Black History Month Reading

Surfing the news channels, I stopped by CNN and Anderson Cooper 360°. Trump’s gang had just published a list of terror strikes that were supposedly un or under reported, and Cooper and his pundits were asking themselves why and how this administration gets away with its shenanigans.

At the same time, I was browsing an old favorite, Invisible Man. Ralph Ellison’s narrator reports his grandfather’s final words. Calling himself a traitor, the old man tells his son to “overcome ‘em with yeses, undermine ‘em with grins, agree ‘em to death and destruction, let ‘em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.”

I glanced back to Cooper 360°, where I couldn’t ignore the parallels between the book’s themes and our current political quagmire.

Except for the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary (two (female) republicans stepped across the line), the Republican controlled congress has voted unanimously for Trump’s cabinet. Will our elected leaders “yes” our megalomaniac president to “death and destruction”? If so, how bad will it spill onto the rest of us?

I was disgusted and embarrassed for all of us as I read the stinging description of the Battle Royal. But the final four paragraphs of the chapter–the narrator recounting his dream about being at the circus with his grandfather–punched me in the gut. He opens a series of envelopes, the last one containing this message: “To Whom It May Concern,…Keep This Nigger-Boy Running.”

When Trump Tweets, he’s keeping us running. When he nominates people who are hostile to the institutions they will be leading, he’s keeping us running. When he presents “alternative facts,” he’s keeping us running. When he issues travel bans to immigrants, we’re running. Most importantly, when he colludes with foreign governments, he’s keeping us running.

Invisible Man was first published in 1952. We’re still running.

If you haven’t read or reread this amazing book, you won’t be disappointed. Pick it up to pay tribute to our history during Black History Month. Reading it feels like resistance.


Author: Anita Leverich

In real life, I teach English at an urban community college in Kansas City. This semester I am living the Dream--Writing! This is all thanks to that savior of the academic--The Sabbatical. One part of my sabbatical mission is this blog where I intend to share my thoughts on, not only writing, but also the world. This beautiful life has been built on education--a BA in English Literature, an MA in Literature & Creative Writing from Kansas State U. and an MA in Creative Writing from the nationally rated program at The University of Montana. I’ve also earned a Certificate in Creative Nonfiction from the Stanford Online Writer’s Program. Not only have I been privileged to work with generous and thoughtful teachers, but I’ve also worked with Editor Barbara Jones in the One Book program at Queens University. The other part of my time between now and August is dedicated to finishing the manuscript I have been working on all these years (!) called Running After You: An Unrequited Love Story. Thanks for tuning in. Enjoy.

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