A Measure of Belonging
Twenty-One Writers of Color on the New American South
A New York Times Books New & Noteworthy book - A Most-Anticipated Book from BookPage, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Paperback Paris - Glowing reviews and features in Garden & Gun, CNN Philippines, Chapter16, Kirkus Reviews, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and more
This fierce collection celebrates the incredible diversity in the contemporary South by featuring essays by twenty-one of the finest young writers of color living and working in the region today, who all address a central question: Who is welcome?
Kiese Laymon navigates the racial politics of publishing while recording his audiobook in Mississippi. Regina Bradley moves to Indiana and grapples with a landscape devoid of her Southern cultural touchstones, like Popeyes and OutKast. Aruni Kashyap apartment hunts in Athens and encounters a minefield of invasive questions. Frederick McKindra delves into the particularly Southern history of Beyonce's black majorettes.
Assembled by editor and essayist Cinelle Barnes, essays in A Measure of Belonging: Twenty-One Writers of Color on the New American South acknowledge that from the DMV to the college basketball court to doctors' offices, there are no shortage of places of tension in the American South. Urgent, necessary, funny, and poignant, these essays from new and established voices confront the complexities of the South's relationship with race, uncovering the particular difficulties and profound joys of being a Southerner in the 21st century.
Hub City Press, 9781938235719, 189pp.
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. This fierce collection celebrates the incredible diversity in the contemporary South by featuring essays by twenty-one of the finest young writers of color living and working in the region today, who all address a central question: Who is welcome? How have you seen this question asked and answered in your own life?
2. Have you had moments where you felt unwelcome in your place? How did you feel? What was your response?
3. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution: “In Barnes’ introduction to the collection, the Filipino immigrant who grew up in New York City, recalls a welcome dinner her husband’s new employer hosted after they moved to North Carolina for his job. When queried for her opinion about the South by one of the wives, Barnes expressed things she liked about the region but added there were things she’d like to change. The wife’s response — at a welcome dinner, mind you — was, ‘Honey, nobody asked you to move here.’” How would you respond to a confrontation like this?
4. Some of the writers in this collection are not from the South, but have moved here and adopted the region as their home. Have you adopted a place? Do you feel as at home there as your birth place?
5. Food and community guides several of the essays in this collection. Do you think food is connected to place? Do you have memories of food and community that tie you to where you live?
6. This collection grapples with racism in many forms, both systemic and interpersonal. How have you had to interact with racism in your life? Has it affected your relationship with place? Have you had to reconsider your place due to racism and its effects?