Sunday, April 08, 2007

Racial cleansing and other notable notes

Although we talk about ethnic cleansing these days, Americans are usually referring to things happening elsewhere in the world. Most people don't know about the racial cleansings that happened in the U.S.

A new book, Buried in the Bitter Waters, by Elliot Jaspin, covers 12 of those racial cleansings. The WashPost reviewer didn't give it a good review, but I'm still interested in the book. Particularly to see if it mentions the racial cleansing in Ocoee, Florida, which I've written about for the stage. Here's a link to the newspaper series that eventually led to the book.

I'm glad that the reviewer mentioned an earlier book Sundown Towns, which I hadn't heard of.

Mockingbird tops Brit List
Apparently British librarians are high on Harper Lee. They've ranked To Kill a Mockingbird as the number one book that adults must read before dying. Here's an interesting story about the endurance of that novel as assigned school reading. I think it's interesting that the novel is one of the key images of the U.S. in the British imagination, even though it's quite dated.

I remember a classmate, a Black classmate, who was offended by the racial slurs in the novel. I defended it, saying that that's just realism and fit the times. I am glad that we are also reading books by Black authors in schools now - or I assume students are. It'll be a few years before I have to deal with those reading lists again.