From that rooftop, what if you jumped onto the next rooftop, dashed over to that blue and green wall, jumped up and climbed up the pipe, ran across the roof and jumped to the next? You can, in animation. - Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2014)
The Gaang in The Legend of Korra.
While Baldwin’s description of being accosted by the FBI underscores the ways in which he felt violated and sexualized by the (presumably) white male agents, his openness about his own sexuality and his readiness to address the topic openly in his fiction seemed to disarm the FBI, who had no leverage to blackmail a writer who was already openly homosexual. While information about Baldwin’s “homosexual parties” in Istanbul underscores the Bureau’s international monitoring of its targets—and gives credence to William Maxwell’s claim that the FBI became “a pioneering archivist of black internationalism…” the scant information reveals little that wasn’t publicly known about the author.
See also: “homosexual parties” in Istanbul, the FBI mistaking Baldwin’s sister for his wife, mistaking Baldwin for a communist, and Baldwin alleging that J. Edgar Hoover was nothing but a “voyeur.”
[image description: the cover of Lies We Tell Ourselves]
Book review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Lies We Tell Ourselves is a powerful, important story that I can’t recommend enough. Set in 1959, during the desegregation of American schools, it follows Sarah Dunbar, one of the first black students to attend a previously all-white school, through the trials she endures at the hands of her fellow classmates, her conflict between wanting to do her part for the movement and wanting to feel safe, and her budding romantic feelings for Linda Hairston, the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of integration.
Through the eyes of both Sarah and Linda, Talley explores the impact of societal racism, sexism, and homophobia on the individual. Talley’s depiction of the segregationists as otherwise intelligent, well-educated men and women blind to their own ignorance - thinking that their hatred is clever and nuanced and at times even loving - is brilliantly executed and terrifyingly true to real life. The arguments Talley’s characters use to justify their racism might seem absurd to a modern reader, but all are still in use today to defend discriminatory beliefs and actions.
Sarah was a wonderful character - passionate, strong-willed, and caring. Linda’s perspective was much more uncomfortable to read and reminded me of a quote I keep seeing on the internet in regards to current events in America: "One of the most sinister things about normalised racism is you don’t have to have bad intentions to be racist, you just have to remain ignorant.” Through Linda, Talley explores how easily ignorance can misinterpreted as knowledge and cruelty can be mistaken for kindness when discrimination is so normalised that, to the privileged, any opinion that differs from what they’ve been taught their entire lives seems absurd. Talley acknowledges that even with the best of intentions, years of misinformation and indoctrination cannot be undone instantly. Talley doesn’t attempt to ‘fix’ Linda in a few short months; Linda’s views are the result of an entire childhood of indoctrination, and although she eventually manages to break free of her father’s propaganda and begin to think for herself, she still harbours some ignorant and harmful ideas about race as the novel draws to a close.
Unfortunately, while Linda’s prejudice is realistic and thoughtfully written, it does weaken the love story between Sarah and Linda. I loved that Talley chose to leave the reader with an ending that suggests both girls will continue to educate themselves and form their own beliefs, but as the issue of Linda’s racism was never fully resolved, I found their relationship by the end of the novel problematic. That said, Sarah and Linda’s gradually developing feelings for each other were beautifully written, and both girls’ examination of their own internalized homophobia nicely paralleled their discussions of racial discrimination.
Lies We Tell Ourselves is a wonderfully crafted, much needed examination of social discrimination which not only sheds light on a turbulent period of modern history, but also gives focus to issues which continue to be relevant today.
Many thanks to Harlequin UK for providing a copy of Lies We Tell Ourselves in exchange for an honest review. Lies We Tell Ourselves will be released on September 30th in the US and October 3rd in the UK.
Publisher: Harlequin UK/MIRA Ink
Rating: 5 stars | ★★★★★
Review cross-posted to Goodreads