Live Read

Welcome to the 4th Literary Marie's Live Read❣️ Most are familiar with my live tweeting of television and music. This is the space where I "live read" my reactions while reading. Bookmark and revisit this page to see my live updates and final book review of A Promised Land by President Barack Obama. 

I pre-ordered this $45, 750+ page hardcover soon as it was announced. I set a countdown on my iPhone and noted the publication date in my coiled life planner. I even ordered a new bookmark (see pic below). I tracked the shipping and made sure I was home to accept the package. Highly anticipated is an understatement!

I expect a lot from this deeply personal account of history in the making: personal details, political education, landmark moments, democracy from inside the Oval Office, family life, everything and everyone that contributed to his being elected 44th president of this here United States. 

Let me begin with a full disclosure: I have not read The Audacity of Hope or Dreams from My Father. I knew this post-presidency memoir would come and wanted anything read in A Promised Land to be new to me. I know my journey in ensuring the right to say, "My President is Black." It's time to read his! So let me take a couple pics for #bookstagram then start reading the first volume of Barack Obama's presidential memoirs! 

Title: A Promised Land
Author: Barack Obama
Published: November 2020
Pages: 751
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: TBD

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Welcome to the 3rd Literary Marie's Live Read❣️ By now you are familiar with my live tweeting of television and music. This is the space where I "live read" my reactions while reading. Bookmark and revisit this page to see my live updates and final book review of White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. 

In the state of today's systemic racism, I put fiction aside to read a self-help book about the phenomenon of white fragility. Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo uses her insider status to challenge racism.

Whether you shy away from the discussion or choose to remain silent, this behavior protects racial inequality. It is beyond time to address publicly and engage constructively. This vital must-read should lead us to recommend to non-colored peers, recognize our own racial responses, identify white fragility in action and prompt us all to ask, "Where do we go from here?" 

07.10.2020 Foreword by Michael Eric Dyson titled, "Keyser Söze, Beyoncé, and the Witness Protection Program." He begins with a powerful statement: "Race is a condition. A disease. A card. A plague. Original sin." Why is it a burden for only black people to carry? Why should whiteness hide in visible invisibility? The same whiteness that is given a leg up in life. In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo is calling out white people to see their whiteness for what it really is and to use their privilege to make things better now. I am here for it!

07.11.2020 "Race will influence whether we will survive our birth, where we are most likely to live, which schools we will attend, who our friends and partners will be, what careers we will have, how much money we will earn, how healthy we will be, and even how long we can expect to live."

One thing I consider when reading self-help, is what gives the author credibility. Who is Robin DiAngelo and what is her expertise? Well, her job is to lead primarily white audiences in discussions of race, similar to a diversity trainer. Her participants range from nice understanding people to those who believe racism ended in 1865 with the end of slavery. DiAngelo is certainly qualified to write this book.

Author's Note focuses on identity politics: the focus on barriers specific groups face in their struggle for equality. Now here is something that burns my biscuit around this time of the year (4th of July or National BBQ Day). This country was built by slaves on land stolen from Native Americans. So where is the black representation in the country we built? Why are we the lowest social class? Where is our generational wealth? You won't ever catch me celebrating July 4th by waving the American flag. The real day to acknowledge freedom is Juneteenth.

Black women couldn't even vote until 1964, which is 44 years after women's suffrage movement. As Malcolm X once pointed out, why are black women the most disrespected people in America? And still today, politics and seats at the table are occupied by older white men. The author gives a perfect example: If women are denied the right to vote, you certainly cannot vote for your right to vote. Women must call on men (the controlling group) for justice. I'm going to sit with these thoughts and how it relates to racial equality before I continue reading.

07.15.2020 Every sentence is loaded! I suggest inviting someone to read White Fragility with you or join an online book discussion. Partner with someone whose opinion you respect. I am buddy reading with Chickadee for meaningful conversation while we both take our time reading along.

07.31.2020 "The differences we see with our eyes—differences such as hair texture and eye color—are superficial and emerged as adaptations to geography. Under the skin, there is no true biological race." If more people realized this breakdown, there would be less prejudice. The system of racism and discrimination based on race may not even exist. We all bleed the same color.

I like how the author defines the differences between prejudice and discrimination. We all have prejudice. Now before you balk, read this: "Prejudice is pre-judgment about another person based on the social groups to which that person belongs. Prejudice consists of thoughts and feelings, including stereotypes, attitudes, and generalizations that are based on little or no experience and then are projected onto everyone from that group." You cannot deny that we all have prejudice.

Discrimination, on the other hand is, "action based on prejudice. These actions include ignoring, exclusion, threats, ridicule, slander, and violence." This is where acts of racial violence come into play. It can also be hard to detect, though over recent years it is more recognizable. It is also important to note that people of color can also hold prejudices and discrimination against white people, but we don't have the institutional power to turn it into racism. 

As a minority, we don't make the laws and social order. We do not hold the sense of entitlement. We are not in a position to make policies that will elevate our race above whites. Where is our privilege? Hence, I mentally slap every person that argues the concept of reverse racism and questions why there is no White History Month. 

08.03.2020 White supremacy. Oh, Robin DiAngelo is taking it there! And she has the receipts to prove it. I will fact-check these telling numbers.

In Chapter 3, the author reminds me of a statement that grinds my nerves: "I don't see color." Let me take a deep sigh. For those that do not see color, get your eyes checked because you clearly have vision problems. You are color-blind and need to be corrected, either by means of surgery or an attitude reality check. That statement does not make you anti-racist. It makes you look dumb. I am also sick of the claim that black people make everything about race. "Everything isn't always black or white." Yes, the fuck it is!

DiAngelo brings up racially conscious behavior, such as not going to a particular place, acting overly nice, mimicking black mannerisms or using code words to talk negatively about people of color. How many of my white friends, neighbors or colleagues are guilty of this?

"The most profound message of racial segregation may be that the absence of people of color from our lives is no real loss." Do whites acknowledge the value that people of color add to their lives? I am not convinced this is taught. For if it was, our white peers would protect us. Stand up for us. Support us more. Believe us. Deem us equal. Call out problematic behavior. Automatically know our lives matter without it having to become a movement. And realize that the call to MAGA is pure racial manipulation.

08.16.2020 "White solidarity is the unspoken agreement among whites to protect white advantage and not cause another white person to feel racial discomfort by confronting them when they say or do something racially problematic." Some may cringe but majority will stay silent and not challenge the racist offensive act. Prime example is when I was told to make a professional appearance simply to show diversity. I'mma need white solidarity to cease, especially in the workplace.

Perhaps white fragility exists because white people do not carry the weight of race. I consider being black every damn day that I wake up, make a decision on how I dress, time my commute whether to be early, on time or late, my driving speed, even my greeting upon reaching destination because God forbid I not smile. It is exhausting AF to consider all of these variables daily. Yet, I have to. 
  • Am I holding up to stereotypes? 
  • Am I positively representing the black race? 
  • Do I appear intimidating or a threat? 
  • Am I addressed with respect regardless of my physical appearance? 
  • Am I a product of affirmative action or here to meet a quota? 
  • Do I have to work twice as hard today to be respected? 
  • What anti-black sentiments will I experience today? 
  • Will I be in the company of a white person I can trust?
  • Am I seen as a unique individual or just another black girl? 
  • Will police pull me over for DWB (driving while black)?
  • Can I be in a position of leadership without being seen as a challenge to white authority? 
  • Will my disagreement or raising a question appear as an attack by an angry black woman?
  • Would a George Zimmerman stand his ground against me? Would white men hunt me like Ahmaud Arbery? Is it safe to wear a hoodie like Trayvon Martin wore? 

#SayTheirNames and know it could be me or mines. About 11 years ago, I drove through a yellow traffic light. The police station was directly across the street and a patrol car was parked facing me. Within seconds, I was pulled over by the police. I did not panic but was more-so annoyed at the delay it would cause in my getting home to my comfy bed and much-needed nap after a long day of banker's hours. Besides, driving through a yellow light is not illegal and several of the police officers at this suburban precinct were my clients. Perhaps they just had a quick question for me that couldn't wait until 9 a.m. the following day.

The officer took forever to approach my car. No doubt he was already running my plates and driving record. By the time he reached my window, I had a full on attitude. I did not recognize him and asked if he was a rookie. That was probably strike one to his ego. He already had the ticket written. I went on a rant how he pulled me over unnecessarily, didn't give me the courtesy of asking why I thought I was stopped but instead wrote me a ticket immediately. I also diagnosed him with Napoleon complex somewhere in there. Strike 2. 

He finally asked for my license, registration and proof of insurance to complete filling out the ticket. He also asked if a weapon was in the car. Without thinking, I abruptly moved to open the glove compartment and he drew his gun, asking me to put hands up and slowly step out the vehicle. I rhetorically asked, "I can't open the door and get out of the car with my hands up, now can I?" The situation turned further left when he called for backup and my smart ass asked why he was scared of "lil 'ole me." Since the station was right across the street, four more cops arrived within seconds. Now there were five white officers with guns drawn pointed at me. 

Good thing the Chief of Police was a very good client of mine. I dropped his name, he arrived on the scene, apologized for the officer's behavior and sent me on my merry way. I never saw that rookie again. I'm fully aware if this situation occurred today—in such times of racial tension with Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor and Detroit's own Priscilla Slater—I would not be alive to write this. That thought weighs heavily on my spirit.

DiAngelo points out that white fragility is more than defensiveness or whining; it is a form of bullying. Throughout the book, she has successfully identified assumptions, patterns and solutions for behavior in today's culture. Racism is still here in 2020 even though some claim to not see it. Don't silence the discussion. Listen, process and engage. This live read and final book review is my first step in navigating white fragility.

Title: White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
Author: Robin DiAngelo
Published: June 2018
Edition: eBook
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

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Welcome to the 2nd Literary Marie's Live Read! If you follow me on Twitter, you are familiar with my live tweeting of television and music. This is the space where I "live read" my reactions while reading. Bookmark and revisit this page to see my live updates and final book-to-movie adaptation review of The Spook Who Sat by the Door, a black literature classic written by Sam Greenlee in 1969.

This 50-year-old novel focuses on civil rights and black militancy. A politician needs supporters in the black community so he instigates the CIA to hire black high-ranking officers. Dan Freeman is enlisted in the elite espionage program and becomes the first black CIA agent.

After mastering agency tactics, Dan Freeman retires. On paper, he works with the youth in Chicago. In actuality, he's training black youth to be Freedom Fighters. His goal is to ensure black people's rights and equality for all. If that means overthrowing the white government, so be it. No one suspects the spook who sat by the door.

Admittedly, I have glossed over this book for years. I had no interest until Nipsey Hussle's reference on Victory Lap album and interviews. And to discover there is a movie adaptation too! In the spirit of 🏁THE MARATHON CONTINUES, please join me beginning Thursday, August 8.

08.08.2019 I am in the habit of reading for 30 minutes before bed. And so my live read begins!

08.18.2019 So I probably shouldn't have picked such a heavy book in the midst of vacays. EEK!

09.02.2019 What better way to spend Labor Day than to read about the first black CIA agent?

"You know they call CIA agents spooks?"  Nope, I had no idea. So that's where the title comes from! And it makes sense. Dan Freeman has a way of fading into the background and blending in. He became what others wanted him to be for the sake of his agenda. Nice chess move!

"A showpiece spade is a showpiece spade, no matter how many times he gets his picture in the papers or how much bread he makes." and "They'll use me, but they'll never like me." Whew—message times two! I have certainly felt this way in Corporate America. No matter the size of my salary or how often I am publicly praised, I will still be "you know...the black girl. Her!" This book makes it painfully clear that society has not improved its thinking when it comes to race identity and equality.

"He was considered an example of Negro progress." As if the majority of Negroes are not expected to succeed. Dan Freeman proved wrong though! He soaked up knowledge and took it back to his community. Maybe this is one of the many reasons Nipsey Hussle references this book.

09.07.2019 It has been five days since I finished reading The Spook Who Sat by the Door. The overall tones and message remain in my mind but the ending escapes me. I actually had to un-archive the eBook and re-read the last chapter twice. It is a carefree Saturday so I decided to watch the movie adaptation (found on YouTube). The quality is shit but thankfully the dialogue and pacing follows the book to a T! I was certain the visual would remind me of the ending. But you know what...minutes after the credits rolled, I sat staring at the screen confused. The ending is incomplete. Like the film tape just ran out. Like the plug fell out the outlet and the TV powered off. Like it went on commercial break and never came back on. There has to be a sequel, right?

Title: The Spook Who Sat by the Door
Author: Sam Greenlee
Director: Ivan Dixon
Cast: Lawrence Cook (Dan Freeman); Janet League (Joy); Paula Kelly (Dahomey Queen)
Book Published: March 1969
Movie Release: September 1973
Book Pages: 257
Movie Time: 1 Hour, 42 Min
Genre: Action/Crime Drama
Edition: eBook
Book Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 
Movie Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 

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Happy Pub Day, Michelle Obama!

Hi, bookhearts! If you follow me on Twitter, you are familiar with my live tweeting of television and award shows. I sometimes live tweet my reactions while listening to new music too. So I figured, why not do the same thing for books?

I am going to "live read" Becoming, a memoir by Michelle Obama. She needs no introduction but deserves all the recognition: Former First Lady of the United States, mother of two down-to-earth daughters, wife to the first black President of the United States, one of the most iconic women of our era, initiator of a more active and healthy nation, advocate of women and girls worldwide and proud South Side Chicagoan. And she can dance too! Becoming is Michelle Obama's revelatory story in her own words, on her own terms.

I am settled in with the new hardcover edition, a cup of hot Lady Grey tea sweetened with raw honey and a touch of creamer, Walkers shortbread cookies and snug in my faux fur throw with the fireplace lit. I am in my reader's element excited to begin. I encourage buddy reading so here's the Reading Guide for book clubs and others reading along. Bookhearts, revisit this page to see my live updates and final book review.

11.14.2018 I have the hardcover and the eBook so I can read on-demand.

11.16.2018 First Lines Friday: "When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple." It is only the Preface and already I relate to Michelle Obama. As kids, we have simple thoughts as to what our future should be. Think about it—not once has a child said they look forward to paying bills, working overtime, dating or infertility. Common answers are doctor, lawyer, mother or sports player. So it really is one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up?

11.18.2018 Clearly I am taking my time reading this one. Absorbing every word because there are lessons to be learned within her reflections. For example, Chapter 1 is a story of her first piano recital. She was used to practicing on an old piano. So when seated in front of a sparkling baby grand piano, she was hesitant. Where to place her fingers? Where is the middle C key? There will be a time in our lives when we are taken out of comfort zone. Take a breath. Focus. And excel.

11.20.2018 "It takes energy to be the only black person..." I work in an industry dominated by older white men. Sixteen years in this career and I am sadly used to being the only meatball in the rice. As I move deeper into the industry and expand my professional circle, I am the only poppy seed in a bowl of salt. A young black chick is the last person expected in the room. So when Michelle Obama broke down how it takes energy to be the only black person...whew! I felt that. This is turning into a blogmoir post, let me get back to the book.

11.21.2018 "I'm not raising babies. I'm raising adults." It seems Mama & Daddy Robinson had the same parenting method as my parents.

11.22.2018 Since I am not behind the wheel, I am back-seat reading while en route to spend Thanksgiving with family. Ah, it is the little things in life that I am thankful for.

11.23.2018 The BECOMING ME section was very informative. Well-paced and set the stage for rest of the book. As I begin reading the second section, BECOMING US, a thought hits me. I could be missing out on "my" Barack! When Michelle met him, he didn't have a car, smoked cigarettes, was not fully settled in profession, and other things that are on my dealbreaker list. I need to ditch my box-checker mentality. I could be blind to a whole husband! Let this be the reason I open my eyes and "let my insanely high standards slip."

 "He'd get dinged up and stay shiny, like an old copper pot." Now that's #goals! I am halfway through the book where Barack Obama was chosen to speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. That 17-minute speech was a pivotal moment, with Michelle by his side. I am forced to reflect myself. Where did my own story take a turn? Have I even reached that moment yet? Or am I too stuck in expectations and following the path of a To Do list? For sure this memoir is teaching me to ditch unhappiness in any situation that is not fulfilling. Throw my hands up and let the roller coaster do its thing. Reach continuously toward a better me. (I am aware this live reading is turning into a long ass journal entry or blogmoir post. You will deal!)

11.25.2018 The storytelling is truly mesmerizing. A working-class black girl from the South Side of Chicago became the best First Lady of the United States. Read that sentence again; I'll wait.

11.29.2018 "I'm an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey." And oh, what a journey it has been. Reading Michelle Obama's memoir is a must. It is not an option. It is more than a mere suggestion. Consider it required reading for every dignified minority whose voice should be heard and whose existence should be known.

Color me invested in the Obamas. I downloaded Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from My Father. And I am catching up on all of the book promotion interviews, starting with Carpool Karaoke. Jam along with us by pressing play below. 🎵This is for my girls🎵

11.30.2018 Seventeen days. It took me seventeen whole days to finish a 400+ page book. Why? Because I did not want the story to end. Because I soaked up every syllable. Because I took my time reading and related each chapter to my own life experiences. In fact, all of my bookish buddies are taking their time with this one. Let me attempt to explain why.

Becoming is like a homemade meal. You are excited while grocery shopping for the ingredients (checkout in your online cart or purchasing in a brick and mortar bookstore). You get home and lay everything out on the counter (admire the book, read the description again as if it even matters at this point. Change your social media status to "currently reading.") Start preparing the meal and cooking (crack open the book and read a few chapters). Once the meal is finished cooking and you smell the aroma, your mouth is watering. You've waited for this moment of tasting your home-cooked dish. Closing your eyes in ecstasy on the first bite. But you don't want to rush it! Take your time eating (reading) until the last forkful (page). Look down at your clean plate (closed book) with a smile. What a satisfying meal (book)! Now pass on the recipe (recommendation) to friends, co-workers, loved ones, or gift a fellow American.

This memoir is so well done. Thank you for sharing your unique story with such grace, Michelle Obama.

Title: Becoming
Author: Michelle Obama
Published: November 2018
Pages: 426
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

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