Reading List, Part I
This has been the summer of good reads. And, although I wasn't able to knock out as many books as I wanted, I was still able to read a few really good books. Over the last two months I lost myself in Queen Sugar, Everything Everything, and The Hate U Give. Each book tugging at different emotions, sending my mind into whirlwinds of thought. Thoughts about life, my own writing, relationships, and my experiences.
I don't know what sent me on this read everything in sight frenzy, but it's definitely alive and well. It's not that I don't like to read, because I do. However, since moving, all of my books have been in storage and I hadn't turned a page in a year or two. When I decided to take my own writing more seriously, I knew I needed to break my readless streak. And, joining the Permission to Write team really embarrassed me because there were all these awesome WOC out here blossoming and I was missing it. So, here I am.
The next book on my list is a repeat. The last time I read this book I was a teenager and although I enjoyed the book, I didn't pick up all these gems the author dropped. Reading it this time around is eye opening on a whole new level. An adult level.
There are so many topics that I want to discuss; I honestly don't know where to start. I contemplated waiting until the end of the book to do a write up. Then, I realized I couldn't wait.
I'm only half way in and the concept that resonates with me the most is Midnight's hold on the traditions he's been taught.
It's mind blowing that at such a young age, he knows so much. He can literally handle himself in New York, a place that, at 33, I'd prefer to have a guide. A testament to fear being learned I guess.
Midnight is Sudanese, and his father, grandfather, and great grandfather have done a remarkable job with instilling values in him.
The fact that he has three last names to honor all of three of them is deep. Per their teachings, if a man doesn't know where he came from then he is already lost. This hit hard. I started asking my friends how far back could they name their relatives. Some of them could call them off, while others of them were a little stuck like me. I'm not a man, obviously, but legacy and lineage is important, period.
As if that wasn't enough to have me deep in thought , then Midnight discusses gender roles. I know for a lot of people, this is a touchy subject. People are offended by being told what they should and shouldn't do.
In the book, he discusses how his dad owns the estate where all of his family lives. His father is the head of household and he makes the decisions. His mother has her own business, in a building, on her property, staffed completely with women. She does what she wants with her money, she cares for the home, and everything else is the responsibility of the father. His mother respects his father, they don't argue, her eyes don't stray in the direction of other men nor his for other women. He worships her, loves her powerfully. To read the description makes my heart beat a little faster.
In addition to the gender roles, their family is also structured by their religious beliefs. They're muslim, and they take it seriously. They pray at specific times, and his mother is fully covered when in the presence of anyone outside of her immediate family, especially men. The constructs of their faith created boundaries in how they lived their lives. Their women were covered so as to not draw attention to themselves. They didn't date or have sex before marriage. And, the men valued and respected women. I'll also add that they were usually married by the age 14.
The interesting thing was when he came to New York with his mother, he noticed how differently the Muslims moved in America versus Africa. He noticed how mothers would go against what the fathers advised for the children, how the women used their bodies to get what they wanted. And, how every father had their own set of rules for life. He also noticed that religion, for many Americans, wasn't taken seriously. As long as you went to church, you've done enough.
Reading all of this lead me to believe that many of us lack tradition. What's more, we lack deep connections for who we are and that has us making it up as we go. We've devalued ourselves, and in a lot of cases allowed others to devalue us. And, as a result, aren't sure of what we deserve, how we should be approached, and ultimately how we should lead our lives. Most of all, our lack of understanding causes us to pass judgement more freely than we are willing to lend an ear to learn.
These obviously are generalizations, and are not applicable to everybody but it definitely applies to many. And, I get it, it's just a book. But in these pages are answers to a lot of questions. Do we need more structure, and if so, who creates it? Midnight's family moved as a people, how do you move?
Share your thoughts.