What is?

What is a man when he’s black?

Constantly accused and under attack

With all his efforts he encounters setbacks

Pushed into drugs and selling crack

Communities broken and on a backtrack.

What is a woman when she’s black?

Gives her all, just to fallback

Disrespect and abuse is our throwback

Yet we give and give and are never paid back

When will our burdens finally be unpacked?

Thank you for reading.

Book Review – Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age is a novel with a blurb that excited me, it’s a novel about a young black woman who is accused of kidnapping a white child whilst babysitting. Mira, at first glance seemed like a woman that I could relate to, with a similar age and a love for children in common (add in what I perceive to be a sarcastic book title), I was sold. However, at the end of the novel, I found myself quite dissatisfied, as this was one of the few novels that I‘ve read that did not inspire me.

The opening chapters of the novel were stirring, starting with a birthday party and then the racist confrontation. The novel seems to change it’s tone as the perspective of the novel was no longer Mira’s interactions with race but the obsession and fetishization of white people towards her.  The novel touches on key issues of shallow white ‘wokeness’ that leads to problematic and controlling behaviour (e.g. manipulation, invasion of privacy). However, the writer allows these characters to ‘get away’ with their behaviour and leaves no satisfactory ending for neither Mira or any other character. I felt that there was more space and scope for the writer to involve characters in discussions of race or to have a greater introspective of racial experiences from the non-white characters of the novel. Because of the lack of depth into character’s psyche, the novel resulted in multiple superficial and one-dimensional characters with zero emotional intelligence.

In regards to the protagonist of the novel, Mira, there was opportunity for further growth and self-development throughout the novel. She had very little say in the direction of her life, as the writer allowed her to remain passive throughout. Most of Mira’s growth and self realisation could have been achieved through her own actions instead of through the manipulation of others.

Overall, I felt that this novel was deeply disappointing. It had the potential to really divulge into important topics and issues and open up a space for much needed conversations. However, the novel was riddled with stereotypes, with no originality in how the story was told. Therefore, I give this novel a 2 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for reading.

Life by Charlotte Bronte

Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!
What though Death at times steps in,
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet Hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!

Thank you for reading.

Semester 2 Update

Semester 2 of my PhD officially ended at the end of March. But as most PhD students will tell you, that does not mean a break from my research. I still have a thousand and one things to do, and an impending deadline this Friday. However, I have to say, I am still very much enjoying my research and even the hard and stressful moments still bring some joy to my life.

The highlights for semester 2 were:

  • I wrote and submitted 4,500 out of 80,000 words for my thesis. 4,500 is not a lot of words when compared to 80,000, however, I am still very proud of my accomplishment and the feedback that I received.
  • I was able to present at Book Group a book that inspired my research. This led to an hour of questions about my research and some very insightful discussions.
  • I revamped my social media to reflect my new life in academia. It was actually really fun to transform my LinkedIn page and to create a new twitter account as well as a ResearchGate account. Academic twitter is a world of its own.

Things I’m looking forward to in semester 3:

  • Doing some more writing and finishing chapter one of my thesis. This will mean 11,000 out of 80,000 completed.
  • Actually setting foot on campus, at least once, this academic year. As much as I love my room, I do miss other people and actually seeing their faces without a computer screen.
  • Finishing year 1 of my PhD with as much (if not more) enthusiasm and motivation as when I started.

Thank you for reading.

Book Review: Song of Solomon

I have been meaning to read Toni Morrison for a number of years now, and I was excited to finally buy her book in February. One of the key reasons why I was so excited to read Toni Morrison was because she was the author that made Michelle Obama fall in love with reading. This was the author that Barack Obama introduced her to when they first started dating, as Morrison was one of Barack’s favourite writers.

Song of Solomon is a novel about an African American family and how they navigate through their past. The events of the novel take place between the 1930s and 1970s as it follows the Dead family and the protagonist Macon Dead, also known as Milkman.

My first thoughts of the novel was that it was longer than I expected, but by the end of the novel, I thought that it wasn’t long enough for me to feel satisfied with the ending.

The title of the novel definitely attracted me to this book. Of all the Toni Morrison novels, I chose this one because it reminded me of the book in the Bible, Song of Songs which is also known as Song of Solomon.  From this title, I expected the themes of the biblical book to feature in the novel, however, the book had very little to do with love or romance. Although singing and Solomon do play a key part in the novel, I was over halfway through the novel, if not 60% of the novel, before any mention of Solomon and its connection to singing was ever made known.

The characters of the novel are not two dimensional and therefore harder for them to be likeable. They all have a history and their own motivations for doing things. Although we do not get a glimpse into all the characters psyche, such as Lena (which I would have loved to know more about), Morrison is constantly introducing us to a different and unexpected aspects of her characters. I particularly enjoyed how Morrison writes and develops her female characters, even in the face of oppression, they still thrive at the life they’ve built for themselves.

When starting this novel, there was no doubt in my mind that it would be a brilliant piece of literature, not only because she came highly recommended by the Obamas but because she won the Nobel Prize for Literature (amongst numerous other awards), which to me is as good as it gets for a writer. I am excited to add more of Morrison’s novels to my reading list and this is a novel that I would recommend. Overall, I give this novel a 4.3 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for reading.