It is bittersweet that even in tragedy, beauty blooms.
During the global COVID pandemic, Black Lives Matter exploded into the mainstream. Yes, it took too damn long for white people to see, to acknowledge, to listen. To amplify. But it is happening now. I hope it continues.
We—all of us— need to hear Black voices.
And Indigenous voices. Women’s voices. LGBTQ voices. Disabled voices.
The voices that have too long been ignored. And suppressed. We at Atlantic Books Today, being all about Atlantic books and authors, decided to theme this issue around the way books can inform change. Do the authors of these books write with a change-the-world mandate in mind? My guess is, usually no. But as the eminent Africadian poet and playwright George Elliott Clarke said in our recent online video series, “If you’re a writer, you’re an intellectual!”
The act of sitting, contemplating, then polishing thoughts, emotions and story arcs into words on a page, that is laying bare your philosophy of living. And so, in books we find the deepest, most carefully conceived ideas of what it means to survive and to live well. The ways our human societies get it so wrong, and occasional inspired examples of people doing it right.
It’s all right there, in every season of new books. So read. And think. Read and think about the words of diverse authors, particularly those writing about Black Matters, as Afua Cooper does in her new collection.
Read broadly, diversely, and your mind will broaden. Your understanding of the world, of what different people and communities endure, and celebrate and achieve, will deepen.
And from that understanding, we build back better.