Current Events & Programs
JUNE 2016 Events
Thursday, June 02, / 7:00pm
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
Community Lecture and Book Signing
A close reading of America’s racial chasm.
In the wake of what were often termed the Ferguson riots, Anderson (African American Studies/Emory Univ.; Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960, 2014, etc.) wrote an opinion column for the Washington Post with the headline, “Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress.” Here, she extends her argument, showing how any signs of black rage might be more than justified in the face of decades of white intolerance, indifference, and obstruction. The author provides a perspective dating back to the Civil War, charging that the victory outlawing slavery failed during Reconstruction, which shifted terms without significantly improving the plight of the former slaves. “Indeed, for all the saintedness of his legacy as The Great Emancipator,” she writes, “Lincoln himself had neither the clarity, humanity, nor resolve necessary to fix what was so fundamentally broken. Nor did his successor.” Most of what Anderson traces in this compact study offers more summary than revelation, and while it does testify to the dehumanizing effects of white power and prejudice, the “white rage” of the title seems more like a rebalancing of the scales than a precise description. As she writes in the wake of Ferguson, “framing the discussion, dominating it, in fact, was an overwhelming focus on black rage…which, it seemed to me, entirely missed the point.” Yet the book builds to an emotional climax that justifies its title, as the election of the nation’s first black president brought such intensity to the nation’s fissures: “the vitriol heaped on Obama was simply unprecedented,” and the “hatred started early.” By the epilogue, Anderson’s analysis seems prescient. “Not even a full month after Dylann Roof gunned down nine African Americans,” she writes, “…Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, fired up his ‘silent majority’…with a macabre promise: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take our country back.’ ”
Saturday, June 18, / 10:00am
Ethnic Notions: Black People in White Minds
Film Screening / Community Discussion
Film explores American racial stereotypes in commercial imagery, including toys, household items, postcards, sheet music, and advertisements. More than two hundred items showcased in these pages accurately depict the ways in which the black image was distorted and black people misrepresented in the broader American culture from 1847 to the present day in order to establish and reinforce the existing social discrepancies, justify discrimination, and perpetuate traditional majority/minority relationships in the county. Ethnic Notions is very highly recommended reading for Black Studies, social issues, and American cultural history reading lists and library reference collections.
The film screening is a catalog of images exploring racist memorabilia from the collection of Jan Faulkner. The black and white images using over 200 items provide powerful testimony of how the black image has been distorted over the years.
Saturday, June 25, / 1:00pm
Summer of the Cicadas by Cole Lavalais
Book Signing and Discussion
Summer of the Cicadas is an introspective look into the world of Viola "Vi" Ikewe Moon. A young Viola Moon begins her freshman year at A&M University follwing her stay at a mental health center, hoping to reinvent herself by escaping south to a small black college. Once Vi is uncomfortably situated on campus, the ghost she imagined she could outrun soon becomes her constant companion. Vi is convinced that the only way to put the ghost to rest and regain her sanity is to pursue a man who is just as precariously positioned in his own ancestral angst.
"Summer of the Cicadas is a gorgeous, tough meditation on Black inheritance. Viola Moon is both running from and searching for home, finding legacy to be wound and salve, sustenance and burden, misdirection and intuition. Cole Lavalais brings Viola's journey to us with her gift for language that is at once sharp and soothing, asking from the very first page that we not look away from what hurts, and that we not stop asking what might heal it. "
-- Danielle Evans author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
"Summer of the Cicadas is the gothic tale of Viola Moon, an emotionally fragile young woman struggling to free herself from the textured and twisted hauntings of memory, family, and history. In telling Vi's story, author Cole Lavalais offers keen insight into experiences that are by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. Indeed, Lavalais pushes her narrative into a raw, psychic space that is rarely depicted on the page, a singular achievement in contemporary American letters."
-- Jeffery Renard Allen, author of the novel's Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back