tv Morgan Jerkins Wandering in Strange Lands CSPAN September 5, 2020 11:20am-12:16pm EDT
with the territory but i think in trump's case at least in the modern political era post-world war ii i have never seen anything like it. >> sunday at noon eastern on in depth. our live it to our conversation with the author and faith and freedom coalition. his most recent for god and country join in the conversation with your phone calls. watch book tv in depth. sunday at noon eastern. >> good evening everyone and welcome. i direct the events here. before we go into the discussion. on the book "wandering in strange lands" i would like to share a little bit of history about this. it was founded in 1927 by bender benjamin draft.
after 93 years the sole survivor. with the third generation owner. think all of you for your support the authors like morgan would not be here today. tonight i'm beyond thrilled to head him with us. to celebrate the release of her new book wandering in strain places. morgan juergens -- jerkins i thoroughly recommend this. also a visiting professor at columbia university. the short form work. has been featured in the new york times the atlantic rolling stone esquire in the guardian among many others. based in harlem. joining morgan in conversation. born and raised in jackson
mississippi that chilling professor. the author of the long division author. how to slowly kill yourself and others in america. it's also the author of the men were heavy. named one of the best books. by the undefeated. the publishers weekly. in the library journal. the washington post. and entertainment weekly the san francisco chronicle. in the new york times critics. without further ado. please join me in welcoming him to the stage. the hi everyone. i'm so excited to talk to you about this book. i wish that we could we could
of done this down south. >> this is full for me. two years ago i was in a conversation with you at the brooklyn public library. you helped me. i am mississippi through and through. i lived in new york for 16 years. every time i went to the city it was always like the first time. i get shaken. i don't feel right. let's talk about wandering in strange lands. this is such a departure from what you did before can you talk to me not just how you pulled it off. i think a lot of times we don't talk about that gumption.
what gave you that gumption or audacity to even think about this. >> i think it's just wonderful. let me say something. there was many times throughout this book when i i was thought i was in a make it. i sat here right here on this couch. they have not given me any kind of conclusion that i can work with. i thought they were gonna cancel my book deal. when i first read this. for you that are not familiar with my career i graduated at a top university and i was trying to become an editorial assistant and a publishing house and i was not getting a job. i was not even making it from the first and second round. this summer of 2014. i saw some so many people and
been paid for it. i thought maybe that was my influence. but then most women of color often time personal essays are devalued as an art form i'm not trying to shame them. i look at the first book to give shane back. and as a black woman. because people like that show the world that you can be a blessing. that's saved the way. i have always been a curious person and very close to my family. there was all these different omissions and gaps. i was so curious about them. i wanted to investigate that. so even though i don't show that so much. i have always been interested in history.
i go down 70 different radicals. we both are work people. i love how the book is wandering in strange lands in there is so much wondering in it. it's like a wondering about ultimately your people and your father. they led you to this journey were you come down south. you try to find it there. did you feel like you are going to look at a part of you. i'm in a keep it real. i was very insecure about where i fit. my mother and my father weren't together anymore. i didn't know i had three other sisters until i was like seven or eight years old. now where do i fit in these family trees. when i wrote this book.
and i wrote the louisiana section of the book. it was so healing for me. it brought me closer. i went walking through the woods. in places he did not even go. it was definitely a journey not only trying to find out the expanses of african-american history. but also to find a bit of myself. two recognize down there and i was. it was very healing for me. one thing i want to say before i keep going. make sure to put them in the chat. we will try to get through them along the way. will get to talk much. i want to ask the hard questions. >> what was your biggest what people say preconceived notion about the south generally. before you came down here did
you make the distinction between north carolina kentucky deep south louisiana mississippi. or was it all to you. for me it was like everything from maryland on down to the south. the big expanse of land that i knew very little about. i have never been to the deep south. but i went back to florida in georgia. florida for leisure. not necessarily for this type of work. the south to me as a rich cultural reason that even though it really didn't have much. it was like a shadow of what i should have known or what was passed on to me. >> one of the things after reading the book you know what i really want to ask you. i wanted to know why you came
to ask where families are from in the south, guaranteed they're from mississippi because of the migratory patterns. for me it's like, ask me the south everywhere. even if we are not there, we don't know -- it's -- there's remnants, whether it's in the food, the dialect or whatever. it is still there, and i still like -- there was a quote that stuck out for me that i think maya angelou said. it's bringing people back like other siren call. this whole journey felt like siren call. >> one thing you do is you mystify and then demystify water and land, and you did it like i think great writers do, you let the characters -- the people/characters you interact with help demystify water and
hand. what did you found but water and land specifically during this? >> i'm so excited. so, so much was me unpacking a lot of my assumptions out black american outside and why i say identity i didn't know there were identities under the black american experience. >> i know. >> so, i assumed that all black people were afraid of water because that's what i drew up -- grew up with. death and water have been intertwined. my mother almost suffered a near fatal drowning accident. and we were taught -- it was because of our hair, kinky, coily hair. that wasn't it because even the men who had their hair shaved done wouldn't swimming mitchell mother grew up in atlantic city
and it's a barrier island and nobody knew how to swim. so for me i wanted to take it's step further and wonder why. but i made a mistake. spoke to a woman in low country georgia, testify any young, and i said 0 black people afraid of water and she said that's not true.she says in a documentary, water this bloodline so if that's the case, if the water is the bloodine for this ethnic group of african-americans to whom we owe so much where did the separation otour and the separation occurred from many different ways. the separation occurred men african-american people were great swimmers but when the transatlantic slave trade happened a lot of them wouldn't let their children good near the water because they were afraid they would be taken. so the transatlantic slave trade. we dent now how many enslaved african-american are at the
bottom of the ocean. some historians say it's a floating graveyard. and you think about the plantations, crocodiles and whatever, can kill you while your building levees and dikes. even more than that, if we think thought those who me gritted north. before black people started migrating in droves white people -- when the black people started coming in droves everybody had to be white to protect themselves from these interlopers, but again, going down to the south, you good to the island, one of the larger barrier islands in georgia which used to be -- their water is poison. the water they have is full of lead and made me think of flint, michigan, and newark, new jersey, and other black currents where is happening. so the water can constitute freedom, the river jordan, the ohio river separated slave territory from free territory.
baptisms, take me to the water. transformation. it can represent freedom and transformation, also heaven, because people bury their people based in water because they believe in the afterlife you good back to africa. so it represents all of these things and also represent death and disappearance. it runs the gamut so i wanted to make sure this was a chapter i was most worried about. told myself you better nail it because it brings up so many strong emotions and i wanted to show the complexity of what water means to african-americans and their enslaved people and it's a centuries old leg guess, stemming from institutional forces like segregation. and what water can do to our lives. >> growing up down here, again, like lot of us have grandparents
and parents who either died or almost died and n lakes and rivers, but the fear of like all of those bodies we know at the bottom of the laings is one of the things that just terrified us growing up. when i got to that part in the book -- one thing love about what just did. i you want to experience what she just did, that's what the become is. it's walking with morgan jerkins as she fucking and researches and finds the majesty, what i call the abundance in you in us. >> the internet sometimes makes these kinds of books less likely, because research people think it's like pushing click and a google but you wrote a book about researching you, and in me. you wrote a book but researching me, and thank you for doing that shit. i want to make sure we get to --
just for people who might not have actually read the book, can we talk but the tension. because there wasn't just i'm going down and this is going to be a tense-free exploration, narrate his journey. there were some tense moments. can you talk about those a bit. >> so many. where do i start? the history of our ancestors in being alone in certain parts in the deep south. i can take it wherever you want me to take it. >> i feel like you flipped the isolation portion. can we talk beaut the -- about the tension and the terror you feel and how the terror unveiled in ways you did not expect. >> for example, like, when you talk about books that may not be made like this, it's interesting because i'm a millenial, and i know how the internet can be a great place for conversation and terrible place, and i know and i've said this before.
i know what it's like to have my work taken out of context, mangled, maimed for only for public humiliation not conversation. one thing want to say is we say all the time i'm not my ancestors ancestors and it's done in -- i'm stronger than them. but it's interesting for me bus when i hear the phrase i am not my ancestors what does that mean? we say that black people are not a monolith. what does that mean for black people trying to survive in ways we may not deem successful or comfortable in the present day; and so i tell people all the time i'm proud of the public school system. it was the transatlantic slave trade, it was slavery, emancipation, the hall of renaissance, civil rights movement and obama. that's it. i was never taught that there
were free people of color, free black people prior to lincoln, never taught that there were black slave openers. thousands of them. now, granted, there were black slave owners who brought their family members -- bought their family members to freedom but we don't like to talk about those things, talk but that because then it complicate otherwise notion of whiteness and blankness if we're trying to get the financial and cultural path forward. that was hard because i was taught that black people just on the farther end of the spectrum in regards to white people in order to access the capital. completely disenfranchised from it. why -- that very uncomfortable for in and i want to eewrappate. you think this makes you mad. this makes me mad, too.
>> right. yeah. there are lot of portions in the book where i didn't feel mad but i felt like you were complicating history that even some of us know and live. i'm from mississippi, deep, dierks deep. about i just felt like you wering she my different ways, dirt portals of entry into what i consider myself. want to talk but the interpersonal. we talk bit the north and south and interpersonal relationships. when i came up north, one of the difficultied i had was because i have what we call down here home training. i say, hey, to everybody. most people look at me, i look you become in the eye, i nod at everybody. and then that shit is not what everybody does, let's say that in new york city. can you talk how just the folk ways and interpanel -- interpersonal folk ways were
different than when you came south. >> i knew that black people looked out for me in a way i'm not sure what happened in the north. it was like once you learn this person, okay, i want you to meet this person. and did you get back to the hotel safely? i was looked out for and i'll say this, the places i went to were very seriously heavy. even when i was making that drive back from hiltonhead to savannah at night and i usually didn't -- i usually tried to make sure i finished all my field work before sundown bus i was a woman in the deep south, but i felt like i was protected. in a way that's hard to describe if you don't believe in the disvine or don't believe in spirits but i felt it. every time i got in my car, every time i finished with another person, and i even had people say, the reason why i spoke to you about this, i
opened up but this is because either the ancestors told me or i saw something about you, that what you were doing was genuine. some people had already been taken advantage of. other scholars gone down and mined their lives for stories and didn't give them proper acknowledgment. i was already in a very precarious position. >> i am glad we get to that. talk about how what you did necessitates ethics and i would say love of black people. you come into communities that have been mind for resources and mined for i think personal resources. not just communal resources. you talk but the rules you set for yourself and i think they're love ruled but the ethics you set for yourself going into places that were mined. >> i told myself, start doing
preliminary research knives. good the new york public lie prayer system and research the communities before you talk to them. don't just waste their team and ask them rudimentary questions. you don't know these people and you're going to the south. so it's like, reach out to them first before you travel. reach out to them months before you travel and say, hi, i'm so and so, this who is i am, this is my website. this is my publisher and this is the book deal so you know this isn't a reduce -- a reus. and i spoke to them on the phone. anytime record them i showed the recorder right in front of me. put it right on the table so they know it's recording and they would see me when i turn it off and when i shut it off. the thing is, but the ethics is that you have to be very careful with black people, especially the themes i cover. it's traumatic to talk about. so anytime i had a conversation with them, or that we were at a
restaurant, near the water, and somebody pulled up issue always made sure i go to the back door of the conversation. i may not ask you head on how many acres did you lose? what happened to this cousin what was lynched? i start by asking them their name. state your nail. where they're from. their parents, tell me what life was like here, and maybe how it's changed and then that's when the stories start to really manifest themselves on their on. if you go portals of entry. i always tell my students many ways through which to enter a story. the architecture of memory. go through in door or window that can open and you can see an interior life you wouldn't get otherwise. so take multiple steps before these people start talking to you. make sure they know who you are, and i also say, that even though
i am black i can be seen as part to the establishment, i live in new york, work with a traditional publisher and i could be seen that's enemy. and i also think what happened is that i'm a young woman. i'm a woman. so i'm a woman, i'm bossy, tall, and i have a -- people tell me i don't have a good face. have a disarming smile and put a people at ease because i didn't come with a whole team and camera crew. i had people with me when i was talking to people, liaisons who knew people in the communities but when you're a tall, young with women a charming smile and all she has is a recorder and a small little purse, what can i do? >> i know what you're saying. do you feel like any people you met -- some of this is leading
questions. do you see that people you met were actually still a bit not sure of how close to let you in? >> oh, yeah. oh, yeah. all the time. i mean, there were older black men, you know what i'm saying, want to know what is this information going to be used for. will say this, not a single person i spoke to that is in my book wanted to have a pseudonym. >> let them know. >> i thought that was incredible. so any of you who buy my book, i urge you to look in the acknowledgment section because anybody that i spoke to did not say do not put my name . in some people risked their live to show me certain things. if they put a pseudonym how would their deskin dents find them? -- descendents find them. i was thankful. >> interviewing people and i was interviewing people who had done all sorts of abusive shit but
they were make sure when you describe me let them know i use to wear guests. >> i just want to let people hear these people speak as much as possible. i tell you how i feel. i will explain the best i can about the stuff. that's a hard part for me. i realized how detached i was front the land when i couldn't name simple things. we drive past acre and i couldn't tell you species of trees. so often times when i would get back holm i would look um pictures and do facial work because i would roach out to people or google illinoiss to say what is the name of this tree so i can describe it. >> you haven't been able to sit in what it means for this book
and this version of morgan jerkins to be out in world yes. talk about the anxiety of releasing this book in this moment very the anxiety creating a book precovid. >> for me, i'm just glad i got the book done. i've said that was so much to fear my book would get canceled because the records were not coming. so many loose ends by dealing with black ancestors i did not think was going to come together and i did not expect for him to come out during lockdown or after the george floyd protests happen, which is eerie in terms of timing. not many people know this public side of me. they know me as intensely personal, write about -- they're not looking to me, this is
researching now, and it's like, well, i can say the short answer was like, hey, i'm a gemini and as long as i have a career you'll see different types of styles coming from my body of work. for as long as i can get another book deal you'll see many different faces. but for me it's anxious because it's this like -- have the privilege and the blessing of bag black female artist who was given the ability to try. and that's what i tell people all the time. so many black female artist just want get the chance to endeavor, innovate to make these resolute solutions but to endeavor to make a dig at something, to excavate something and i tell people all the time i had the privilege of having a become deal that allowed flow do this research. cost me somewhere close to $10,000 to $15,000 to do the research and i bad a book deal
that allowed me to do this work. fog their me it's -- i also wanted to expand and people to take another chance on me after this book deal. was so afraid of the sophomore slump. debuted on the "new york times" best seller. was 25 years old. i will not be able to excavate people like that again? and so far i feel like -- in terms of the reception if hey been getting, it's been very overwhelming. i cried last week. i was just if i can get some type of coverage i'd be happy but the type of coverage i've gotten for this book i feel like is enough writer would dream to have and this exceeded my expectations. >> i just feel like we need to make sure people understand the
political integrity of a black woman wandering. the expectation -- is not that black women and black girls wander. so you let people know from the jump i'm wandering in strange lands, and what i think it's interesting you place yourself in the title, a daughter of the great migration and it sounds like you're also saying in the book, and here i was -- you also are the daughter of spirits. like spirituality and spirits seemed to guide you a lot in this book. >> yes. >> talk about that. >> like i said i'm a christian. i grew up pentecostal. they're very ecstatic, emotional, superstitious, and like i said, like before, it's palpable in the south. it's heavy. it's heavy.
there's just so much there wasted through the air -- through the air, in tandem with the mugginess of the heat and her to dry climate of oklahoma. you can feel it. there's so much to parse through and i knew i was being protected because there were certain times where i should have get gotten hurt for the ways i went, nothing but a pocketbook, cellphone, recorder and a prayer. if i had to do my research again, i'm not going lie, i probably would have carried a weapon. probably would have carried gun or taken a self-defense class because if was just there. to this day i'm like, hough did i do that? and i know i was protected. no one could tell me otherwise. >> i feel that. reiterate, get you questions in here. want to make sure you get a chance to actually speak to
morgan, too. somebody here wrote -- oh, sarah gonsales. so, again, one of the things i really was interested in talking about is like when i'm in harlem, i can feel the south. i don't know if can feel my particular south, me people of the deep mississippi south. i can feel the ethos of the south but i wonder if new york and your new york needs more south, needs more black american southernisms, more. i know they already exist but i wonder if there would be even more. >> always can be more. for me like i looked at -- i used to live on little senegal so when i stepped out my building i used to hear nothing but french, i think but sill video ya and jacob -- sylvia and jacob and soul food restaurants but always needs to be more and
i think it's even more crucial now because of the rapid gentrification happening. always need more south. not just in new york, new jersey where i'm from, new england, we always need more. >> thinks likes a fucking cake. i love the south. this is from -- what was your mother's reaction to your interest in pursuing your father's roots? apprehensive but what you might up cover, the things you would be left to reconcile together. >> my mother was like go ahead. my mother has always been supportive about my family tree. what is interesting, i don't think i told her this but i wrote in the book when i was born, my dad called me the milkman's baby and i thought it was because if was always light. that's how he used it. but then when i would hear it
from other people it was like because you don't know who your father is and i thought, heat not true and put me in a lot of shame. then i started to read tony morrison and the main character riz name is milkman dead and he goes to find his roots. when he researched my father's line i learned 0 about an earlier ancestors, and he had two families, just like my father, only on this side one side was on the bayou, on this side. the other was on the other side. and when i told my cousin she said he was definitely the milkman and when she said that i was like, i am the milkman's baby. i have a diverse overflowing tree. complicated, knotty, beautiful. and i'm luck you have parents who supported me. i reached out it and showed me i
have just as much of a standing in my mother's family and my father's family. so when you say the question of, like, what did i have to left to reconcile together, i wasn't looking for reconciliation, just looking for revelation. >> let them know. >> sometimes you can't reconcile everything. sometimes you night not have 100% of the full truth. i have to have something to pass on to my children. i hope this book can be a document and blessing for. the. all i wanted to do was endeavor. >> i love it. this person says, i love -- ordered the book. the second i finished reading it eye. 50 pages in and loving it. did you share portions of the book baited on interview with the people before it was published. >> sure did. every single thing i wrote i sent to them and said, you can look at it and i also asked them
do you want your name published or like a pseudonym? and they all looked at it and they all -- and they -- some even thanked me, for letting. the have a look and they didn't want to change anything and they were thankful. thank you for telling my story like this. never had somebody tell my story like this. i was fortunate enough to get an excerpt in "time" magazine of a black woman who was the first responder to the l.a.p.d. for the watts riot and i had an excerpt in "the new york times" but a man on hiltonhead and both people were crying when i told them about this, and then i realized this is the work i do. it's the bring black people's stories to the forefront and that type of response is invaluable to me. >> i'm old as fuck now. >> come on. >> somebody was like, when did that come sunset i was like that was just eight years ago but i was like 30, and eight years ago
you were a baby almost. but it's amazing you wrote this book. it seems like it didn't take that long. >> well, it felt long but, no, i announced the book deal a couple weeks before hi first book came out to early january 2018, and it got published, summer 2020. >> all right. knick coal says how can we make genealogy more accessible in it's an expensive and labor intensive endeavor especially for black people. >> needs to be funds available for sure. as i mentioned before it was 10 to $15,000 to do this type of work. know for a fact that ancestry.com have different types of subscription models you can buy into archives.com is another one. as far as genealogy, look for the oldest people in your family, ask them where were they born and if they were been in a town other than the one you're
in, ask them why they moved and that's where you can find about their families and all that. but as far as genealogy, many different chapters in different states, afro american genealogy, there's not one in mississippi that i found which is crazy but there's in tennessee and so i believe there needed to be fund available for people like who don't have any certified background, just start to try and endeavor. >> right. they come in -- questions coming. i want to make sure we get everybody. did you ever feel conflicted about putting people's intimate stories in the book, feel a sense of detachment is a if your in the role anthropologist and did you feel the people you talked to identified with. the. >> i didn't feel conflicted about putting people residents
personal stories into the book because the book is so personal. had to realize i had a personal stake. when i first started to write the first few drafts of the book i did not put my family story. i didn't even interview them. wanted to create a author tatetive observer and i realized because of the work -- you don't have to be a distant observer. you can journal and chronicle and be subjective at the same time. so i didn't feel conflicted because they gave me their consent, talking about it, they saw me record them. showed them what i was writing and i learned that it is okay to merge and document when it comes to black people because a lot of our lives are fantastic and i don't mean that in a super human way. so many ways in which we were meant to not survive and we still have. and i didn't feel as conflicted when i put in my family's story and i found that anchor and showed how we're all in constant dialogue with each other.
>> this question says, dismantle shame, inawayed and culturally placed on you. why is the work of disman telling shame necessary? >> because i think about all the ways there were these, like, meanings described on my body i didn't put there. and think how when i -- i give shame back, not only to show other people, i was here, i exist on this earth, and this is the way i was conditioned and why i need to work my way out because all i want to be is free. what i mean free i don't just mean legally free. i mean the way to live autonomously, however i choose to do it, up abashedly and i think -- unabashedly. i used to carry a lot of shame so writing is a way to up pack
and scrutinize and a way to release. >> i have a question about shame. people ask me about shame and i don't get to ask anybody else about it. do you feel like there are things that -- i'm with you. i'm with you about trying to get to the root of the shame and hopefully lifting that shit off of us and as an artist, untapping -- detangling it in the arts. do you feel -- there is any sort of shame that is general ative for you, that actually protects you from experiences you might not be protected from. >> now that is -- i have never gotten that answer before. i think my mom actually was in this chapter, would probably say, yes. i want to say yes but i don't know if it's shame. maybe it's admission like a warning. a lot of times i would be
taught, you don't know people like that, or don't let anybody -- it would come in the way of superstition. i'm not sure like shame but i feel like when i think of shame, devalue myself or suppress my intuition but i will say in terms of admonition and warning, absolutely. absolutely. >> i want to make sure we get them all, very has two questions. one big props for your chapter on water, and black folks, trace can back the history and did you do sun judgmentat research on generational trauma and she says, i found out when i was seven i had other siblings. did this book help you protest that part of your personal journey. >> generational trauma. when it comes to holocaust
survivors and their children. that's something that she has written about. and a post traumatic slave disorder which is somebody -- two individuals i suggest you should research and also the genetics period, want to know how generational trauma shows up that's a great thing to look at. a book helped me process by learning about other siblings, yes, definitely. i was a little insecure of my father's family tree andlashing without the fathers they preceded him and i thought i'm right where i belong. >> all right. kent williams says, how might one overcome family resistance and/or disinterest to genealogically research. my older relatives have stonewalled me.
>> i'm like to you have your name? if you have their name know where they were been -- you have an estimate of where they lived, or their birth dates, go ancestry.com. if you just got something, of those details you can start filling the pieces, and if you don't have your older relatives, ask their children. ask their children's children. go the next person down. ask their sibling. any way you can fine -- find that back door, that open window. always work around. >> work around. work around. i think the work-around is connected this other question which is do you swear by a writing routine and a schedule or doves writing and editing come easy. >> it depends. i tell writers all the time you do not need to write all day long. a lot of us don't have the ability to write all day long.
where is your stride? my stride is early morning. you can talk to me about anything from the hours of 6:30 a.m. to like noon. so that's usually when i write, i is in the early morning. and i -- because of the protests that was happening, i think you know, it was -- i was up until 2:00 in the morning and then i would go to bed and wake up at 7:00 it and was still cropping and inhad to download an app -- called self-control and you talk about certain site outside don't want to go to and you can't recertain it. you put three hours it won't allow you until the three hours i up. so i edit at night. when it comes to writing i write in the early morning, mid-morning. >> okay.
he morning, the holes in the screen seem bigger in me morning, too. >> and the regular time people still getting ready. things aren't popping up yet. that's the perfect time to be like i'm just going to jump in and do this before i start interacting with people on twitter. >> this one is -- a ped -- the mix 0678 memoir and historical writing is so powerful. as writer and history teacher i'm energized by people writing their open personal community history. wonder if you have advice for doing this work with youth? >> tell them to write stuff down and i'm not adjusting but on the internet. write that stuff down. ask your students to -- they've were going to say the narrative about themselves what would they stay in traditions they had, what are their siblings him ins, their parents names and then
say, how about assignments? give me some facts, research what was that town like found out of my ma terrible graph grew up in newtonville. i found out that was a town created by free slaves. so to ask -- ask them, research the town in which you're from. when it comes to working with youth, i figured one thing like to do is list teaching which may soon -- should people just need confidence. sometimes young people just need to realize what they have to say matters. it's very easy to feel insignificant, especially as a teenager when you're on your own. when you tell students to do this type of historical writing is to let them know that their life is in a larger social fabric in american history.
their individual life. and that it is important and if someone is going to be looking for them one day to make sense of the incident happening right now. and once you start to encourage them that what they have to say maries and it is going to matter to someone. that is when you -- that is when the flood happens and memory happens and then you dock with the later part how to narrativize it and structure it. you say what they say matters they'll start to open up. >> this book it is literally a how-to and a lot of of us teachers talk but narrativizing the encounter, students want to talk but the read this research here, the want to place research and writing i tell them narrativize the encounter. talk but the encounter with the thing -- this is what you do over and over again.
you narrativize the encounter with family, strangers, rangers, with elements, with books. i've been thinking but friendship in this moment. the last question -- i have one more question. what are the family myths that unraveled and ulearned were not true? >> it's weird. what was the old history i discard and realizedded had some voracity. there was no family myth i did not couch that didn't have very varsity to it and that was with report to my mother's side of the family saying we had cherokee ties and that was something that was very difficult to unpack. the relations between blackness and indigenousness in this country everybody black family says they have indian in them but then i actually spoke to
scholars and including tia miles who was contributed to the 1619 project who also spent here life, and i asked her, are all ourselves grandparents under this collective dilution when the same tribes originated from the south, too and they owned slaves. she was like, no, they're not. they're not. if they're not all lying, how die make sense of that? and i'm not going to say anything but a i won't spoil it. >> please read the book. i've been think but friendship, radical friendships a lot. my relationship with books. as young person books were not my friend, seemed like stodgy old folks, and i had to read but reading thing become during pandemic felt like a rigorous loving friendship.
i'm not trying to reduce your book. but if you go along with me for a second and and you see this as a complicated creation of a friend who might walk with different people. this shi to walked with me and help me wake up and help me stay awake and help me want to push my open work the way i think radical friendship does. how would you describe this book if it were a friend and what do you want this book/friend to do for readers? >> man. i will say this. i wanted readers to feel like friends for me. i'll say that. because i was alone in so many different areas and wanted to bring people -- what it was doing to me intellectually and emotionally. simultaneously. when i think but this book, this book is my gift, for my family. for my future children. so they know that they never have to question they're space and their claim to this american landscape. they can trace their an sees
stores back 300 years prior to some smarts of louisiana is that is part of the united states. they can trace their family back that far. that's blessing for me. from this book, what i want it to be is a document. can't be the end all be all obviously because my first book wasn't. i want people to see that the cycles that happen. black people want to move and the backlash, whether it's state violence or land displacement, cultural, erasure, these things keep happening. forso for issue in that has an interest in african-american history or american history in generalization if anyone has a history reparations, anybody -- whoa do these things keep happening, not understanding the centuries old legacy, then this book is for you. this book become he you friend. when you think of radical
possibilities i see this as this book for me means so much because it's my baby and also feels like dish want people to feel the pulse when they go to these states and see the blood and understand that past and present will keep converging if we do not reckon with the magnitude of the devastation that has been brought to african-american families since the beginning of this country, but also the beauty and the triumph in spade of all these things that separate us through time and distance law and statutes we're still here. trop mat mic; that's it. i want to thank the strand for beingen incredible lover of books and morgan thank you for doing shit i could never do and i'm inspired to do. you blessed us. i know it was a legacy back for
your family but you blessed us so much. >> i'm such a fan of this man. thankful he had time for me. thank you to the book store for having me and thank you all for all the people that tuned in. i hope it was interesting you get wandering in a strange land. >> thank you all. >> welcome to long island lit fest event we comedian jutey gold, talk about her book "yes i can say that." before we get started a big thank you to boo