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A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

Created: 02/01/12

Replies: 13

Posted Feb. 01, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
debracoley

Join Date: 08/11/11

Posts: 69

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I am looking for a time line...too late, too early, or just right?

THE HELP, DRY GRASS OF AUGUST, THE QUEEN OF PALMYRA, and THE HEALING all contain similar themes:
injustices that arise from racial bias. Why the seemingly sudden interest? Why do you think these
stories were not written at an earlier time? Are we-as a nation-just getting comfortable "in our own skin?"


Posted Feb. 01, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
sarahd

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 84

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RE: Compare/Contrast

You raise an interesting question. In Odell's afterward, he talks about the conversation he had with an African-American friend who encouraged him to create "strong" African-American characters. The friend told Odell that no black person needed another "To Kill A Mockingbird," a novel that showed African-Americans benefiting from white power without being given any of their own. I think Odell was successful in creating strong African-American characters with their own source of power. In general, though, as a nation, we are in a "stronger" place now than before. No doubt the fact that Obama is president plays a role, but we have also lived long enough past the outward manifestations of racial bias - slavery, Jim Crow - for many of us to have no personal experience with it. The younger generation grew up in a more open-minded society, one that was wrestling with past injustice but was not actively participating in it, and the older generations have come to terms with the mistakes that they may not have contributed to, but that they lived through. As a group, we're used to having dialogues about race, and I think the emergence of novels that deal with these issues in honest, forthright ways is a manifestation of that openness.


Sarah D
Posted Feb. 02, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
harriettek

Join Date: 10/19/10

Posts: 22

RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

The injustices of the past and the horrors that came from them should be addressed every once and a while. Then repeated and repeated so that they are not forgotten. So it is with slavery and the repression of blacks. So it is also with the Holocaust and all the horrendous tragedies that are still being perpetrated in many countries. For some reason, as the public, we are better able to absorb these injustices in novels rather than in daily newspapers or newscasts. Someone said that she enjoyed this book much more than "The Help". I agree. I feel that this had much more impact as well......


Posted Feb. 02, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joanc

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 2

RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

"The Healing" follows on the heels of the huge success of "The Help". In order to change prejudice of any race, custom, etc. the condition needs to be in the public eye. People need to be aware that it exists and the effects it has on the people who are victimized. Both "The Help and "The Healing" do just that. It brings the injustices to the consciousness of the public as a whole. These books help you to experience the fear pain and lack of control black people endured. The Healing takes us into the slave community and we walk with the characters portrayed on the pages. It is a sad and shameful walk, I'm sorry to say, but one we won't soon forget.


Posted Feb. 02, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 218

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RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

I tend to agree with most of the comments above but think that the distance in time from all of the events in this book as well as the other books mentioned is the real key. To speak of the horrors of slavery when there were people living who were there or were only a generation or two away from it would not have been received well I do not think. I think these are books that need to be written to reinforce the need for tolerance and equality and can engage people so much more personally than reading a history lesson. I know a lot of the history I know of our country and the world comes from reading novels which made the facts and people and dates of history real enough for me to really remember.


Posted Feb. 03, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
susann

Join Date: 04/28/11

Posts: 10

RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

There seems to be a belief among a large number of Americans that racism is a thing of the past. After all, we elected an African-American president. That certainly is a sign of changing attitudes, but the evils of racism and the economic, social, and psychological results are definitely still with us. I think the authors of these books recognize the importance of reminding and educating readers about the issues surrounding slavery and racial prejudice that have been as important as any other factors in shaping the history of this country.


Posted Feb. 03, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Tennis Chik

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 4

RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

Wonderful question. I must answer from my own northeastern white bias is that perhaps - sadly again - that these books lend insight into the culture of slavery, post slavery (1960's memphis) Racism, that has been beyond the general scope of literature to date. I feel as though I am allowed to see into a very sacred place within these books (most notably The Help and The Healing) - perhaps even invited to see...that I may not have been allowed otherwise as a white american woman. It's almost like I see the pain and suffering of so many slavery generations and the aftermath and can finally finally be allowed to have a glimpse into that powerful zone within the confines of racism - yet beyond - with themes of womanhood, motherhood, etc. I find that both of these books lend themselves to themes that allow us to remember - that we are mothers, wives, writers, readers, doctors and patients...there is a connection to soulfulness that is only now able to be recognized. I am sorry I do not have better words for my thoughts...but i do believe - quite simply - that there is a change. the change in literature...allows truly for an understanding and perhaps - a healing. thankfully...


Posted Feb. 03, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
terryd

Join Date: 12/04/11

Posts: 10

RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

The Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement were mostly political. I think we all have to hear about the people who were affected by these historical events. The Help really sugar-coated the generation that came after. When we read about strong characters like Polly and Old Silas we recognize that not all slaves were meek in servitude.


Posted Feb. 06, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
beverlyj

Join Date: 12/22/11

Posts: 33

RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

There have always been stories written about racial injustice.
Interesting that the stories you have mentioned were all written by white authors.


Posted Feb. 07, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

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RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

People are more cognizant now of their biases and the unjustices that have been perpetrated onto others. Racism had been so ingrained in our culture that most people did not even have a consciousness of what they were seeing. Writers like Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes and so many others have taken racism out of the closet and onto the pages of books. We, as a country, are attempting to fight the war against racism, not always successfully. These writers have led the way to more contemporary writers who are countering racism with their words.


Posted Feb. 08, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
EileenL

Join Date: 02/02/12

Posts: 8

RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

I think it is a reflection of our times, specifically a response to an increasing intolerance in our society. I have found lately some folks seem to find it entirely appropriate to express what are, in my opinion, bigoted positions. The authors of these books are there to remind us that it was not that long ago that this country tolerated terrible injustices. I am so grateful for these voices that speak to our collective conscience.


Posted Feb. 08, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 128

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RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

I think we have reached the point in time where we can have a discussion about racial bias and slavery without feeling guilty if we are whilte or resentful if we are black. I loved that a southern white man could write such a glorious story about black slave women


Posted Feb. 08, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

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RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

I think that there is still a lot of resentment in our country for the impact that slavery had. Congress had been thinking of giving reparations to black citizens at one time and it still may be an open subject. Certainly, many of the black people I know are suspicious of whites and resentful towards them.


Posted Feb. 08, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
debracoley

Join Date: 08/11/11

Posts: 69

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RE: A number of recent books explore injustices due to racial bias. Why do you think these stories are being written now?

Rebajane, what an insightful statement and one that I had not thought, as all the authors/books that I
mentioned were indeed written by women.


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