The Warmth Of The Other Suns
I used to think nonfiction books were boring. Too long! Inaccessible! Not written for me! But now I know it’s because I had a BORING education that was completely whitewashed, sanitized, with no feeling, no stories!
Reading this makes me think how much I missed out on. I think this book is critical reading for anyone trying to gain a better understanding of US history and the Great Migration. I enjoyed how Wilkerson chose to show us this history. We follow the stories of 3 individuals as they all journey north to escape the Jim Crow South. During this period of time 6 million Black people would move from the south to the north and midwest. I am currently reading ALL THAT SHE CARRIED & Tiya Miles describes it in a way that stuck, “out of the jaws of the Jim Crow South and into the teeth of the segregated North.” When I was in school there was a pervasive lie (I use past tense because I am no longer in school, I am sure this lie is alive and well) that the North was safe for African-Americans fleeing the South. THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS paints a strikingly different picture. I found Ida Mae’s story in Chicago particularly illuminating. Dr. Foster’s life in Los Angeles also gave me a greater understanding of my own city and its history.
I reflect sometimes on the way I was taught history, all these broad strokes, with missing pieces. I have a big picture, but when I look close there are obvious gaps. What needs to be in those gaps? Stories. Individual stories. It is a reminder of how crucial it is that we hear each other and learn from each other. To ignore the past or purposely distort it, is to move through the present in a fog. If we are to move towards a more just future, we must be clear eyed about how we got here. It is impossible to do that without the truth. Wilkerson brings the stories of the Great Migration to the center, further solidifying its importance in United States history. There’s so much more I can say. But this book is beautiful. I loved it!