Tag Archives: racism

The Broken Earth Series – N.K. Jemisin

This trilogy is a science fiction dystopian fantasy. It is gut-wrenching as an exploration in prejudice and power. There is also a trigger warning of the death of a child. The first book opens with one and there are references through all three books to this death as it acted as a catalyst for the main story. There is more than one of these deaths in the story as well.

Each book is written in second person, as it is being written to someone to recount the events of the story. Because of this, the reader moves through the story both passively and actively. Also, each book is written in three points of view which change, usually in a rhythm every chapter. The points of view are different with each book, but all of it is still overarchingly told by the same narrator.

The first book has a big plot twist that involves the main character, so I can’t really talk about the details of the book. The world has for hundreds of years experienced immense natural disasters that are primarily affected by earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis that decimate the entire planet, called Fifth Seasons, and the effects can last from months to years. In order to survive, people live in comms that are built to weather most of the effects, with storehouses that will hopefully last.

Orogenes are people who can affect the earth, meaning they can cause or redirect a lot of the disasters. But people fear them, sometimes even killing their own child if they exhibit powers. A toddler throwing a tantrum could cause an earthquake that could hurt the comm. However, there are Guardians who are willing to take and train these children at Fulcrums, but orogenes are treated with fear as dehumanized second class citizens. And then, there are stone eaters who not many people have seen but are also considered dangerous.

The other things I enjoyed in the story was the use of language. There is a dictionary in the back of each book that explains a lot of the words. Some seem to be shortened, like comms instead of communities. The utility of this language is to communicate a lot of information in a short amount of words. Their middle name is their faction, like Strongback or Knapper which would tell people what their skills are. And their last name is the comm that they are from.

While I did get lost in some of the description and the science of this world, the plot and character development are really strong. There were clever plot twists and strong commentary on humanity and power and prejudice. I would recommend this series for sci-fi fans with a mix of magic, geology, and social commentary.

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I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown: A Review

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my, this book is good. Austin Channing Brown’s memoir of growing up and living in America is beautiful, strong, honest, heartbreaking and encouraging. She talks about issues of race, racism, white supremacy, white fragility, and white guilt, as well as the beauty and power of Black women and Blackness as a whole. I feel a little uncomfortable writing a review because I felt like this book was written for Black women specifically, but the book was so moving and so important that I want to talk about it and have everyone I know read it.
As a white girl, there were a lot of parts of the book that I felt uncomfortable and even defensive. I would find myself saying that I wasn’t like that (I’ve never skied or sailed in my life), and when whiteness was described as evil or hateful, I would get uncomfortable. But then, she talked about the stereotypes that Black people have to endure. That they have to be perfect or live up to the expectations of the white people in the room or they would be labeled as disrespectful, violent, underachievers, thugs. And I realized how much more they deal with just walking into the room than I have to.
Her writing is engaging. It’s a book that could be easily read in a few hours. The interludes between some of the chapters were beautiful. The letter to her son had me in tears. I have a son of my own, and the hopes and dreams we have for our children are the same. But I don’t have the same worries. It really prompts me to be intentional with my son as I raise him to resist and fight the ugliness and racism that is the undercurrent in our society, to stand up for those around him and use what power he has in his life to lift up the marginalized and oppressed.
There isn’t any harsh profanity that I can remember in the book. No sexual content, though she does talk about black bodies being used or abused in society in a multitude of ways. There isn’t any explicit violence, though there is one death in particular that she mentions and a trip to a lynching museum which was poignant and the conversation that came out of that trip is a necessary read.

Overall, everyone should read this book. That is all.