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Our Souls at Night
Gratitude for Being a Writer
Dear “White” People, please read Between the World and Me
The Bench: a short story
Meeting Randall Platt
The Beloved Community
The Immeasurable Distance Between Us
Remembering Peter Norman: an oft-forgotten white man in the Black Power movement
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Dear “White” People, please read Between the World and Me (1)
backtherethen: Loved the book. However, blacks and whites, old and young must still...
Meeting Randall Platt (1)
Jill Stanford: I met Randall Platt that weekend as well – very impressed with...
Remembering Peter Norman: an oft-forgotten white man in the Black Power movement (1)
Yoleen: I remember that moment, too, and I was six years old at the time. Tolerance and...
Today, April 25, is “Reversing Diabetes Action Day” (3)
jocelyn: I hope you're doing OK now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Simply...
Appearances by Tom
Author Stuff, Writing
Coming to the Table
Gather at the Table
Inheriting the Trade
Race, Oppression, Privilege
Traces of the Trade
Trauma and Healing
Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!
In early December I contacted an author from Seattle I met in the summer of 2006. Anne Mini was the “resident writer” for the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association that year. She devotes her extensive blog to helping writers. If you’re interested in writing you should definitely check out Anne’s site. It is filled with practical advice on every aspect of writing. Anne was kind enough to announce the pending publication of my book on her blog on December 6.
Then she asked me if I would write a guest blog about my journey as a writer getting published for the first time. Of course I complied and you can read it at Anne’s site, called Author! Author!
Thank you, Anne.
On January 1 we will celebrate the coming of the New Year. Some will pause to observe the 145th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Few are aware that New Year’s day next week marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in the United States, a law that was implemented January 1, 1808.
Read about this milestone in American history at my blog post on the subject at the Beacon Broadside.
Many years ago I reviewed movies, books, and live theatre for local radio, television, and a monthly arts paper. I rated movies on a dollar value. If it cost $5.00 for a ticket to the movies, I rated films by suggesting how it compared with the price of admission (oh, this one’s only worth $1.98, I’d skip it; or that’s a $4.50 movie, well worth seeing). There has only been, in my opinion, one $5.00 film. It’s the movie our family, and many of your families I suspect, watches every year: It’s a Wonderful Life. (For a fun little side trip, check out the thirty-second version with bunnies)
IAWL carries the essential message of hope and grace for everyone: No one is a failure who has friends.
I’ve been blessed to have run across Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played Zuzu in the film. Karolyn stays quite busy this time of year, as you can imagine. We’ve purchased autgraphed Christmas ornaments for each of our grandchildren for their first Christmas.
It is a wonderful life for our family. This is not the case for many families around the world. I received one of those ubiquitous, animated Christmas greetings from my cousin Dain recently. It starts out saying that if you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the people in the world.
Count your blessings. Cherish your friends. Recognize your kinship with all others. Do your part so that more people can know that it’s a wonderful life.
The word “reparations” makes the hair stand up on the back of many a white neck. It raises high emotions on all sides of the issue. Hearings were held by the House Judiciary Committee this past week and you could hear the heels digging into the hard Washington, D.C. hearing room floor clear out here in Oregon.
The challenge is often one of semantics. The way I see it, the word “reparation” is a noun and “repair” is a verb. They both refer to the same thing: fixing what has been broken.
Now the World Council of Churches, the Council for World Mission, and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, after participating in a gathering in Jamaica called “Abolished, but not Destroyed: Remembering the Slave Trade in the 21st Century,” have issued a joint statement regarding the need for “reparation” to address the transatlantic slave trade as well as modern-day slavery and oppression.
The key phrase for me in the press release is: “The process of reparation requires the restoration of relationships that affirm the dignity and humanity of all parties in order to repair what has been broken.”
Too often I hear people reject the notion of reparations because they are convinced that it means that people who never enslaved anyone will have to pay money to people who were never enslaved. It’s going to take all of us digging much deeper beneath the surface of the issue of race-based oppression to understand the systemic nature of injustice and the need to repair what has been broken for centuries–and remains so today.
In my book, Inheriting the Trade, I quote from an article Peggy McIntosh wrote in 1988: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” It’s a terrific article.
Now a film student at NYU named Aislinn Dewey has created a two-and-a-half minute animated film based on some of Peggy’s examples of white privilege. It’s really good.
The video has passed the first hurdle at WGBH in a Black History Month contest. Its next test is basically a popularity contest among viewers who are invited to comment on it. The winning selection may appear on WGBH TV or on their website. It is also designed for the small screen — youtube, ipod, and other mobile devices.
You can view Aislinn’s video and make a comment, thus helping her in the contest and increase the chances that this piece gets widely distributed.
Today has been an historic day in Washington, D.C.
Representative John C0nyers, Jr. (D-Michigan) chaired an Oversight Hearing on the Legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. The purpose of the hearing was to consider H.R. 40, The Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, a bill Conyers has introduced in every congress since 1989 but has never had a hearing until now.
Conyers pointed out that thirteen days from now, January 1, 2008, will mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in the United States.
This was the first hearing. I’m certain it will not be the last.
I’m new at this. Consequently, I thought that when a publication date of January 9, 2008 was set that it meant that’s when Inheriting the Trade would be available. It turns out that as soon as books are printed and delivered to the warehouse (I’m not exactly sure where this “warehouse” is yet), they start shipping. And the “publication date” becomes the first date of my author tour, when the publisher insures that my book is on the book shelves for anyone who wants it.
I learned from a friend in California a few days ago, who ordered my book from Amazon, that it had been shipped. Then yesterday I heard from a cousin in Iowa that she had received it that day. So it appears (though I am no expert and certainly can’t guarantee it) that if anyone is interested in giving Inheriting the Trade as a Christmas gift, that if you hurry to your local bookstore or order it online, you may be able to slip it into someone’s stocking.
Hopefully it will turn out to be one of the most thought-provoking gifts you give…
The complete guide to all the films being shown at Sundance is now available for downloading. The World Premiere of Traces of the Trade will take place on the evening of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 21.
To make it easy for anyone going to Sundance who wants to see Traces, here’s the schedule for our screenings:
Monday, January 21, 6:15pm, Holiday Village Cinema III, Park City
Tuesday, January 22, 4:00pm, Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City
Thursday, January 24, 11:30am, Prospector Square Theatre, Park City
Thuursday, January 24, 9:00pm, Broadway Centre Cinemas IV, SLC
Friday, January 25, 3:00pm, Screening Room, Sundance Resort
Saturday, January 26, 8:30am, Holiday Village Cinema II, Park City
There will also be a panel discussion related to Traces of the Trade, but I don’t know the time or location yet. My publicist at Beacon Press is arranging for me to do at least one book signing event in Park City as well. I’ll update the schedule page on my website when these two events are confirmed.
I fully expected to introduce the readers of this blog to Coming to the Table in quite a different way than I’m about to. Approximately two dozen descendants of slave owners, slave traders, and the enslaved gathered for a long weekend in January 2006 at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. We shared stories and meals together. We participated in rituals, laughed and cried together. We explored our unique connection to the legacy of slavery. We have, for the most part, stayed in close touch since, and hope to see an expansion of the table to which we all can gather.
Today, we are filled with grief. The family of one of our CTTT friends, David Works, met with tragedy yesterday. The family that was attacked in the parking lot of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, yesterday was David’s. Two of David’s and his wife Marie’s daughters, 18-year old Stephanie and 16-year old Rachel, were shot and killed. As I write these words, David remains in the hospital with two gunshot wounds. He is in fair condition and will remain in the hospital for about a week.
I’ve seen several e-mails from our CTTT family as we reach out to one another, all expressing the shock, deep sadness, and grief, as well as love and support for David, Marie and their other two daughters.
“Please keep David and his family in your prayers.”
“David is certainly someone that this should not have happened to. But I guess as most of us know, this kind of act is not one of discernment.”
“I keep seeing David’s daughters in my heart and mind. They were beautiful girls and so supportive of their Dad’s work with CTTT. He so loved those girls. It’s so sad.”
“This took my breath away and I cannot hold the tears back. When will this senselessness end?”
“What can we do?”
And this is the most frustrating part of tragedies like this. What can we do? It makes no sense. We usually hear about such events and they don’t have such a strong impact because we don’t know the victims. We typically think something like this “could never happen to me or to anyone close to me.” When it does, it strikes deep and painful into the most vulnerable parts of our being.
One thing I’ve appreciated along the road to publishing my first book is learning from the experiences of others. Jacqueline Deval, in Publicize Your Book (which I found incredibly useful in my own education on the business side of the book world), recommended reading Neil Gaiman’s online diary (scroll to the bottom of the archives page on Gaiman’s site) that he kept in the months that led up to, and after the publication of, his novel American Gods. It was a real eye-opener to me on how much planning, and how many varied activities, take place leading up to the publication of a book.
Though I have no intention of duplicating what Gaiman did, I will do my best to add posts to this blog about my own upcoming “author tour” in support of Inheriting the Trade in ways that I hope may help other aspiring writers.
My publicist at Beacon Press, Leah Riviere, is doing an amazing job. We communicate via e-mail regularly and have detailed phone conversations whenever it feels important to do so (2-3 times weekly at this point, just a month prior to publication date). Confirming a date at a bookstore, or other venue, that fits into a logical progression for travel is a time-consuming juggling act. And setting up the tour must be done in the midst of sending out press packets and review copies of the book to various media around the nation-with a particular emphasis on cities on the tour-as well as beginning to schedule radio, television, and print interviews around the time of publication in early January.
The January leg of the tour is now just about set. I’ll be starting in Washington DC on January 9th at Olsson’s Books and Records. Katrina and I are both set to fly to Duke University on the 11th and to the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City for “Let My People Go: A Service of Liberation” on the 13th. I’ll be at Linden Place Museum (featured prominently in the book and film) in Bristol, Rhode Island on the 14th. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing there yet, but I’ll be in Boston on the 15th and 16th. Then, along with Katrina and several members of the Family of Ten, I’ll travel to Utah on the 17th. I’ll be in Park City for the entire Sundance Film Festival (January 17-27) in support of Katrina and Traces of the Trade as it makes its World Premiere. We plan to schedule a book event at a Park City bookstore while I’m there. After the festival, I’ll fly to Denver where I’ll be at the Tattered Cover bookstore (the LoDo location) on January 31.
I suppose I should say this schedule is subject to change, but I believe it’s pretty well set at this point. Now we’re beginning to work on the west coast portion of the tour which will begin in February (stay tuned!).
After all the years of writing, seeking an agent and publisher, working with my editor and copyeditor, proofreading, and all the rest, I look forward to the next chapter in this journey. It’s all been quite an education and the learning continues.
For more detailed information about the tour, please visit the schedule page on my website.