I stayed up until 2am in order to finish this book and I woke up with so many thoughts and feelings about it. I don’t know how to write this post without getting political.
I homeschooled my girls and one of the things we did for history was to compare and contrast Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States with Larry Schweikert’s The Patriot’s History of the United States. One of the things we learned was that when the United States was being settled, there were more black slaves than white landowners and a system needed to be put into place so those slaves did not rise up and kill all the white men and take the profits. We are still dealing with that system today.
In 2007 when Barack Hussein Obama won the Democratic Presidential Nomination, I woke my sleeping first and third graders up and had them watch the historic moment with me, tears streaming down my face, they were so confused and they asked me why I was crying. Because I had hope for our country. Because I was proud to be an American, something I don’t often feel. Because the country was finally doing something to erase two centuries of oppression. Because our country sent the message that skin color no longer mattered. I remember seeing grown men on TV speechless, crying, unable to talk. It was such a powerful night.
But in the subsequent 8 years, the GOP showed again and again that they would not work with a black man. Men who felt pregnancy by rape was God’s will would not work with a black man. Men who felt that women belonged at home and not in the workforce would not work with a black man. The GOP made their senators and Congresspeople take a vow NOT TO WORK with a black man, even if his ideas were good.
I was so disheartened during the 2016 Presidential election when I realized that our country really had not come as far as I hoped that we had in terms of racism. I was devastated when I woke up that November morning to learn that a misogynistic, racist man who made fun of disabled people, felt he could grab women by their pussies and had the most ostentatious show of white privilege ever at the Republican National Convention was elected President of the United States.
In the last 4 years, I feel like our country has been going backwards in terms of racism and books like A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler are necessary.
A Good Neighborhood is a book about a Haitian woman with a PhD in ecology and her neighbor, a white, wealthy Southern man who doesn’t believe in college, especially for women. He tears down the home next door to hers and builds a huge mansion, asking favors from friends and having officials look the other way in the name of cronyism because he is a rich, white man.
The dichotomy between these two people and the way they see and interact with the world is something we all need to be aware of. We need to bring awareness to.
There is a lot more to the story, but I hope you read it and I don’t want to give a lot away.