In this penetrating new essay collection, 21 writers of coloration explore the joys and heartbreak of dwelling inside the current American South, a substantial and diverse vicinity heavy with history, opportunities and contradictions. Edited through writer Cinelle Barnes, a resident of Charleston, South Carolina, A Measure of Belonging aims to answer the question: Who belongs here?
Written by a mix of mounted and emerging writers, those piercing essays present a clean and nuanced view of the South by means of never accomplishing flat Southern stereotypes or assuming a veneer of homogeneity. Instead the collection subverts the cultural dominance of whiteness by way of enticing with topics as numerous as Black college majorettes, the DMV and apartment hunting. Kiese Laymon, creator of the significantly acclaimed memoir Heavy, appears into the difficulties of residing in Oxford, Mississippi, as a Black professor. In his essay “That’s Not Actually True,” he explores the layered tension of race and sophistication in attempting to record his personal audiobook. In the essay “Foreign and Domestic,” Jaswinder Bolina talks about the specific sensation of being mugged in Miami and feeling a kinship to his muggers because of their similarities. He feels at home in a community with humans who seem like him, in a city that is technically part of the South but additionally a international away. In “My Sixty-Five-Year-Old Roommate,” Jennifer Hope Choi delightfully describes the unexpected consolation of moving in with her mom in South Carolina after a veritable lifetime of dwelling precariously in New York City. Latria Graham painfully deals with the never-ending flooding on her family’s farm, at the same time as Minda Honey relishes in her newfound auntie status.
Not all of the writers are initially from the South, however all of them make a contribution to a well-rounded view of the Southern United States as a place that isn’t a monolith. Sharp and witty, this collection suggests that there are numerous special approaches to live, breathe, thrive and be someone who belongs within the South.