Monday, December 26, 2016

Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead

I didn’t know much about this book—except the title and the author.

And, let me tell you, right now, read it.

I’ve been telling people about this book, and the affect is reflective of the culture prevalent after this election. Bi-polar. People either love the book or don’t. You either get it or don’t. You either voted for Trump or you didn’t. The scary part is walking around in a world where you just aren’t sure.

Atlanta artist Cory Thomas illustrates the strange new reality of everyday life after Trump’s victory.

There is an underground railroad depicted in the book that is both highly representative historically but also figuratively. By following the main character Cora we are invited along the way to visit several dark (and I mean DARK) periods of African-American history in America. It doesn’t get better. If you are looking for an uplifting read, this might not be it.

At first it was a page turner, Nat Turner, I felt growing excitement because I knew she was going to escape, I knew she’d get off the plantation. It’s what follows that kept throwing me. After awhile I slowed down, savored the book—I was also afraid to pick it up. Afraid to read the rest.

It was the very last 60 pages, Indiana that gave me the most pause. Indiana—isn’t that the place with sundowner laws—like don’t get caught in town after sundown or you might not see sun  up? But there are also nice Quaker folks in Indiana that will take you in and make you feel welcome. There can be a little of both. Without revealing what happens, I can say this much, community can be a place where we can grow but also shows us the dark side of human nature. We can heal but also hurt.

After finishing the book I saw that in this new Trump America:

--people will quickly turn on you. 

There used to be hope—hope for a diverse, multi-ethnic America. But since the election it seems like people want to kick someone else down the line. If not because the color of their skin, then because of their ethnicity, or because of how they identify, their gender, or because they are disabled. I’m saddened that there might not be any safe places. The last chapter spoke to me—that there might not be any sanctuary cities for Dreamers, that right when you think we can all get along someone will up and denigrate, belittle, call you out. You might get shot in the back and the cop go free. Justice seems more and more elusive.

You must read this book, and we have to keep telling people to read it, even it they don’t want to hear it.

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