01 Notes on a Silencing: A Memoir by Lacy Crawford
Crawford thought the trauma of her assault at St. Paul's boarding school decades earlier was behind her. But when evidence of extensive sexual assault and new allegations at St. Paul's School came to light, she added her voice to the throng of the attacked and abused, reopening her own file.
She dove back into pages of interviews and information detailing the young, naive choir member she was then, the daughter of a priest--and realizes that an institutional cover-up of sexual abuse had taken place for decades at the school that had pledged to protect and educate young people within its walls.
Notes on a Silencing is a memoir in which Crawford, now a wife and mother, faces the challenges of asserting her decades-old case yet again, against continued resistance from a school that seems disturbingly willing to value its reputation over the safety and security of its teenaged students.
02 I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Austin Channing Brown's book is slim (185 pages), but I'm wearing out my highlighter as I mark lines and passages to discuss with the group I'm reading it with.
Brown details growing up female, black, and Christian (with a name her parents purposely gave her in order to create assumptions that she is a white man) within mainly white educational, religious, and societal frameworks. She shares moments of reckoning, evidence of yawning racial divides, and her insistence on and joy in embracing her black identity and her self-worth. She is wise, thoughtful, frustrated, and fascinating.
03 The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
I'm listening to Henderson's spooky book, and this dark, witchy tale feels perfect as winter is coming.
The stories of Immanuelle's mother Miriam all have one thing in common: her defiance of the Prophet. She was cut with the mark of the Prophet and was promised to him, but she was far from the submissive, obedient young woman held up as ideal in the land of Bethel. She became pregnant with Immanuelle by a man outside the claustrophobic community and died when Immanuelle was born.
When Immanuelle ventures into the Darkwood, she unwittingly offers power to a set of curses that threaten to destroy all of Bethel--unless Immanuelle can use the clues in her mother's devastating journal, her own hard-won realizations, and her new-found determination to defy the witches of the wood and their deadly vendettas and save her faulted community that is all she's ever known.
What are you reading now?
Well, this is no lighthearted list. Crawford's and Brown's books offer endless food for thought and highlight infuriating circumstances; they are written by strong women who refuse to sit back and accept ongoing wrongdoing. Henderson's witchy tale is taking its main protagonist to a very dark place so far, and I'm not sure there's a bright light at the end of the tunnel for this story, but I think there's a glimmer. I hope each of these books will offer some version of redemption or hope or a path toward justice.