Book Review: Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change by Angela Garbes
by Jennifer Astion
(This article was originally published on Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
In Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, Angela Garbes examines why “American life is not working for families.” Child rearing, Garbes writes, is “a social responsibility, one that requires robust community support. The pandemic revealed that mothering is the only truly essential work humans do. Without people to care for our children, we are lost.” Essential Labor makes a compelling argument for valuing mothering through both personal stories and social critique.
Continue reading ‘Normal Is Unacceptable’: Seattle Author Angela Garbes on Parenting Through the Pandemic
by Amanda Ong
Simon Javan Okelo has worked for years to promote African culture and youth arts programming through his nonprofit organization, One Vibe Africa. Now that work is commemorated in a book.
Continue reading Simon Javan Okelo’s ‘Rooted in Love’ Brings Together a Lifelong Vision
by Rae Rose
Christopher the Ogre Cologre, It’s Over!, by Dr. Oriel María Siu with illustrations by Víctor Zúñiga, is a children’s book written to challenge historical misconceptions resulting from the way history is currently taught: with bias, from a colonizer’s point of view. By contrast, Dr. Siu’s new book speaks from the heart of Indigenous endurance, highlighting the strength of spirit we pass with love from one generation to the next.
Continue reading New Children’s Book Speaks Truth Through an Indigenous Lens
by Patheresa Wells
If you close your eyes and imagine what joy sounds like, what might you hear? The laughter of a loved one? The crescendo of your favorite piece of music? When I tried to recall the sounds of joy, so many other senses flooded in — they kept trying to drown out the sounds. This made me realize that sound can often be an overpowering experience, making silence a relief. But if we do not explore sound — do not imagine its possibilities or examine how it can shape us — then, we may find ourselves blocked. We may discover that silence becomes a barrier because the ability to make noise is a privilege.
Continue reading ‘Joy Has a Sound: Black Sonic Visions’ — a Book Review of Wa Na Wari’s New Anthology
by Neve Mazique-Bianco
From the first page of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, the debut short story collection from Seattle-based writer Kim Fu, the author has my attention. Although “Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867” is nowhere near my favorite story in the collection, it’s an appropriate opener, the unassigned dialogue floating in space and yet coming in as clearly and intimately as if one was listening in on their own phone. The story also establishes what world we are living in and what’s essential in this world. The answer: We are everywhere, and everything is vital.
Continue reading Debut Collection Reveals Seattle Writer to Be Emerging Talent in Speculative Fiction
by Zoe Ramos
The memoir Heart Radical: A Search for Language, Love, and Belonging by Anne Liu Kellor, a Seattle-based writer and teacher, is praised by Cheryl Strayed as “insightful, riveting, and beautifully written,” and it lives up to every bit of those words. Heart Radical is a well-rounded and truly transcendent book, with relatable sentiments and experiences for readers from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Heart Radical, Kellor’s first book, begins with young Anne as a newly independent, mixed-race Chinese American college graduate. She embarks on a journey to China with the hopes of securing a job as an English teacher in Chengdu. Not only is she far from her home and the people she knows best, but she also experiences an identity crisis while learning to balance her heritage from a new perspective. She goes from being a Chinese outsider in America to an American outsider in China within the span of a few days. Multiracial and multilingual readers will appreciate the extent to which Anne exhibits the base struggles that come with being the literal embodiment of unity between two cultures, but never being allowed to truly be a part of either as a result. She feels both too Chinese to be American and too American to be Chinese.
Continue reading Anne Liu Kellor’s ‘Heart Radical’ is an Ode to Heritage and Belonging
by Megan Wildhood
(This article originally appeared in Real Change News and has been reprinted with permission.)
Amazon owes the U.S. government $1.5 billion in taxes. Instead of paying that bill, it got a $129-million tax rebate in 2018 and continues to bully the cities that house its ever-growing number of warehouses for tax breaks, secret deals, and immunity from regulations that protect residents (such as the more than 50,000 Seattleites who work for it). A large percentage of its revenue, which totaled $11.5 billion in 2018, comes from government contracts. It skirts safety and seems to think humans are robots who exist to do nothing but gobble up more and more jobs, which of course pay so little that those “robots” (the majority of whom are contractors, not employees) qualify for food stamps. Workers sustain major injuries and even die violently on the job — but many of them “don’t blame the company.”
After reading Alec MacGillis’ Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, I wondered what it would take for people to start blaming the company. While there is mounting dislike of Amazon in what MacGillis calls Seattle 3.0 (after first discussing the original two iterations of the city), efforts to curb, regulate, or at least mitigate the damage done by Amazon have been insufficient.
Continue reading Book Review: ‘Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America’
by May Huang
(This article was previously published by Real Change and has been reprinted with permission.)
On the cover of Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings, aptly subtitled “An Asian American Reckoning,” flames dance around the uppercase title of the book. An arresting design, the cover art suggests danger, drama, and daring — three elements that are unapologetically present in this essential interrogation on race and writing.
Minor Feelings is a collection of seven essays that explore a question of rising importance: What place do Asian Americans occupy in America? On the one hand, Asians are often called the model minority, considered “next in line to be white.” Asians as a whole are more economically privileged than other minority groups in the U.S. and are often high-achieving students and employees. But events in recent history, from the 1992 LA riots that took place in K-town to the 2017 incident where the Vietnamese doctor David Dao was forcibly dragged off a United Airlines flight, suggest that Asians are more likely in line to “disappear” — to assimilate to or be swallowed up by the very system of capitalism that exploits them. Asian Americans, who have even been told that they don’t “count” as minorities anymore, are still often made to feel inadequate — if not by others, then by themselves.
“Not enough has been said about the self-hating Asian,” writes Hong. This self-hatred, which foments when Asians see themselves through the lens of white people, is among the “minor feelings” discussed in the book, along with emotions such as ingratitude, hostility, and jealousy. The term describes the “cognitive dissonance” that Asian Americans feel when they are gaslighted by American optimism, as well as the negative emotions they are “accused of having” when they confront their racialized reality. Reading the book, I felt seen; I wouldn’t be surprised if many AAPI readers realized that “minor feelings” is a term we have been hoping to come across for a long time.
Continue reading ‘Minor Feelings’ Reckons With Asian American Consciousness in a Major Way
by Sarah Neilson
The epigraph of Reagan Jackson’s new book, Still Here: A South End Mixtape From an Unexpected Journalist, comes from the great Audre Lorde: “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” It’s an auspicious opening to an impressive collection of some of Jackson’s most important journalism over the past 10 years; writing for which she has won multiple awards and distinctions, including the 2016 Seattle Globalist Globie Award Journalist of the Year and a 2020 Distinguished Visiting Writer at Seattle University. It’s an ethos that the writing consistently embodies.
Continue reading ‘Still Here: A South End Mixtape From an Unexpected Journalist’ Hits All Its Notes
by Bri Little
There is no shortage of books about racism, and since the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, anti-racist books have been pushed to the forefront as essential reading. I have read a number of books about racism to interrogate my own internalized anti-Blackness, but most of them, paradoxically, center whiteness because the author usually writes for the benefit and education of white readers. Texts as teaching tools do have their place, but anti-racist books aiming to help Black people cope with their experiences of racial violence are few and far between.
In Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar’s 2021 release, You’ll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey, the sisters use a fresh, intentional approach to recount the constant barrage of macro- and microaggressions Black women endure and often internalize. With pitch-perfect humor, heart, and a take-no-prisoners attitude, Ruffin, a comedian, and her sister, Lamar, whom most of the stories are about, offer kinship in sharing their experiences, and freedom, in the ways we can respond to this violence.
Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey