning with the history of slavery in their pasts. I was incredibly surprised to learn so much more than I knew was happening currently at plantations and prisons. I had wide-eyed moments of shock when it spoke about details of Texas history, in Galveston's chapter, that I'd never been taught.

Time and time again, this man is a masterful storyteller, while owning that this was his personal journey, what it brought to him, made him think about, and learn, in turn passing off to all of us, to give us that next step to where we all see ourselves, our pasts, our present, and our future in this relation to slavery as well. Are we sharing and being honest about it, are we leaving room at the table for memory, or are we breezing past the questions we might ask or others might ask us of it.

I'm left with so many things from this book, but especially one line from the tour guide in New York;

"Don't believe anything that makes you feel comfortable." ( )
  wanderlustlover | Aug 21, 2021 |
I don’t think I’ve read any of the author’s poems before but as soon as I saw the cover of this book for the first time last year, I knew I had to read it. And while I went in not knowing much about what the book was going to be - expect that it was related to the history of slavery - I was totally floored by the way the author approached this painful past.

I have visited one plantation in the US till now, which is Mt. Vernon - but this was a few years ago and I hadn’t yet started reading up on American politics or it’s history - so I didn’t even realize that the place symbolized more than just being George Washington’s estate, it was also built and maintained by hundreds of people he had enslaved. I have come to regret my trip a lot, now that I know a bit more about the estate’s history, but the author here brought more light onto the lives of the enslaved people by visiting Jefferson’s Monticello plantation and also the privately owned Whitney plantation. As I was listening to the audiobook narrated by the author himself, it was pretty evident how the author was feeling during these research visits of his.

While the author comes to know a bit about the work both the plantations are doing to recognize and present their true history without whitewashing the slavery part of the story, it is still not enough. The tour guides and administrators also mention how difficult it is to tell the true history of the place while not being completely negative about it, because there are always white visitors who are not ready to confront the ugly truths about their historical heroes. This felt like a small microcosm of our current reality where more and more Republican politicians and voters want to curb the teaching of the country’s racist history, while also being completely ignorant (or maybe willfully so) about what CRT entails but using it as a scapegoat to pass censorship laws.

But these chapters were probably the easiest to listen to. Because once the author changed his location to the Angola maximum security prison in Louisiana and Blandford cemetery in Virginia, it was very tough to continue to listen to how the administrators of these places try so hard to whitewash their horrific past, especially in Angola prison whose history of extreme violence towards numerous prisoners in solitary confinement is unimaginable. And the caretakers of the biggest mass grave of confederate soldiers in Blandford just want to continue to perpetuate the lost cause myth and how the civil war was about state’s rights - not that they ever try to complete that sentence and say that it was about “state’s rights to keep slaves”.

I however, felt inspired by the story of Galveston and Juneteenth (it was particularly poignant coz it’s 2 days away) and how the declaration of the end of slavery was such a significant event - even if ultimately, it didn’t pan out that way in reality. While it took many many decades of violence by white supremacists and activism of courageous Black people to achieve some semblance of civil rights legislation, we are only now realizing how it’s extremely important not to forget all that history, because forgetting what happened will only result in history repeating itself.

But ultimately it was the chapter about New York City’s history that was eye opening. Because while the north maybe praised as a paragon of liberalism, NYC itself is full of forgotten markers of its own racist past - like being a major trading hub for all the raw materials that were produced by the enslaved people in the southern plantations; being the headquarters for all the major banks which used to accept enslaved people as collateral just like any property; or even how the beautiful Central Park is built upon land owned by free Black people who were forced out of their homes by the NYC government using eminent domain to build the park. And all this business created by the toil of the enslaved people is what built the economy of the country - not that anyone seems to want to acknowledge that while teaching history.

With this brilliant book full of visits to historical places, interviews with scholars and references to primary sources, and also stories told by his own grandparents whose grandparents were themselves enslaved, the author tries to give us a new approach of understanding history. It is painful and emotional to listen to, but it is also unflinching in its honesty, and in its earnestness that we should examine our own biases and not be defensive when confronted with uncomfortable truths. It is a huge responsibility to reckon with the country’s past and but only when we acknowledge it that we can move forward and strive for a better future, and make sure that the history will never repeat again. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic, but I particularly think this would be a good resource for students, despite its tough material. ( )
  ksahitya1987 | Aug 20, 2021 |
This book would not leave me for days. I've read many books about slavery, but none have left me as shaken as this one. I've just listened to a "sample" of Cokie Roberts book [Founding Mothers], and was slapped in the face by Roberts's lauding Eliza Pinkney who was left to manage 3 indigo plantations at the age of 16. Smith has left me to question just about everything to do with the founding of our country.

If I were to recommend only one book for others to read about our relationships with African Americans (both past and present), this would be the one. ( )
  kaulsu | Aug 10, 2021 |
Activist, scholar, and poet, Clint Smith has written a pretty great book with How The Word Is Passed. By recounting his visits to eight historical locations while discussing the site’s history and its significance to slavery in the United States, Smith manages to find that sweet spot between narrative, citable data, and history. Each chapter depicts one place beginning with Monticello and ending at Goree Island in Senegal, and at every spot, he interviews others as well as sharing his own story. There is truth-telling and historical reckoning here, but also some attempt to understand alternate views through his conversations with the people he meets along the way. An excellent book for readers looking for narrative nonfiction telling the difficult stories about slavery and US history. ( )
  Hccpsk | Jul 21, 2021 |
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