This month I finally got back into the swing of reading! I completed three books this month.
Where the Line Bleeds by Jesymn Ward
This is the third book I’ve read by Jesymn Ward. It follows Joshua and Christophe as they navigate life after high school. Set in a fictional Mississippi town in 2003. I enjoyed following Joshua and Christophe as they did all they could to keep out of trouble and help out their family.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano was an amazing book. I first discovered this book when Jenna Bush Hager featured it on her Read with Jenna segment on the TODAY Show. This book follows Edward as he is the lone survivor of a plane crash.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson was a good book. This is the second book I have read from Jacqueline Woodson. We travel between two timelines, Aubrey and Idris, and then their daughter Melody. Aubrey and Idris were two teens who caught each other’s eye during school and on one fateful night, created Melody. Idris was 16 at the time. Fast forward to Melody’s 16th birthday and we see her relationship with her parents and grandparents as she prepares for her cotilion, an event that her mother Idris didn’t get to have because of her pregnancy. The time frame of this book is from around 1984 to 2003. I enjoyed this book and it was nice and short.
Bill Cosby. Robert Kelly. Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Louis C. K.
Those names are very familiar now for all the WRONG reasons. Their actions brought in the new era of accountability known as the #METOO movement. 2017 was a wild time for accountability. It seemed like every time you turned around, someone would be getting called to the carpet for being a sexual predator. Weinstein ended up in prison. Cosby ended up in prison. Kelly ended up in prison. Louis still has a career as does Spacey, if you can call it a “career”.
Last month, Bill Cosby was released from prison due to a legal technicality. It had something to do with a plea deal Cosby made in an earlier trial from like 2004. Anyway, his show, The Cosby Show was a prominent show in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a little bit before my time(i was born in 1992). The show aired on NBC and was one of the highest rated shows of its time during its entire run.
I’ve watched the show often over the years. When all the stuff about Cosby’s sexual misconduct came out, people began calling for The Cosby Show reruns to be taken off the air. Their stance was that by airing re-runs of the show, the networks would be implicitly endorsing Bill Cosby himself and therefore agreeing with his misconduct. The networks complied, and re-runs were subsequently taken off the air. I remember feeling miffed about this because I felt that people were punishing the cast for the actions of one man. Cosby did what he did, but taking the show off of syndication would only hurt the remaining actors of the series in my opinion. When shows are in syndication, everyone working on the show gets paid royalties. Many of the actors from the show did go on to have good acting careers and were successful in other ventures, but they still should have been able to receive the royalties they earned from the show.
All of this brings me to my main question, can the art be separated from the artist? I personally believe it can, but I understand why some people may feel differently. It is a personal choice for you to stop engaging with an artist’s content because of their off-screen misconduct. That is your prerogative. YOU cannot tell ME that I cannot engage with the artist’s content just because you don’t.
The Cosby Show currently is available on Amazon Prime. It may still come on TV, on channels like TVLand, but I don’t have cable so I am not sure. I just watched a really good YouTube video about this particular subject. The video is by a YouTuber named Jose. I’ve linked it below. it is about an hour and a half long.
Bottom line for me is that separating the art from the artist is ultimately a personal choice and one that you cannot force onto someone else. The shows, films, tv specials, music, et cetera that these men have worked on are still apart of the overall media culture. Their wrongdoings have tarnished their own representations as well as the representations of their art, however, engaging with their content doesn’t mean that you implicitly or explicitly endorse these men’s wrongdoings. Accusing someone of endorsing sexual misconduct just because they watch re-runs of The Cosby Show or watch old Kevin Spacey films, or listen to Robert Kelly’s music(and music he has produced or been a songwriter on), is a slippery slope that I don’t think you all are prepared enough or cognizant enough to try and go down.
I lamented about my lack of reading in one of my most recent posts, which can be read here. Since that post, I have read 1 book and am currently reading another. I also went on a book shopping spree at my local Barnes and Noble. I read “Where the Line Bleeds” by Jesymn Ward. I put a short review of the book on my Goodreads account, which can be accessed here. I am currently reading “Dear Edward” by Ann Napolitano. I am halfway through it, it is really good. I’ll probably post a review up here when I finish. I bought six books during my shopping spree. 1 memoir and 5 fiction books. I chose books from my Goodreads TBR. Currently, my TBR has 20 books on it.
Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi
Red at the Bone – Jacqueline Woodson
Long Division – Kiese Laymon
Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender
The Ugly Cry – Danielle Henderson
After the Shot Drops – Randy Ribay
I hope I can read most of these by the end of this year. I’m glad I was able to get back into reading so seamlessly.
I’m annoyed. I’ve been trying to read a book for about a month. I bought the book early last year on a spontaneous trip to Barnes and Noble. I have talked extensively up here about how much I have loved to read books throughout my life. Back in 2017 and 2018 I reignited my love for reading. I read so many books in those two years, I chronicled my Goodreads journeys and book reviews in various blog posts some of which you can check out: here, here, and here. I don’t know why I have fallen off with reading, but it is frustrating me. I actually haven’t even purchased a book since last year. Like WTF?! I even considered re-reading some of the books in my bookshelf, but I can’t get the urge to do that either. Maybe I should take a trip to Barnes and Noble or my local library to get the feeling back. I don’t know. I typically read a variety of genres. I like fiction and non-fiction. Historical fiction is very interesting. I love memoirs/auto-biographies as well. Some of the books I bought last year, I tried to read and didn’t have much luck. I think in total last year, I read 2 of the 4 books that I purchased. Maybe I should try audiobooks. I really don’t know. I’ll see what I end up doing. I certainly have enough books in my bookshelf to try something.
Being woke has been a thing for a while. I’d say since 2013/2014 or so. It picked up heavily in 2016 with all that was going on that year. By the end of 2016 everyone was woke, including me. It really spread like a wildfire. For a time between 2017 and last year, it seemed as if everyone wanted to out-woke, one another. Person A was woke, but Person B was woke-er. Celebrities and media personalities started getting into wokeness, and then shit really hit the fan. Twitter was a wild site for a minute. I remember some of the fights that happened between liberal/woke celebrities and regular folks and conservative celebrities. It was funny and obnoxious. People were really fighting hard.
I grew tired of woke-ness when the pandemic hit in the midst of what would end up being one of the most embarrassing and absurd election cycles in recent history. Don’t get me wrong, the 2016 election cycle was bad, but last year’s cycle was even worse. People really were losing their shit last year. Woke-ness really was at an all time smug high. Everything became a test of who was woke. It got really annoying, really fast. During all this, identity politics had picked up speed as well. Before 2016, identity politics was a thing, but not so blunt in everyone’s face. From 2016 to last year, and even to today, identity politics permeates everything. Like woke-ness, identity politics is another barometer test. How many identities can you check off of a box. Person A is a cis-gender lesbian Black American, but Person B is a non-binary pansexual neuro-divergent Native American. You see the issue here. Everyone wants/needs a label if you are following the identity politics scheme.
Identity politics is obnoxious too. Instead of focusing on what qualities someone has, it focuses on small details of that person. Yes, your race, gender, sexuality is part of who you are, but it is not ALL that you are. Yet, this culture war wants everyone to believe that their race, gender, and sexuality is the most important thing ever. It isn’t. I understand the human need to be apart of something, but identity politics isn’t the way to go in my opinion. I don’t believe that identity politics is helpful. It causes more division than anything. I’m tired of division. It’s exhausting to be honest.
There has to be a better way to exist. The culture wars are annoying. The woke-ness is annoying. I’m Black yes, but that is not the end all be all to my identity. I want there to be a time in our lives where our race/gender/sexual orientation isn’t that big of a deal. We are like a pie, our race/gender/sexual orientation, are pieces of our pie. We are all humans first, and if we don’t come together, we will always be at war. When are we going to get tired of fighting one another?