A Book Club for Diversity (ABCD) discussion

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Book Selection Discussion > February Book Choice and Discussion

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message 1: by Karpov (new)

Karpov Kinrade | 33 comments Mod
Okay, the book for February is Negroland: A Memoir It seemed fitting particularly for the US situation at the moment, and a few of you recommended it. Thank you!

I apologize for my delays this/last month. We are in the middle of a move and internet and time have both been in short supply. We should be settled soon. In the meantime I'll add this to our library and let's get going for February!

Also, for those who are in other book clubs and know how these things work, please feel free to recommend ways to improve this experience for everyone. We're new to running a book club and kind of stumbling our way along. Thanks for understanding! <3 ~Lux Karpov-Kinrade

Joan Thanks for starting this group. I'm looking forward to reading Negroland - I've requested it from my library.

message 3: by Jailene (new)

Jailene Jewell (i_am_bad_wolf) | 9 comments Excellent! I agree that it will offer a unique perspective, and will check it out and get started today!

Gina Hermansen | 1 comments We are reading Negroland for our February book this month. I have searched everywhere for some "formal" discussion questions that I can bring to the group. Anyway found any or have some that they are willing to share?

Joan I found some author interviews and reviews which have points that may serve or I created a few softball quesion which might get the conversation going. Mine are at the end of this post.
Dwight Garner in the New York Times points out that the following is a recurring themes in the book:
"I think it’s too easy to recount your unhappy memories when you write about yourself,” Ms. Jefferson comments. “You bask in your own innocence. You revere your grief. You arrange your angers at their most becoming angles.”

The author was taught that “you don’t tell your secrets to strangers — certainly not secrets that expose error, weakness, failure.” In her family, and in black families like hers, the strictly observed motto was “Achievement. Invulnerability. Comportment.”

One of the best things about this memoir is Ms. Jefferson’s comments on popular culture, especially the rare black performers (Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll) who appeared on television in its early days. Black families gathered in their dens and watched, she writes, “waiting to be entertained and hoping not to be denigrated.”

To slip up — to become pregnant and drop out of college, for example — was a disgrace that rang down the ages. About one girl who had done this, Ms. Jefferson observes: “She had committed matricide: She had destroyed the good reputation her mother, her grandmothers and her grandmothers’ grandmothers had fought for since slavery.”

My proposed questions from above: (I'm no writer! Feel free to edit.)
1. How does a memoir differ from a biography?
2. How do cultures differ in attitudes about showing vulnerability and weakness?
3. The author and her family feared being denigrated by the actions of black entertainers. Are entertainers responsible for society's views about people and groups?
5. Is it reasonable to hold families accountable for the actions of individual members?

Or these adapted from Columbia News
6. Can you comment on the title, the use of the word “Negro” and words and phrases such as Black or African- American or people of color.

7. Do you think that members of the current generation have it easier than people of color in 1950s Chicago or do they face the same sort of pressures she did?

Or we could just have a discussion about particular incidents in the book and let the observations of members drive the conversation.
8. Was her Mom's response to the questions about race and wealth satisfactory?
9. Why did Margot and her Mom feel differently about the question of Native American ancestry. Was either one more reasonable?
10. Do you think a member of another ethnic group would feel differently about that question?
11. How would you have responded to the behavior of the laundry guy?
13. What other possible explanations can there be for the teacher asking Margot to befriend the new student?

Joan Chapter 14 mentions Langston Hughes' poem. Mother to Son
I enjoyed this reading by an elementary school student.

message 7: by Karpov (new)

Karpov Kinrade | 33 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Chapter 14 mentions Langston Hughes' poem. Mother to Son
I enjoyed this reading by an elementary school student."

Oh that's awesome! Thank you for sharing. <3

message 8: by Karpov (new)

Karpov Kinrade | 33 comments Mod
Thank you all for helping shape this group and discussion. We appreciate it <3

Joan Did you enjoy this book as much as I did?
I gave it 4 stars and my review is here.

message 10: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments I tried reading this one but I just could not get into it... although I love reading true stories or watching them on t.v. or DVD.
I do have Alex Haley's and David Stevens Mama Flora's Family of which is in the Roots story line. I have not read it but I loaned it to my daughter's history teacher when she was in middle school and she enjoyed reading it... They were studying about black history

message 11: by Denise (new)

Denise | 21 comments Has a book for March been chosen yet?

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