Racial Justice Reads
Our movement’s lit!
Literary AND lit up… by brilliant authors sharing important lessons and stories in a captivating format: BOOKS!
Friday November 18
From the “American Dream” to the “Nation of Immigrants,” the United States’ defining myths have planted and maintained a racist and selective history in the common imagination. What does it mean to become an “American," to claim belonging in a country built on genocide and enslavement? Racial Justice Reads 2022 opens with this stimulating panel of three attorneys turned authors who have taken up these types of questions in three very different genres. Deepa Iyer is author of We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future, and the forthcoming Social Change Now: A Guide for Reflection and Connection. Kung Li Sun has—after years of tireless advocacy on the national and southern regional level—written Begin the World over, a “fictional alternate history of how the Founders’ greatest fear—that Black and indigenous people might join forces to undo the newly formed United States—comes true.” Sofia Ali Khan recently published her first book A Good Country: My Life in Twelve Towns and the Devastating Battle for a White America, which can be seen as a memoir of both a person and place. Together with Racial Justice Reads founder R. Cielo Cruz, this panel will delve into the personal and political struggles of telling an “American” story.
NY Times best-selling author Nnedi Okorafor has said that "Science Fiction is the only genre that enables African writers to envision a future from our African perspective." Having penned dozens of titles in a variety of genres, Okorafor repeatedly puts African women and girls at the center of world-changing moments within complex fictional universes. From outer space travel to cybernetic quests for justice, Okorafor’s heroines take the reader through borderlands and beyond outer limits, of nations, of planets, of the human body. They traverse from belonging to exile, endure isolation and find love and triumph, all while expanding their own possibilities, at times to their own surprise. In a live reading and q&a moderated by Racial Justice Reads founder, R. Cielo Cruz, participants will visit these African futures and learn the origins of the intrepid protagonists who shape them.
Saturday November 19
Toni Morrison wrote: “I stood at the border, stood at the edge and claimed it as central. l claimed it as central, and let the rest of the world move over to where I was.” Following Morrison, Rebecca Roanhorse is creating worlds where Black and Indigenous People of Color, particularly women and queer folks, are at the very center. In her most recently published Between Earth and Sky series, this award-winning NYTimes Bestselling author brings readers through a fictional world that rejects the Eurocentric and patriarchal concerns that preoccupy the dominant culture. Instead, she begins her story with the foregone conclusion that women and nonbinary people of color lead, love, and risk to make decisions that swing the fate of nations. In conversation with Racial Justice Reads founder, R. Cielo Cruz, the author will discuss her experience crossing literary genres, building new imagined landscapes, and folding some of the most pressing questions of our political lives into action-packed, magical narratives that leave readers hungry for more.
One can describe the novels of Robert Jones, Jr. and Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa as historical fiction, set in 19th-century plantations in Mississippi and Puerto Rico respectively. Jones Jr.’s 2021 award winning novel, The Prophets, centers on two male lovers, Isaiah and Samuel, carving out space for their own heart’s desires. Llanos-Figueroa’s two novels revolve around enslaved women and their descendants, insisting on liberation on their own terms. While the brutality of slavery besieges the lives of the protagonists, their stories center on deep spiritual agency, physical rebellion, and the beautiful, stubborn exercise of will. In this moderated panel with Racial Justice Reads founder, R. Cielo Cruz, these two powerful novelists and cultural commentators will share excerpts from their works, answer questions, and discuss the shared themes in their fiction.