Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood - Bell Hooks bell hooks is a pretty famous feminist, writer, speaker, and activist. Unfortunately because of my upbringing, I didn't actually know she existed until my sister took a women's studies class and bought a bunch of bell hooks' books. Ever since then, my sister has been pestering me to read them. Since this is Black History Month, I thought now was the perfect time to acquiesce to my sister.

The best way to describe this book is a photo album. You go to your parent's bookshelves (or coffee table) and pull out the burgundy leather bound volume. You set it on your lap, the weight like a child, eager for your attention. You open the first page and are overwhelmed by the memories. There you are with that silly Easter dress, clutching your favorite stuffed animal! My goodness, your parents look young - when did they grow old? Don't you remember how just before this, you and your sister had been arguing over who would pick out a movie to watch? And so on and so forth.

That is this book. bell hooks doesn't write her autobiography in the "traditional" manner. "I was born in X to Y and Z in the town of Smalltown South of USA." Instead, she uses the two to three page chapters to create pictures, snippets, scenes from her childhood. The time she pulled her older brother in a wagon. Seeing her mother be strong one moment but weak in the face of her father. The joys of reading - but also the isolation of being "different".

This book was so poignant and so stirring. But also this book made me realize how privileged I am. My childhood was "tough", but I never had to be escorted by National Guards into a white school just to learn. I never had to deny my past, to try to be "white". While certainly not rich, my parents had money for clothes and shoes and Barbies and books. I didn't have to share a room with three other siblings. I didn't have to experience the near and intimate death of grandparents until I was much older.

I know lately it seems books have been trying to get the privileged to see the other side by switching the sides - instead of whites persecuting blacks, we get blacks persecuting whites ([b:Revealing Eden|12393909|Revealing Eden (Save the Pearls, #1)|Victoria Foyt||17375046]). Instead of straights persecuting gays, we get gays persecuting straights (I think the book is called "Out"). How about instead of trying to switch the sides doing the excluding, we instead read books, such as "Bone Black", about the life and struggles and trials that others have gone through and imagine THAT is US? That the person being persecuted isn't some nameless, faceless being, but an actual person, with hopes and dreams and desires, just like us? Maybe then, we could finally bridge the divide and learn to love instead of hate.