Book Babble |Black Faces, White Spaces

(If you read my Nonfiction November post you already know that Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimaging the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney was on my TBR list under the wander/wonder portion of the themed challenges.)

Thoughts:

18640643Finney, in six brilliantly written chapters, examines why African Americans are so underrepresented in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism and the relationship that African Americans have with the environment vs white Americans.

She draws upon; collective memories of slavery and Jim Crow, the timing of the creation and passing of the Wilderness Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, how African Americans are often personified as being animals, and how hard it is for African Americans to see images of themselves engaging with outdoor recreation that goes beyond sports.

One of my favorite portions of this book, and the one that resonated with me the most, is when Finney goes into detail about how more often than not, in flyers or brochures that market outdoor activities African Americans are either not present, pictured terrified of an experience, or working while whites are pictured happily having fun in leisurely recreational activities. It’s something that I’ve actually noticed a lot during my own hikes and travels and it’s nice to see that I wasn’t going crazy or making a big deal out of nothing.

I absolutely loved this book and I loved every second of reading it. Finney’s writing style is incredibly academic and there were a few moments where I did have to pause and actually think about what it was that I just read; which is fantastic.

Let me know if you’ve read this book before, what your thoughts are on nature and the great outdoors, or what some of your biases are concerning outdoor recreation!

Read This Book If:

  • You are a PoC and curious about either other’s aversion to nature or your own.
  • Curious about the role that race plays in environmentalism.
  • Looking to diversify your environmental studies reading selection

Book Information:

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimaging the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors | by Carolyn Finney | Published by The University of North Carolina Press, 2014 |138 pages (173 counting bibliography + index) | ISBN: 9781469614489

Purchase from: Book Depository (affiliate link) or University of North Carolina Press

Author Information

Carolyn Finney, PH.D (black effin’ excellence right thurr), is a writer, performer, and cultural geographer. She’s a professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky and serves on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board. Black Faces, White Spaces is her first book.

Nonfiction November TBR

Guess who’s late to the Nonfiction November party? MEEEEE, as per usual.

If you have not the slightest clue what Nonfiction November is; it’s essentially a nonfiction reading “challenge” hosted by Olive (abookolive) and Jemma (Non Fic Books). Make sure you check out their YouTube channels and follow the Goodreads Group and Twitter page!

All you have to do to participate is read a nonfiction book! It’s seriously that easy. However, if you want to make it a bit of a challenge Olive and Jemma came up with some pretty interesting themes for this year. They are as follows *drumroll*

  • Past time/Pastime
  • Self/Shelf
  • Wander/Wonder
  • Micro/Macro

These are all sorts of open to interpretation and both Olive and Jemma have TBR/Recommendation videos for each of the themes if you’re feeling stuck. (Olive’s TBR | Jemma’s TBR)

This year my Nonfiction November TBR is *futher drumroll*

I. Past time/Pastime

Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge | by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

30753748A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.

At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

Impeccably researched, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.

I’m choosing to focus on the past time half of this section. I’ve always had a slight interest in and curiosity about the founding fathers and slavery (I mean, I still think they were the original “not ALL men” sayers when they come up with the Constitution). I remember reading about the Washingtons’ cook Hercules earlier on this year and Ona was briefly mentioned so this seemed like the perfect book to grab for this challenge because a) it’s a past event & b) it reminded me of something that I read in the past.

II. Self/Shelf

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor & Marina Cantacuzino – art by Sophie Standing

Synopsis via Goodreads

31702463What is forgiveness? What enables people to forgive? Why do we even choose to forgive those who have harmed us? What can the latest psychological research tell us about the nature of forgiveness, its benefits and risks?

This imaginative comic explores the key aspects of forgiveness, asking what it means to forgive and to be forgiven. Witty and intelligent, it answers questions about the health benefits and restorative potential of forgiveness and explains, in easy-to-understand terms, what happens in our brains, bodies and communities when we choose to forgive.

Humans are weird. We are weird, weird creatures with weird emotions and weird chemistry that makes or doesn’t make those weird emotions. Forgiveness is something that I struggle with and I want to know why.  This book seemed like a really easy way to figure that out without hurting my brain – it’s essentially a graphic novel.

III. Wander/Wonder

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney

Synopsis via Goodreads

18640643Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism? In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the “great outdoors” and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces. 

Drawing on a variety of sources from film, literature, and popular culture, and analyzing different historical moments, including the establishment of the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.

If you follow my Instagram, it’s no big secret that I wander around a lot. I’m a nature junkie in the simplest of ways. One of the things that I’m always noticing is that there certainly aren’t a lot of African-American’s out there wandering with me and I’ve wondered about why that is. I have my own speculations, but I want to see what somebody who’s actually taken the time to research and write a book says about the why that is.

IV. Micro/Macro

Hadrian’s Wall by Adrian Goldsworthy

Synopsis via Goodreads

35960093Stretching eighty miles from coast to coast across northern England, Hadrian’s Wall is the largest Roman artifact known today. It is commonly viewed as a defiant barrier, the end of the empire, a place where civilization stopped and barbarism began. In fact, the massive structure remains shrouded in mystery. Was the wall intended to keep out the Picts, who inhabited the North? Or was it merely a symbol of Roman power and wealth? What was life like for soldiers stationed along its expanse? How was the extraordinary structure built–with what technology, skills, and materials?

In Hadrian’s Wall, Adrian Goldsworthy embarks on a historical and archaeological investigation, sifting fact from legend while simultaneously situating the wall in the wider scene of Roman Britain. The result is a concise and enthralling history of a great architectural marvel of the ancient world.

I’ve been slacking on my history reading. In fact, I know almost nothing about the new findings in medieval or ancient history because I’ve been so focused on my damn MLIS degree.  Hadrian’s Wall is a huge thing we honestly don’t know too much about, therefore, I felt like it would fit into this category perfectly.

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And there we have it! Those are my Nonfiction November goals! I’ll also be attempting to vlog all month long so make sure that you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel if you’re interested in seeing how I manage to make time for reading and adventuring along with being a part-time employee and a part-time grad student. My boyfriend might also occasionally make a few appearances.

Let me know what you plan on reading this month and/or if you’re taking part in Nonfiction November!

Smell.

You changed your scent.

Now you smell like cloves.

Spices.

Sharpness.

Unfamiliar scents for someone who’s become unfamiliar to me.

 

You used to smell like beeswax.

Tea tree oil.

Shea butter.

You used to smell like safety, like comfort, like what I imagined the scent of a piece of my heart to be.

 

I wonder if my sense of smell changed

when I fell in love with somebody new.

 

Because now safety and comfort smell like

earth and smoke.

Now I imagine a piece of my heart would smell like sea salt.

 

And I wonder if my scent has changed to you.

 

 

All About My Tattoos

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I got my first tattoo when I was 18-years old on a trip to Seattle with my Mom to visit family. It says “Life” on my right wrist and lowkey covers up a scar from where I stabbed myself in the wrist when I was 14  in a super awkward suicide attempt. It’s a reminder that “life” goes on.

LIFE+VIOLETS.JPEGMy second tattoo was the word “Live” on my left wrist and is the only tattoo that I’veever had any type of regret about.  I got it at a hole-in-the-wall tattoo shop by CCSF while waiting for my ex-boyfriend to get out a club meeting. I wanted the word to face me because I wanted the word “live” to be a reminder to..well…live and the word “life” to face outward since life is what I’ve already done. The artist insisted that it would look stupid since it wouldn’t be symmetrical and would mess with the flow (idk) so he just tatt’d it the way he wanted to. The linework was super patchy when I first got it but I got it touched up by the artist who’s done essentially the rest of my work. I would have gotten it touched up by the original artist but he just had bad energy. It also now serves as a reminder to always be adamant about what I want and to be patient when it comes to finding tattoo artists.

My third tattoo was the forget-me-nots on my right wrist. This was the first tattoo I got from Jen @ Picture Machine Tattoo. She was super sweet and the majority of my tattoos are by her. Reason for the tattoo: Forget-me-nots are my favorite flower and I never want to forget the life I’ve lived.

EVERYBOOK.JPEGFourth, I believe, was the quote “Every book it’s reader” on my right shoulder. It’s done in Gutenburg Gothic script and is one of the Five Laws of Library Science. Obviously, I love books and libraries. The reason why I chose Gutenburg Gothic as the font is because Gutenberg is credited with the creation of the printing press which helped increase literacy in the medieval world. The library quote is because I strongly believe that there is no such thing as a book that nobody should read.

Fifth was the violetsand they serve as a reminder to always live my life with humility, wisdom, and grace. Violets are also the birth flower for February (my birth month).

FORTUNEANDLOVE.JPEGSixth was ribcage. I got the Ovid’s quote “Fortune and love favor the brave” in red ink after I had broken up with my ex. I aim to be brave in chasing my dreams and in putting myself on the line in terms of love and relationships. The reason why I got it in red is because to me red symbolizes strength, rebirth, and purity and I needed that at that junction in my life.

Seventh was a blue rose for my doggie Star. I didn’t want a giant color piece so I asked Jen if she could just create a halo effect for the rose and we tried to match the blue to Star’s eyes based on an old photo. Also, when you’re brown – you get worried about color ROSES.JPEGpayoff when it comes to tattoos. This was like my trial color run on a part of my body that gets a lot more sun and is a lot darker than the inside of my wrists.

Shortly after I got two more roses added. The red one for my Dad (who’s still alive but we should still give flowers to those living) and the purple for my grandma who passed away when I was 8 but was such a hugely influential part of my life.

Gretal was the next piece and she was a two-session process; one for the outline and one DRAGON.JPEGfor shading. My grandma had this beautiful dragon drawing and I’ve always loved it and I always wanted to get a dragon to commemorate her and one day it just clicked that I should get that dragon tattooed. So that’s exactly what I did.

think I ended up getting the banner around the words after Gretal got shaded, but I’m honestly not sure at all. I can’t pinpoint when I got it for the life of me.

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For my 24th birthday and Valentines Day/ Friday the 13th I got my little Grim Reaper. Jen was having a flash sale and I saw Franklin (what I’ve named him) on her Instagram and I snagged that little sucker. He’s adorable and I absolutely love his little scythe with the forget-me-nots.

Next up, my pinky hearts. I got them done at Cold Steel Tattoo on Haight St (usually I’vePINKY.JPEG only gone there for piercings) after deciding that I was officially done LAMPPOT.JPEGwith my relationship with my ex-fiance. Finger tattoos are pretty hit-n-miss so the wonky healing is just a result of hand oils and etc (NOT MY PINKY RING). The reason for the two hearts is to pinky promise to always love myself first and foremost.

After the pinky hearts came my tea-pot genie lamp. Once again, it’s another tattoo done by Jen and she essentially was having a flash tattoo sale and I saw it on her Instagram and instantly just thought – “omgoodness, that is perfect!” The reasoning is that I’d much rather make wishes on daisy petals than have three wishes from a jinn.

Now, time for all my recent tattoos – these have all been done within the last year.

BISON.JPEGI got my bison when I went to L.A. last year. Random tattoo shop, random spur of the moment desire, and it worked out perfectly. I love bison, I grew up by the bison pen in Golden Gate Park, and I think they are the sweetest creatures alive.

DAGGER.JPEGFollowing the bison, I got a dagger on the inside of my left forearm, which is also the first tattoo that I got this year. I got it from Oliver at Temperance Tattoos in the Tenderloin. I’ve had a long-standing promise with myself that when I know that I’m truly ready to commit to being self-harm free I would get a dagger or knife to commemorate that promise to myself and to constantly remind me of that promise. I got it on my left arm because I’m left-handed.

POPPIES.JPEGAfter that I got my poppies done by Jen at Picture Machine. Poppies because I’m a California girl and they are the state flower.

My most recent tattoo is one that I got in Flagstaff, Arizona. I really, really, really wanted to get a tattoo in Arizona because I crossed something huge of my bucket list which was to go to the Grand Canyon. AZDAGGER.JPEGMichael, at Birch Avenue Tattoo hooked me with this awesome dagger coming through a cactus flower and I absolutely love it. It’s still a wee bit in the healing phase just because my skin doesn’t react too well with color but I absolutely love it and think it’s beautiful.

AND, that’s it for my tattoos!

If you have any further questions, just let me know!

 

 

 

 

Book Babble: The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion was a legit cover grab for me. I mean, look at it! It just looks so creepy, but in that “ooooo this is gonna be good” way.

It’s a super short book, 112 pages, and follows a woman named Danielle who’s looking into the sudden suicide of her best friend. Her search takes her to a Utopian squatter town in Iowa named Freedom where a spirit in the form a red-eyed three antlered deer has been summoned to serve as a judge and executioner in the town. However, the deer is beginning to turn on its summoners and it’s up to Danielle and her new friends to figure out how to save the town and themselves.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion was an insanely captivating mixture of fantasy and horror with an amazing element of commentary on police states and anarchism. I enjoyed Killjoy’s writing and found the majority of it to be well-paced and engaging. There were a few parts that I wish had been explored a bit more – such as how the summoning of the deer worked and how “magic” was discovered, but I’m hoping that since this is part of a series the magic system (or systems) will be explored in the next novella.

I would recommend this to people who want to read fantasy with a diverse cast of characters (PoC, queer, and trans), are interested in horror novels, and who are looking for a quick read that covers a lot ground in a realistic way.

If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought about it! And if you haven’t, what are some of your favorite fantasy/horror novellas, books, or writers?

Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book!

Rae

Find “The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion” at a library near you | Purchase from Book Depository (I receive a 5% commission if you do!)

Book Babble: Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone has been all over my life. Patrons have been constantly checking it out, I’ve been constantly processing it for holds, and it’s been all over my YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter feeds since it’s release. At first, I wasn’t going to read it because I have hipster tendencies and tend to avoid reading things that end up being repeatedly shoved in my face and because I usually don’t enjoy YA fantasy novels.

Buuuuuut, I do occasionally feel like I have to read things by black authors, especially black women authors who are writing fantasy. You know, support the people and all that ish. Aaaaaand, the synopsis didn’t sound too bad, aaaaaaand, I’ve heard decently good things about it.

So, did I love it?

Not exactly.

I liked it. I could definitely see a younger me being absolutely in love with this. If this book had came out when I was in elementary or middle school I would have been all over it, but alas, it fell into too many of the YA tropes for me.

The main character, Zélie, is your typical “Chosen One”. She fucks up, gets in trouble, is insanely beautiful along with being a talented fighter, oh, and has a tragic backstory. Zélie, and her older brother, along with a runaway princess named Amari, embark on a quest to bring back magic via some magical artifacts and a celestial event and then aim to bring down the ruthless king (who happens to Amari’s father). To add more to the mix, the ruthless king has tasked Amari’s older brother, Inan to halt their quest, kill Zélie, and destroy the artifacts. Inan has to make some decisions, figure out who he is and who he wants to be, etc. – it’s almost like everyone in this novel was going through two forms of puberty and it was driving me crazy.

However, Adeyemi is a fantastic writer. Which is probably the main reason as to why I managed to finish the book. The story is told through Zélie, Amari, and Inan’s POV and each one is so drastically different that it works out excellently and makes for a very smooth blend. The world-building was on point, the plot was on point, and just the general subtle changes in the characters was on point.  Everything was on point, but as stated previously, it just didn’t appeal to me as an adult reader.

I would definitely recommend this book to fantasy lovers, black kids who thought Harry Potter was semi-wack, and people who just want to read fantasy from the African/African-American perspective.

Have you read Children of Blood and Bone yet? Or are you like me and avoiding it for as long as possible due to all the hype surrounding it? What did you think of it if you did read it? And who are some of your favorite PoC fantasy writers?

Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book!

Rae

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Find “Children of Blood and Bone” at a library near you |Purchase from Book Depository (I receive a 5% commission if you do!)

A Sutro Heights Wander

As semi-promised in my A Foggy Land’s End Wander post I eventually made it over the Sutro District on an overcast, foggy, and windy Monday afternoon. It was lovely. Of course, it’s an absolutely beautiful place when its blue skies and fluffy clouds, but I’m a true San Franciscian and love the grey. It speaks to my soul.

I wandered around Sutro Park for a while and then headed over to the Baths before heading back home.

Hope you enjoy the photos!
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I also found out that Sutro, despite being hailed as quite the philanthropist, had his bathhouse segregated. As much as people always want to think and say that San Francisco has always been an open and free city that has always stood for equal rights and social equality, there’s always been this undercurrent of greed, money, power, and extreme social stratification here. It’s nothing new to today as much as San Franciscans always try to pretend that it is. IMG_9795.jpg

And yes, I am purposely posting this on the 4th, the same day that John Harris was denied entry into Sutro Baths and the same day that we’re supposed to be celebrating freedom and independence in the United States. There’s a whole bunch I could say about how much I despise the 4th of July, how I wish we didn’t celebrate this holiday, and how I wish that this country got its start in another way but alas, that’s a post for an entirely different day. Let me hop off my soapbox and go about my day.

Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Hope you all have a wonderful day, and read a wonderful book!
Rae