Tag Archives: Chop Suey Books

Telling the Truth: Slavery’s Descendants

A.B. Westrick holding Slavery's Descendants

My essay “So Many Names” is out this week in an anthology from Coming to the Table: Slavery’s Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation, edited by Dionne Ford and Jill Strauss (Rutgers University Press).

It’s an honor to see my words among so many thoughtful pieces, but there’s no honor in being a descendant of enslavers—generations upon generations of them. Instead, there’s a lot of shame, and that’s what I reflect on in this essay.

It’s hard to write about shame. Along the way, I revised my essay repeatedly, and moreso than with fiction, the writing process felt like therapy. At times, I trembled. I cried. But I put truth into print, and that felt good. I revealed facts that I imagine some of my relatives would prefer I’d left buried. Some might say to let bygones be bygones and embrace what’s good and noble in our Southern heritage. But one of the goals at Coming to the Table is “researching, acknowledging, and sharing… [history] with openness and honesty,” and with that, I’m all in.

I yearn for America to evolve from the hypocrisy of our founding fathers into our stated ideal that all are created equal. My roots are Southern, but I grew up in the North and have heard Northerners deflect criticism, essentially ducking their complicity in our racist past (and present) by blaming the South. Many would have us believe that in order to heal from the wounds of slavery, we must continue to shame Southerners and those who live in small towns in the midwest, like Ferguson, MO. But that sort of spin lets off the hook everyone in every city with a low-income housing project and every suburb where African Americans have at one time been red-lined out. It’s a denial of the systemic nature of the problem of racism in America.

In this anthology, while many essays have a Southern flair, others reflect on slavery’s reach from New England to Oregon. This is an important book, and I hope it will inspire more folks to work toward racial reconciliation and the transformation of our society.

If you’ll be in central Virginia this coming weekend, please join me, Bill Sizemore and Karen Stewart-Ross for a conversation about Slavery’s Descendants:

Saturday, May 18, 2019
6:30 – 7:45 PM
Chop Suey Books
2913 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23221

Funding for the production of Slavery’s Descendants was provided by Furthermore, a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

And P.S.—The New York Times featured Chop Suey Books a few weeks ago. All of us in Richmond are pretty proud of that, but then, we’ve known for years what a great place Chop Suey is.

Traveling through Time: Cold Summer

Cold SummerI met Gwen Cole two years ago at a fun author event (thank you, Richmond Public Library, for supporting YAVA -Young Adult Virginia Authors!), and really enjoyed her time-traveling teenager Kale Jackson. Cold Summer came out last year, and Gwen is here on my blog today for a little Q&A. Cold Summer: Debut novel. Time travel. Teen crush on the next-door neighbor. Summer romance. What’s not to love?

But before we get to the interview, congratulations, Gwen, on the release of your second novel, Ride On. I hear that it’s coming out Tuesday, May 22, from Sky Pony Press. Two novels in two years! Fantastic.

And I love that you’re doing a pre-order giveaway! Hey readers—May 21 is the deadline to sign up for swag: postcards, bookmark and a signed bookplate. Take a moment to sign up, then come on back. Hop to the end of this interview for more about Ride On, and keep reading here for our Cold Summer Q&A. We’re gonna talk time travel…

A.B. Westrick: Welcome to my blog, Gwen!

Gwen Cole: Great to be here!

ABW: Cold Summer is a fun story, and I want to start by asking about your favorite reads. Have you always been a fan of time-travel books? [Why the hyphen? See my *Note to grammar geeks.] Did you begin Cold Summer knowing it would be a time-travel story, or did it morph into that along the way? Continue reading