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The Trayvon Generation

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From a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author and poet comes a galvanizing meditation on the power of art and culture to illuminate America's unresolved problem with race. *Named a Most Anticipated Title of 2022 by TIME magazine, New York Times, Bustle, and more* In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 and following the murders of George Flo From a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author and poet comes a galvanizing meditation on the power of art and culture to illuminate America's unresolved problem with race. *Named a Most Anticipated Title of 2022 by TIME magazine, New York Times, Bustle, and more* In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 and following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Elizabeth Alexander—one of the great literary voices of our time—turned a mother's eye to her sons’ and students’ generation and wrote a celebrated and moving reflection on the challenges facing young Black America. Originally published in the New Yorker, the essay incisively and lovingly observed the experiences, attitudes, and cultural expressions of what she referred to as the Trayvon Generation, who even as children could not be shielded from the brutality that has affected the lives of so many Black people.  The Trayvon Generation expands the viral essay that spoke so resonantly to the persistence of race as an ongoing issue at the center of the American experience. Alexander looks both to our past and our future with profound insight, brilliant analysis, and mighty heart, interweaving her voice with groundbreaking works of art by some of our most extraordinary artists. At this crucial time in American history when we reckon with who we are as a nation and how we move forward, Alexander's lyrical prose gives us perspective informed by historical understanding, her lifelong devotion to education, and an intimate grasp of the visioning power of art.   This breathtaking  book is essential reading and an expression of both the tragedies and hopes for the young people of this era that is sure to be embraced by those who are leading the movement for change and anyone rising to meet the moment. 


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From a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author and poet comes a galvanizing meditation on the power of art and culture to illuminate America's unresolved problem with race. *Named a Most Anticipated Title of 2022 by TIME magazine, New York Times, Bustle, and more* In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 and following the murders of George Flo From a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author and poet comes a galvanizing meditation on the power of art and culture to illuminate America's unresolved problem with race. *Named a Most Anticipated Title of 2022 by TIME magazine, New York Times, Bustle, and more* In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 and following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Elizabeth Alexander—one of the great literary voices of our time—turned a mother's eye to her sons’ and students’ generation and wrote a celebrated and moving reflection on the challenges facing young Black America. Originally published in the New Yorker, the essay incisively and lovingly observed the experiences, attitudes, and cultural expressions of what she referred to as the Trayvon Generation, who even as children could not be shielded from the brutality that has affected the lives of so many Black people.  The Trayvon Generation expands the viral essay that spoke so resonantly to the persistence of race as an ongoing issue at the center of the American experience. Alexander looks both to our past and our future with profound insight, brilliant analysis, and mighty heart, interweaving her voice with groundbreaking works of art by some of our most extraordinary artists. At this crucial time in American history when we reckon with who we are as a nation and how we move forward, Alexander's lyrical prose gives us perspective informed by historical understanding, her lifelong devotion to education, and an intimate grasp of the visioning power of art.   This breathtaking  book is essential reading and an expression of both the tragedies and hopes for the young people of this era that is sure to be embraced by those who are leading the movement for change and anyone rising to meet the moment. 

30 review for The Trayvon Generation

  1. 5 out of 5

    emma

    a book-length version of a new yorker essay i already loved? what a dream

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    With her lyrical style, Alexander reflects on how young Black people have been shaped by the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others. I love the way Alexander includes examples of art and poetry to illuminate the trauma of racism. Wise and thought provoking. Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for sending me an ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Traci Thomas

    The title essay at the center of this collection is really great. Alexander writes so beautifully. The book is so short and sharp. I sometimes felt unsure while reading or disconnected, but mostly I felt moved by this work.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Building on an essay written for the New Yorker in 2020, Elizabeth Alexander touches upon what appear to be the key elements of the Black experience of the past decade, or more. Her initial concern is the Trayvon generation, those young people who have come of age since Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012. This includes her two sons who are now young men. She writes of her fears as a Black mother who sends her sons out into a dangerous world, but also of her pride in their accomplishments and thos Building on an essay written for the New Yorker in 2020, Elizabeth Alexander touches upon what appear to be the key elements of the Black experience of the past decade, or more. Her initial concern is the Trayvon generation, those young people who have come of age since Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012. This includes her two sons who are now young men. She writes of her fears as a Black mother who sends her sons out into a dangerous world, but also of her pride in their accomplishments and those of their friends. But how will this generation ever feel safe in this country after all they have witnessed since Trayvon’s death. Using cultural stepping stones of art, music and poetry, Alexander takes us through some of the more harrowing moments of Black experience in the past century. Her stories of Angola prison are like none I’ve read before. I found myself noting names of films, books of poetry and poets that are new to me as I read. As a white person, my life experience cannot be the same as Alexander’s but I do share a sense of horror when I see what happened to George Floyd and many other events of recent years. And her worries for her sons and other Black children feel so very real given what is happening in our world. Alexander is a brilliant wordsmith and brings her experience and those of the people she celebrates to life in a meaningful way. I recommend this book and plan to read it again. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I would not presume to understand how it must feel to be a Black mother of two promising, curious, loving sons who, in this day and age, must be protected from a nation that does not deserve them. Nor can I imagine being forced to embrace a reality where children are shot carrying a bag of Skittles, playing with a toy gun in front of a gazebo, holding a cell phone, dancing like a marionette – in other words, just being kids. The only way to move forward to confront this reality – and to do everyth I would not presume to understand how it must feel to be a Black mother of two promising, curious, loving sons who, in this day and age, must be protected from a nation that does not deserve them. Nor can I imagine being forced to embrace a reality where children are shot carrying a bag of Skittles, playing with a toy gun in front of a gazebo, holding a cell phone, dancing like a marionette – in other words, just being kids. The only way to move forward to confront this reality – and to do everything in our power to fix it – is through words. Elizabeth Alexander writes, “…if we believe that striving for absolute truth with the word is one of the ways that human beings an communicate deeply enough in order to overcome that which is not understood between us…might we ask: What is the power of our words? How are we responsible for them? What can we do with the , and do words move us closer to the hoped-for ideal of beloved community?” This spare but powerful book is proof absolute that words do move us closer. By using history (which does repeat itself – the current campaign against critical race theory is almost identical to the campaign used against John Hope Franklin’s groundbreaking book in the 1960s), as well as poetry, literature, and personal experience, this Pulitzer Prize finalist and empathetic human being’s voice is ever-strong. One of the saddest and most astounding examples she gives is a question – from an academic, no less – whether “Blacks cry.” If they don’t cry, after all, they’re not really human, are they? The answer, of course, is YES, they cry. And we should, too, for dehumanizing others for the ridiculous and trivial reason of a skin shade. Thanks to Grand Central for enabling me to be an early reader and for bringing this book to light. This is an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    sђellΐe

    Thank you Netgalley for the Advanced Reading Copy Content Warning: mass incarceration, police brutality, racial violence Elizabeth Alexander puts together a collection of short essays to explore several different examples of art and media (film, paintings, photography, poetry) Through her very gifted prose and well researched historical events she is able to pierce the heart (part I) and blaze a path through despair (part II) to possibility (part III).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Royce

    Brilliant! This small gem should be required reading in schools. “Language is one of the ways we share our perspectives…language is how we say who we are…language is how we learn across difference. And language is in trouble.” Read this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nadine in California

    Told through art and heart.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander was originally an essay published in the New Yorker. The essay was a reflection/analysis of the dangers facing young Black Americans. Now the essay has been integrated with art, poetry, and even a letter. The book looks at America’s unresolved problem with race. Parts of it broke my heart. It goes back in history and then ends with current events. On page 101 of the advanced copy is a 1905 letter from a man at a university asking for information on “w The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander was originally an essay published in the New Yorker. The essay was a reflection/analysis of the dangers facing young Black Americans. Now the essay has been integrated with art, poetry, and even a letter. The book looks at America’s unresolved problem with race. Parts of it broke my heart. It goes back in history and then ends with current events. On page 101 of the advanced copy is a 1905 letter from a man at a university asking for information on “whether a negro sheds tears”. This guy was seriously researching feelings. I cried at the poem on page 111 titled The Boy Died in My Alley. The artwork is kind of hard to see in the black and white printed ARC but the pieces of art are easy to look upon the internet to get the full feeling. My favorite piece is on page 17 by Mary Sibande titled The Reign. This is a small book that packs a powerful punch to the gut. Thank you Grand Central for sending me this to open my mind and heart to more understanding.

  10. 4 out of 5

    DEVONIA BOURGEOIS

    16 of #20BooksByBlackWomen

  11. 5 out of 5

    Genevieve Fleming

    As someone part of the “Trayvon Generation” this book made me feel seen and empowered. I love her use of art to describe societal issues impacting the Black community and uplift artists making movements through their work.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Essays, artwork, and poetry — reminded me a little bit of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. Alexander’s writing is devastating in its brutal simplicity. It’s a quick read, but the ideas will stay with you long after you finish reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jen D.

    Exquisite. Everyone should read this book. 5/5 stars isn't enough. The combination of visual art, poetry, stories and historical quotes, essay, and prose is profound and incredibly moving. How can I describe the way this book touched my soul? I could never do it justice. Exquisite. Everyone should read this book. 5/5 stars isn't enough. The combination of visual art, poetry, stories and historical quotes, essay, and prose is profound and incredibly moving. How can I describe the way this book touched my soul? I could never do it justice.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    READ. THIS. BOOK.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    This was a 4.5 read for me. thoughts coming shortly

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam Hughes

    First of all, I have to thank Grand Central Publishing and Elizabeth Alexander for sending me this finished copy of The Trayvon Generation... While it's so deeply saddening and defeating, this is the current corrupted society we are living in as Americans, where government officials are ruling like it's the 1860s and large extremist groups and lynching and mobbing to project hate. The Trayvon Generation is a stoic collection of essays and prose meant to address white people as the oppressor of b First of all, I have to thank Grand Central Publishing and Elizabeth Alexander for sending me this finished copy of The Trayvon Generation... While it's so deeply saddening and defeating, this is the current corrupted society we are living in as Americans, where government officials are ruling like it's the 1860s and large extremist groups and lynching and mobbing to project hate. The Trayvon Generation is a stoic collection of essays and prose meant to address white people as the oppressor of black people for hundreds of years. From owning black people as property to gunning them down in the street for holding a toy gun or driving without their seatbelt on... On most days, I'm severely embarrassed to be an America and wish I could pick up from the stupidity and move to a different country, but that would be selfish and privileged of me. As an ally it's my DUTY to speak up, stand up for the equality of all persons, regardless of their skin color, gender, background, influence, and class standing. I am encouraging more people to pick this book up so we can all continue to learn and educate ourselves on the history of systemic racism that has plague our country so we can speak up and DO BETTER by our brothers and sisters from different cultural backgrounds and upbringings. I am so honored to have received this copy in the mail and can't wait to spread the word to all of my friends! BLACK LIVES MATTER

  17. 4 out of 5

    Richard Thompson

    This is a beautiful book on several levels. It is nicely printed on high quality paper and illustrated with images of beautiful artworks that speak to the experience of black people in America. Ms. Alexander quotes liberally from black poetry that is filled with emotion and deeply expressive, and her own prose describing American black history and her and her family's personal experiences is beautifully written in a rich style that I wish I could achieve in my own writing. The book itself is a s This is a beautiful book on several levels. It is nicely printed on high quality paper and illustrated with images of beautiful artworks that speak to the experience of black people in America. Ms. Alexander quotes liberally from black poetry that is filled with emotion and deeply expressive, and her own prose describing American black history and her and her family's personal experiences is beautifully written in a rich style that I wish I could achieve in my own writing. The book itself is a sort of prose poem. There is some anger and frustration here at the long history of suffering and injustice that black people have endured in our country, and rightly so, but that's not the overall tone of the book, which feels hopeful and beautiful even when it is describing situations that seem hopeless and that are characterized mainly by suffering. It's certainly not a story about happiness. Ms. Alexander speaks of the false happiness attributed to enslaved people in the cotton fields of the old South, and she suggests that black dance is more properly seen as expression of a life experience with little happiness in it. But the suffering and injustice produces an admirable greatness in these people that is expressed in their art. I have read a lot of books about the black American experience and have liked many of them, sometimes even when I could see myself as the target of their wrath. I thought that I had learned about as much from books on black America as an old white guy could manage, but this book gave me a new perspective and a fresh appreciation of its subject matter.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Lothspeich

    What a fantastic read about they ways art and culture have influenced both civil rights and our lives in the past 60 years. This book reads like more of a conversation than a non-fiction piece; it tackles some very complicated topics in a matter-of-fact tone, which I appreciate. My one complaint is that I wish there were more pictures -- the photos that are included are excellent, and I found myself taking to google to look up the art projects that were mentioned but not shown.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McPhedran

    Can I give this 1,000 stars? In my heart, it definitely has that many-maybe more? A searing and gut wrenching look at racial injustice within our country; as well as a beautiful portraiture of the importance of art in making connections with ourselves, and those around us. Alexander talks about death, and leaving behind art to help heal and understand. This book is phenomenal, and I think that everyone EVERYONE should read this book. Michelle Alexander is a master.

  20. 5 out of 5

    kate

    slight but powerful

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dolly

    This is a short, but important book about the social justice issues centered on race in America.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    Lyrical, important and mostly, an interesting read. I especially loved the introduction (for me) to a group of fine artists, with illustrations included.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris Baker

    This is a great read on the intersection of art and race in American life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jen Carter

    This short and sweet extension of her New York Times essay really packs a punch. The analysis of the reality Black Americans face today along with the history of treatment and the civil rights movement is spot on. And I leave you with a quote that makes my skin tingle…”But they want me to remember their memories and I keep remembering mine”.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Good things come in small packages. This little book of essays triggers the gamut of emotions while looking at, and looking toward, the potential of the generation of young adults who will be charged with leading the forces of change in the coming years. I was left feeling that the book made me a better person for having read it. I learned from it. I gained understanding. My eyes were opened. And my heart ached. I will read it again because questions come to my mind and because it is so beautifu Good things come in small packages. This little book of essays triggers the gamut of emotions while looking at, and looking toward, the potential of the generation of young adults who will be charged with leading the forces of change in the coming years. I was left feeling that the book made me a better person for having read it. I learned from it. I gained understanding. My eyes were opened. And my heart ached. I will read it again because questions come to my mind and because it is so beautifully written; poetic and inspirational. The title essay is one part of the book which recounts the horrendous murders that shook the world, and remain incomprehensible in modern times. How is it possible that our society has degraded to such acts? How do we rise above it? Author ELIZABETH ALEXANDER dedicates heart and soul to her two sons who are part of the title generation. Her hopes and fears are laid bare in the pages, and her courage is generated by a mother's love. There are illustrations, works of art, among the pages that help to enlighten the history, the past present and future. The ongoing removal of certain monuments is an example of how we can right some wrongs. The author reminds us that monuments are meant to symbolize what is right and what is normal. But we do not want children to grow up looking at those symbols that depict slavery, cruelty and oppression as that which is right or normal. Not only is it an insult to children of color, but to all of our children who look for worthy heroes. The title generation of this book continues an ancestral history of artistic expression through poetry, songs, dance, and modern installations. One of my favorite examples is the billboard installation that stood for a time in Pittsburgh and then spread to other cities. "THERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE, " a creation of the artist Alisha B. Wormsley, brought smiles and encouragement to many, and then became part of other art forms. I hope that the "Trayvon generation" will read this book and be inspired and encouraged. And I hope that everyone else will read it and be moved to understand that we all have a stake in helping that generation to prosper. THE TRAYVON GENERATION goes on sale in April 2022. I was fortunate to be gifted an early reading copy by GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING.

  26. 5 out of 5

    thewanderingjew

    The Trayvon Generation, Elizabeth Alexander, author This is an excellent book, (an ARC) written without wasting a word, depicting the emotional stress that black citizens live with every day, and it is easy to identify with the need for change. However, one could substitute any oppressed people and the book would be as accurate. Historically, oppressed people who have succeeded, against all odds, have had to work harder to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. The author blames others for t The Trayvon Generation, Elizabeth Alexander, author This is an excellent book, (an ARC) written without wasting a word, depicting the emotional stress that black citizens live with every day, and it is easy to identify with the need for change. However, one could substitute any oppressed people and the book would be as accurate. Historically, oppressed people who have succeeded, against all odds, have had to work harder to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. The author blames others for the plight of people of color. She believes it is not their own responsibility to solve their problems, but rather it is the responsibility of the society of white privilege to repair the damage. Black people need safe spaces where they can be “free” and unafraid. I agree, but shouldn’t everyone have the same right to a safe space, free from fear? Providing safe spaces for some but not others, implies others do not deserve to be safe. Are black people targeted for crimes or are they committing more crimes? Some believe it is their right to commit crimes, because it is their due; it is reparations. Attacking others for the state of unhappiness and distress one finds oneself in, is like an alcoholic or a drug addict blaming the bottle or the narcotic. An inability to recognize that sometimes our own choices make our situation more untenable, creates more problems and no solutions. While the author genuinely expresses the ills of society and the pain and suffering of blacks, she offers no concrete suggestions to repair it. The original sin was committed in Africa, when Africans sold Africans as slaves. This is not addressed by the author, rather it is an essay about current conditions in the era of Trayvon Martin. So, is the community suffering from self-fulfilling prophecies? Some people are taught to respect the police, while others are taught to fear the police. Their reactions, therefore, are quite different. The author stresses the number of blacks murdered by police, completely ignoring the far larger number of black-on-black crimes and murders. The deaths of hundreds of innocents, not resisting arrest or committing any crimes. These criminals are not brought to justice because of a code of silence or because of the fear of gang retribution. If we excuse the crimes, they will proliferate. Most policemen join the force to maintain order, not to oppress a particular people. Yes, there are a few rotten apples, and they need to be weeded out, but so too, do the criminals engaging in the violence in these cities that are overrun by crime. In school, students are taught about social issues. They do not concentrate on subjects that will prepare them for their future. When they graduate, how will they earn a living? Perhaps society is responsible for that failure to produce successful men and women. At some point, there has to be an equality of effort and respect for America’s institutions before one can succeed. Today, black citizens want to self-segregate, want to have more power, and want the education requirements reduced so they can achieve the same grade level as those with whom they compete. But to raise up a portion of society, they need the tools to rise. They need to be taught, not have their standards lowered to standardize underachievement. If you want equity, you must also grant others respect and allow them to continue to achieve, not deny them their progress because you have not yet reached that level. Who wants to go to a doctor or lawyer or a mechanic, who has been excused from the training necessary to make them qualified to do the job? Changing history and removing statues that offend some and putting up others that are equally offensive to other groups serves no purpose. We must learn from our history not remove it from memory. Why is crime increasing only in certain cities? If we ignore our own culpability and always place the blame on others, especially those who are, or who have been, productive in society, we will be left with an unproductive declining society. In reality, we all have a lot to learn from each other, if we do not isolate ourselves. Life in America is not perfect, not for anyone, but all of the society’s ills cannot be attributed to race or religion. Individuals have to own up to their own behavior, good or bad. Single parents, children having children, a belief only in oneself and not a higher authority, not revering a good education, dealing drugs, expecting a handout and a leg up, and normalizing certain crimes, does not encourage upward mobility. Those principles make life an uphill battle. Before we can achieve our ideal society, we must first address the problems of our reality, the society we are in now. Fixing the injustices against one group by placing injustices on another is an oxymoron. This book, like so many, resorts to politics. It smears the participants of the rally on January 6th, which to some was only a real objection to an election that did not follow the rules, but ignores the months of rioting and looting by BLM and Antifa. The author makes mention of a Confederate Flag at the rally. That flag does not mean all people there believed in that confederacy, but rather that some people were hateful. Many BLM marchers said and did hateful things, as did Antifa marchers. Many blacks supported Hitler and the Nazis. Did that define them all? When marchers in Skokie carry Nazi swastikas, they are all Nazis, but we don’t condemn all of society. The specter hanging over black people is brutal. There is real fear of being caught up in the system and of the system’s violence, but many in the world fear the violence that their demographic inflicts, as well. It has nothing to do with their race but with criminal behavior. It isn’t white privilege or racism that causes someone to cross the street to avoid someone, it is fear of that person’s behavior because of actual statistics. We cannot fix a problem if we do not recognize it. There have been miscarriages of justice, but why is there no outcry to stop the black-on-black crime, the murders that are taking the lives of our future leaders? The loss of loved ones causes real pain. Why do the people resist those trying to maintain law and order? Why support the lawbreakers? Why make some criminal acts, legal? Don’t stop the police, stop the criminals. You cannot simply over compensate one way or another, because that is just as harmful to society. Which double standard is the one we should use? I say none. If we want to have a better generation, we have to have a better way.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rosereadseverything ❁

    "There is no progress without generations working together. And there is no North Star without vigorous creativity to imagine it for us and mark where it lights the way "(Alexander, 196).  I’m going to be honest. I had no idea what this book was about; I just saw a child who looked like me on the cover and a title that reminded me of a time when I realized my blackness was a threat, and I requested an advance reading copy immediately. For people who do not know, my five favorite things consist of "There is no progress without generations working together. And there is no North Star without vigorous creativity to imagine it for us and mark where it lights the way "(Alexander, 196).  I’m going to be honest. I had no idea what this book was about; I just saw a child who looked like me on the cover and a title that reminded me of a time when I realized my blackness was a threat, and I requested an advance reading copy immediately. For people who do not know, my five favorite things consist of: art, black people, books, healing, and carbs. And this book had all of those things, except for the carbs.  The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander is a book about how black identity has played a role in art's impact on the morale, future, and mental health of black people. The author starts by posing a question that stuck with me, "What will be our scared words?" From there on, I knew Elizabeth Alexander would be an author I would readily read from in the future. They explain the ways in which art has been used to dehumanize black individuals. Now that took me some time to get through because of how I discovered (as they described it) my delayed comprehension to inferior representation. But, that is what this book will do to you. It will make you think about the art placed around you. How racist is it? How sexist is it? But also, how has it been used by those deemed inferior and how can it be used to counteract it? My favorite part of this book is the importance Elizabeth Alexander places on art in the black community. Black artists (rappers, singers, painters, actors, actresses, poets, musicians, black mothers who cook, who knit, who braid beautiful cornrows) have made being black a little more joyful, and this book articulates this in a way that teaches as well as inspires. Taught through the pictures of black art. This book feels like an introduction to afro-futurism in the best way possible. The prose was palatable, some quotes were like poetry, and the stories told were well done. In the last chapter, Alexander leaves the reader (me) with a message to believe that the duty of black artists and consumers is not only to be impactful but to be free within it. I truly have no complaints or criticisms about reading this book. I enjoyed learning, and as a black female artist, I am more inspired than ever. I will definitely be buying the physical copy of this book to fill it with notes and highlights. This is a book that all black artists should read, and more importantly, children or teens of this generation who are losing hope in the future of black people, because there are indeed black people in the future.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Greg Talbot

    "Trayvon Generation" never quite lives up to it's provocative and stirring title. With the cultural attention on the George Floyd murder or other victims of police brutality, I anticipated the book would move beyond Alexander's stream-of-conscious. My hope is it would have writings or perspectives of young people who are exploring race in the twenty-first century. Unfortunately, Alexander takes quotes and cultural artifacts, without contributing to the larger conversation. Respectfully, this sub "Trayvon Generation" never quite lives up to it's provocative and stirring title. With the cultural attention on the George Floyd murder or other victims of police brutality, I anticipated the book would move beyond Alexander's stream-of-conscious. My hope is it would have writings or perspectives of young people who are exploring race in the twenty-first century. Unfortunately, Alexander takes quotes and cultural artifacts, without contributing to the larger conversation. Respectfully, this subject matter is incredibly important, but the writing here does not rise to the level of the subject. Alexander states "Here is the thorny truth: while many sectors of society are more integrated, violence and fear are unabated and the war against Black people feels as if its gearing up for another epic round (p.5). This premise is never backed up by evidence, and is profoundly cynical at a time when historical injustices are being addressed. A New York Times piece "How a National Movement Toppled Hundreds of Confederate Symbols" in Feb 2022 explores this historical reckoning. Further, any racial progress or counter viewpoints that might explore complexity of racial struggle are eschewed. The Obama presidency is treated as a fluke. It's hard to trust the author's intent, when every historical event brought up is pulled into a narrative and decontextualized. The parts of the book I appreciated the most were in Part II. Specificity about her family and fears for her adult sons in our society were emotionally devastating. The writing reminded, reminded me of Ta-Nehisi Coates "Between the World and Me", intertwining outrage and parental love. Also, I appreciated Alexander's passion for the love of Black artists. The messages about black futurism and appeals toward our shared humanity are impactful. I'd recommend other books that are reckoning with history and meeting our moment such as Imani Perry's "South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon Lien to Understand the Soul of a Nation" or Resmaa Menakem's "My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts"

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    This write-up is much more recommendation than review; for the book is too important and the topics too valuable to merely draft a review in which I seek to assess the writing. 'The Trayvon Generation' by Elizabeth Alexander is an extension of her essay published in the New Yorker which offered an observation of all that has impacted the lives of Black people; in particular how the persistence of race as an ongoing issue in America has affected the lives of what she has dubbed 'the Trayvon Gener This write-up is much more recommendation than review; for the book is too important and the topics too valuable to merely draft a review in which I seek to assess the writing. 'The Trayvon Generation' by Elizabeth Alexander is an extension of her essay published in the New Yorker which offered an observation of all that has impacted the lives of Black people; in particular how the persistence of race as an ongoing issue in America has affected the lives of what she has dubbed 'the Trayvon Generation.' In her book, Alexander does a tremendous job of weaving the ways in which Black art provides not only a look into the past, but also how it continues to play significant roles in understanding, shaping, and evaluating America. Through the poetry excerpts of Lucille Clifton, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Clint Smith; visual art such as Kara Walker's 'The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin' in response to the Confederate Memorial Carving at Stone Mountain and Renee Cox's Black woman superhero 'Raje to the Rescue' as a way to highlight a more liberated future; and by way of photography and a revisiting of history and who shapes stories, I found myself immersed, invested, and left with a sense that this book, while short, is mighty. At a time where reckoning with American history as a nation continues to be a hot topic, this book gives readers an informed historical understanding and addresses the ways in which we need to meet the issues still at play in order to actually move forward. I am grateful to Grand Central Publishing for the opportunity to read this book that I can only deem as essential reading. 'The Trayvon Generation' will be available in bookstores everywhere on April 5th. I cannot express enough how much you need this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Danielle | Dogmombookworm

    THE TRAYVON GENERATION | A short but brilliant book. The book is split into 3 parts. I thought the first part was the most brilliant. It is in conversation with Clint Smith's How the Word Is Passed, not only for its discussion on Angola but in its discussion on legacy, memorials and memory. When Stonewall mountain preserves the Confederacy forever into a mountain and book bans attempt to remove certain books claiming they "instill a guilt complex" for whites, yet Black life is expendable in life THE TRAYVON GENERATION | A short but brilliant book. The book is split into 3 parts. I thought the first part was the most brilliant. It is in conversation with Clint Smith's How the Word Is Passed, not only for its discussion on Angola but in its discussion on legacy, memorials and memory. When Stonewall mountain preserves the Confederacy forever into a mountain and book bans attempt to remove certain books claiming they "instill a guilt complex" for whites, yet Black life is expendable in life and death, legacy and memory are vitally important. "We speak to the dead with the certainty that if we do it long enough, they will answer. We speak to the dead in so many different ways because we know they left too soon, because we need their navigation, because we need to remember against the force of society's undervaluing us and throwing us away. We speak to the dead because we understand there is but a porous scrim between life and death." Part 2 is about the younger generation of Black folk who have grown up and been raised in what she's referring to as the Trayvon generation and the worry and love, Sula-love, that she has, which is born out of a need to ensure survival for her kids. Part 3 is about humanizing and looking to the future. There is a line that a young man in Angola says to her that just stopped me in my tracks: "we dress our ideas in clothes to make the abstract visible." Alexander is a beautiful writer and poet. There were so many passages that were just stunning to read. Seeing the photographs of art interlaced throughout was also beautiful (4.5)

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