Today I had my first meeting for the campus book club. It isn’t a club that meets particularly regularly because we all have our own busy schedules, but rather is scheduled for two meetings and a screening of the movie based on our book. As I am playing with the idea of going back to school, I figured participating in this would be a good way to get my mind thinking critically again. While I believe I always read with a critical eye it is different when you know you have to discuss the work in question. Plus the book that was chosen was Native Son, by Richard Wright and I have read it many times before so it wouldn’t be too hard.
I am not a fan of Richard Wright. I find his work to be wordy, unsophisticated, underdeveloped, and full of self-loathing. However, I am always curious to see how other people feel about him because he is considered to be one of “the greats” and Native Son is seen as a masterpiece. It’s not a bad book. I find it to be rather preachy and altogether too obvious but I can see why it could be seen as relevant. It is certainly a somewhat entertaining read what with the violence and political intrigue although the lack of chapters is incredibly annoying. Either way, I figured it would make for a good discussion.
I wasn’t disappointed. Our group facilitator did a great job of asking pertinent questions, allowing everyone to express their opinion and keeping the discussion moving. He also did a good job of keeping his personal opinions out of things. I feel that I did a good job of that as well, which is not easy for me. Our next meeting is on the third of next month and he posed some challenging questions to us.
- Do we know a Bigger Thomas?
- Do we know anyone who resembles the other characters in the book?
- How have race relations in
changed from the 1930s until now? Chicago
- Do we still allow the stereotypes that pervaded the community into our minds today?
The first two questions made me chuckle. If you haven’t read the book, Bigger Thomas is about the most stereotypical “poor uneducated young Black man who is stuck on a path leading to destruction” that you could ever come across, and the white characters are also stereotypical “well meaning rich liberals who think they are helping”. All I had to do was think back to my last job and realize that I knew plenty of people who fit both these categories and some of the latter weren’t white folks. I guess that is how race relations in
I look forward to our next discussion. It’s a good and diverse group of people and I enjoy people coming together and discussing things that interest me. You all know I love some good talk of race and racism.
1. I love you/ Completely/ Please I don't want you to go/ Though you are not content here with me and you feel you must go. You Feel You Must Go, Don’t Go!, Of Montreal
2 You've got a bad reputation/ That's the word out on the town/ It gives a certain fascination/ But it can only bring you down. Bad Reputation, Thin Lizzy
3. They got a committee to get me off the block. Cause I say my rhymes loud and I say them non stop. Slow Ride, Beastie Boys
4. On the corner/ We talk away/ Everybody’s older these days. Glass Conversation, The Ponies