Words! I signed up for a course with Writer’s Digest about Effective Book Marketing for Any Author. Jane Friedman provided a Webinar for writers’ attention to Literary Citizenship. My investment was selfish: I wanted to market my book of words.
Literary citizenship, though, reaches beyond my needs only. It is a responsibility to review others’ words right. This is key for topics and themes connected for the good of all humanity.
In my small world, words reflect my brand, mission, and intentions. And all my written words revolve around one theme. Human dignity. To elevate humanity, I bear stupidity by challenging lies. I extoll brilliance by sharing truth. Too many of us refuse to recognize those descriptors. Discourse intersects a pulsating line of privilege and ugly markers of racism.
Accurate reviews of books, articles, and posts dignify a writer’s words.
I read fiction and non-fiction. One author’s book, On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder reminds me of the lines drawn since the founding of our nation. Snyder’s book depicts the 20th Century traps that humanity can’t ignore nowadays– in the 21st Century. The same patterns then and now depict reality throughout the world.
Snyder references Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I taught that book for years. Familiar with it? Firefighters find and burn books while most citizens watch interactive television. It’s simpler to ignore words preferring feel-good fairy tales. It’s far more damaging to dismiss what challenges the mind than to process beyond a closed worldview.
Today’s firefighters are in the “two-dimensional” camp of my and our party. My race, my religion, and my words with social issues to take center-stage. Intersect? No! Today’s firefighters parade stored knowledge solely among hidden tribes.
Why detach from real world events? It’s tiring to read about ongoing wars, racism, and systemic privileges. It’s worse to turn a blind eye because we are anchored to our views. Acting for the good of all people equips us to honor humanity and store “a mental armory that we have developed elsewhere.”
That armory frames the African American history between 1959 to 1964 in my latest read. Harlem Shuffle. Fiction. But the topics aren’t fictional. Race, privilege, family chronicles, and the civil rights struggle play out with intrigue. I focused upon my experiences outside of privilege into race. Intersectionality is a snapshot of current reality. And if it’s not your reality, it’s still the real world!
A few women from my book club found the opening chapters choppy. It’s the shuffle! They couldn’t connect with it. Not me. I’ve lived the fast-paced movement vicariously through an ex-husband. His was a dance of gambling where the big hit was sure to come! I danced ignorantly until reality evolved into trauma.
The two main characters are Carney and Pepper. They live the shuffle. They shift among lines to climb a social stratum. Do they get ahead? What they learn is that “part of moving up in the world is realizing how much shit … [they] used to eat” just to keep up with the Joneses. Carney views the “world … a classroom” to learn as much as a young Black man was able from his upbringing and position. His learning morphs for readers to see America as it is.
Delve into Harlem Shuffle’s world. Add some of Colson Whitehead’s words to your mental armory about humanity. There’s nothing new throughout the ages. Only the faces have changed for the 21st Century.
It’s refreshing to cross lines into other worldviews to dignify humanity. Interrelatedness metaphorically opens the doors into classrooms for literary citizenship.