“How to explain what it was like to be Black to this white woman who wasn’t even Southern? That a Black child didn’t have a right to hate their Black mama? Hatred was not allowed against your parents, no matter what had happened. You had to forgive your parents for whatever they had done even if they’d never apologized, because everybody had to stay together. So much had been lost already to Black folks.”
That is what it’s like being a white person reading a book about the Black experience written by Black people for Black people. I feel like I totally get it… and yet I know I never will really understand.
This book will break your heart 20 times over. Each generation has tragedy and some have triumph and they all culminate with Ailey and her sisters. There were times where Ailey really frustrated me with her thoughts and actions but she got there in the end. Lydia broke my heart, I had so much hope for her.
In this epic generational story see the impact of generational trauma and cultural expectations impact each generation in its own way. Every parent wants better for their child and each generation fights their parents’ guidance repeating quite similar life choices.
We see what it is to be someone of indigenous heritage, African heritage and some mix of both and some who also have descended from a forced lineage with a slave master. Living through each skin color, those who can “pass for white” versus those who cannot and the impact of that on their day to day. We also get a fabulous argument about how “good whites” simply don’t make up for the bad ones. If even one person is suffering, those who are not have not done enough. There are some seriously hard passages to get through, but we owe it to history to stay present for it, to understand the suffering as well as we can.
Read it! If you’re intimidated by almost 800 pages, listen to it on audio. The beginning of the audio is slightly confusing because they jump through the generations pretty quickly but stick with it, it’s worth it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐️