Wow. I literally tore through the majority of this book in one night, and I haven’t had such a strong emotional reaction to a book in a looong time. Cooking with Grease is the memoir of Donna Brazile, a political strategist and the first African American to manage a presidential campaign. I started reading the memoirs of successful African American women like Condoleeza Rice and Michele Norris, so I could learn from their experiences, but no other memoirs I’ve read affected me the way this one did. Brazile describes her experiences growing up poor in New Orleans, the events that led her to become interested in politics, all the way up until the end of the 2000 campaign. One of the things I loved about this book is how Brazile’s passion for politics translates in a real way. I could tell that she really cares about people, and truly believes politics is an avenue for helping people.
However, her book most affected me through her descriptions of what happened on the campaign trail: the lying, the backstabbing, the bonding, the friendships and the hardships. Her book solidified my worst fears about journalism, about networks and papers publishing outright lies or bowing to political/corporate/monetary interests. She talked pretty openly about interactions with certain politicians (including the Clintons, Gores, and various other heavyweights), and the disrespect she encountered within the DNC. The most angering part of the book however, was her description of the racism coming from the George H.W. Bush campaign and the disenfranchisement of so many voters during the 2000 election. I knew about the shady tactics used to stop people from voting during that election, but her description of phone calls she got from people telling their personal stories really made my blood boil. Elderly people being turned away when literally at the polls, voting centers randomly closing their hours or saying they ran out of ballots, and poll workers requiring three or four sources of identification. All of these instances occurred disproportionately in low-income areas that were high in minority populations. The part that really made me mad was descriptions of POLICE OFFICERS aiding this process, in particular police stopping cab drivers who were transporting voters under the pretense of random license checks. My blood was literally boiling. When I think about the amount of organization needed by the Republican party and right wing supporters to pull this kind of thing off…….. And it reminds me so much of right now, and how politicians are trying to do the same thing with these new voting laws. It makes me sick to my stomach to be in this country where my vote, as a black woman is obviously not valued at all. I realize what some Europeans were talking about when they sarcastically refer to America as celebrating “justice” for all.
I would strongly encourage everyone to read this memoir. While it definitely made me angry, mostly it inspired me to read more and do more. It reaffirmed my choice to be a Democrat, strengthened my trust in the benefits of the democratic political process and most of all made me proud to be a black woman. I know there are so many problems we still have left to overcome in America, but I also know they can be overcome. whew! that was long, but I needed to it get off my chest!
I’ve been hastily making my way through Donna Brazile’s memoir, Cooking with Grease, but I stopped after reading this part where Brazile describes her first overseas experience, to Finland. I stopped because her description mirrors exactly what I was feeling in London, especially during many of my classes where we discussed America’s role in world politics. Being overseas threw me a little, because it forced me to change how I view myself. Even if I’m not always entirely conscious of it, here in America I think of myself as Black first, and inherently separate from mainstream America. But when overseas we are often lumped together in one category: American. This was especially evident in South Africa, but I was too young to really understand it then. When people in London would stereotype Americans I had to remember that I was actually part of that group. Just because I can see obvious differences between myself and other Americans doesn’t mean that everyone else can, the same way we can look at people from one country and think they are all the same. When people attacked America, I was expected to defend my country, because I am American, even if I don’t always feel like it. It forced me to think about the many similarities we share as Americans, similarities that are harder to recognize when I’m here. I don’t know, it just struck me that Brazile felt the same way I did, even though her experience happened 40 years ago and under different circumstances. Anyway, back to reading! I’m really enjoying this book so far!
Also, fyi if you need a few good laughs, follow Donna Brazile on Twitter she is completely reckless and I love it.
Just finished this book today and I am in love! I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this novel but it proved to be an absolute page-turner. There is really so much to love in this book about slave Liz Spocott and the chain of events that occur following her escape. I always love when novels incorporate history and this one is FULL of historical references. I especially enjoyed the insight this book gave into the slave code, which according to historians, may or may not have existed. I believe that slaves did have a unique way of communicating with each other, and it made my heart warm to read this account of intelligent and resourceful black people. I think James McBride did a great job with this novel, it flowed beautifully (I also recommend his other book, found here) and each character was unique and fully developed. I also thought the book was complete in the sense that it portrayed slavery from many perspectives, and showed how different people were involved in it. I definitely recommend this for a summer read. It is gripping, sad, funny and inspiring all at the same time! Wonderful!
Now that the semester is officially over, it’s time to tackle my summer to-do list. These are some things I have been itching to do for a while, but haven’t had the time to. But now summer is here and I have no excuse! So here is my summer 2012 checklist. Let’s see how many of these I actually cross off by August.
1. Learn how to put on makeup properly.
2. Catch up on reading (Currently in my queue are Song Yet Sung, Cooking With Grease, Sister Citizen, Good Self, Bad Self, Inheritance). I am open to more suggestions!
3. Complete a DIY project. I’m thinking of revamping old clothing or bags with pretty fabric.
4. Come up with a concrete grad school list (-_____-)
5. Master at least one of these recipes.
6. Hair. I’m just saying that one word because really there is so much I need to do with it. I need to get finally get rid of the all the relaxer, find a style that works for me AND I want to dye it. Yeah, we’ll see how this goes….
7. Get into TV. I have never been a big TV watcher or felt inclined to keep up with the latest shows, but I feel like I have been missing out on some great stuff! So I am going to make an effort to at least try out some television. I’ve started with Scandal it’s a great show!
8. Successfully grow a seed into a plant or a least keep an existing plant alive for a significant amount of time. This may seem easy but my track record with plants is absolutely AWFUL.
Truthfully there is so much more I want to do this summer, but I think this is a good starting point!