This is a #BlackHistoryMonth !
If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin.
What if you were a 19-year-old lady, in a relationship with a man who were falsely accused of a crime?
"Justice will prevail!!!!!!!!" said someone famous—probably an already-dead philosopher or just God.
Except you and your loved one were black, in a non-white neighborhood, somewhere in America, surrounded with emotionally unstable white police officers.
Weird that novel's synopsis doesn't feel like a fiction, but more like a description of a recent YouTube or Twitter video where police were accusing black people for daring to exist. This novel was written in 1973, and here we are in 2020 where people of colors are still facing injustice everywhere.
I love that the story is given by Tish, the girlfriend rather than from her boyfriend's perspective or in third-person point-of-view. I love her train of thoughts. Reading this feels like reading our grandma's diary: both sweet and beautifully tragic.
Alread have finished two of Baldwin's books I still can't find what makes his writings as his, which is a great thing. I wouldn't expect this book is written by a man if I didn't know that the name "James" are usually for men.
“Giovanni’s Room” was my first Baldwin’s works that I’ve had read before this, which I didn’t enjoy that much, perhaps due to my lack knowledge in its context or its big ideas, and I found the main character / the narrator was too emotionally numb. But "If Beale Street Could Talk” hooked me since its first pages.
I haven't watched the movie yet (not sure if I really want to) even though the paperback I have here is a movie tie-in edition. I can't complain for its cover since I bought it in a lower price 🤷🏾♂️.
Nature vs Nurture vs Culture = Systematized Reality?
For me, the main theme of this novel is how our lives had been built systematically.
There's this thing called "Redlinings" or a segregated housing system in United States (which I believe also exist in another country), where whites live with whites and people of colors live with people of colors.
Where the government, and bank were willingly gave loans to white people to afford their homes while black community were struggling to make ends meet and had to face more obstacles in owning a home.
Where schools funded from its neighborhood in white community have better educational systems, due to having more "economically fortunate families" which unsurprisingly produced more "educated" citizens with lower criminal records.
Where people saw different races with prejudices, without knowing that their prejudices came from their lack of knowledge due to not having people from different race as their neighbors.
That crimes were born from our corrupted system including our housing systems. Where abandoned places produce more crimes, also called as "Broken Windows Theory".
Therefore, our realities are shaped by politics, money, and greedy assholes.
Then this system also ingrained in us, in a smaller scale. I'd like to see that Tish falls in love with Fonny is caused by segregated neighborhood. They've already known each other since childhood, and they haven't get to know other people from other races.
That Fonny's mom is longing to feel save, to feel belonging in one community, therefore finds religion as her home.
That a black woman who travels alone is dangerous, because it isn't coming from the culture of black people. By the culture we meant "Black wasn't supposed to safely travel alone! Because our systems wouldn't allow that!".
Then how we identify ourselves if our cultures weren't shaped by us?
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