By Maya FernandezI have always believed I’m Black. Both of my parents are Black, the majority of my immediate family identifies as Black, so essentially, I am Black. While race was a continuous topic of discussion in my household, colorism—discrimination or prejudice based on skin color—was left unattended. Similar to racism, colorism establishes a hierarchy in which lighter skin is treated with higher regard than darker skin. My father, a cultural proficiency consultant, made sure my sisters and I understood how society would see us as black women, but somehow forgot to give us the tools to navigate a world also plagued by colorism. It wasn’t until I stepped outside the comfort of my front door that I was fully able to grasp the concept of colorism.
By Christian Coleman: Renowned author and MacArthur fellow Octavia E. Butler would have been sixty-nine this year, and maybe two or three books deep into writing a new series. Ten years have passed since her death, and in that time, the Huntington Library became the resting place for her archives. Her archives contain, among many things, drafts of an abandoned third entry in her Parables epic and the sketch of a sequel to Fledgling, the story of a genetically engineered vampire. Poring over the notes for novels that could have been and rereading her bio, in which she wrote that she remembers being “a ten-year-old writer who expects someday to be an eighty-year-old writer,” I feel the ten years she has been gone.
By Tom Hallock | Now we get to feel what it’s like to live in extreme weather. The 16’’ of snow we just received, on top of the 80” we already had—most of which arrived in the past three weeks—has changed the way we live and work. We are experiencing the world we’ve created by our collective failure to address climate change and invest in public transportation. Our offices have been closed 5 of the past 15 workdays.
Beacon’s Senior Editor Alexis Rizzuto and Associate Publisher Tom Hallock talk about their experiences at the People’s Climate March and why climate change is fast becoming one of the most important issues of our time.
By Tom Hallock | I first became manager of Coolidge Corner’s Paperback Booksmith (now the Brookline Booksmith) back in 1978, just four years after Judge W. Arthur Garrity’s historic decision to integrate the Boston School District through the “forced busing” of students, as it later became known. It was a time when the fallout over that decision was still shaking the communities of Boston, and a time I revisited when Beacon first published Michael Patrick MacDonald’s All Souls, a powerful account of what it was like to be a young man growing up in Southie during the time when busing came to that neighborhood.
"Are we witnessing the death of Black prophetic fire in our time?" asks Cornel West in the introduction to 'Black Prophetic Fire,' one of three new book projects Beacon Press is planning with him.
Every year in September, people across the country celebrate Banned Books Week to raise awareness about the problem of censorship. In 2012 alone, there were 464 challenges to books reported to the American Library Association's Office of for Intellectual Freedom. Common complaints include content being unsuitable for an age group, the use of offensive language, sexually explicit material, violence, homosexuality, and religious viewpoints. At Beacon, we support the freedom to read, so we asked staff to recommend some of their favorite banned and challenged books. Read on to find out how they were influenced by these books. Happy Banned Books Week!
By Tom Hallock | Today is Jessie Bennett’s last day at Beacon Press, and I want to take the opportunity to thank her in the space she created. Jessie came to Beacon six years ago, answering the call for someone to fill “a temporary, grant-funded position” to create a blog for the press. In my new hire letter I wrote, “There is a possibility that the position will be funded for a second year.” Thanks to her work, it was funded for a second and then a third, by which time we had come to feel that both the blog and its editor were essential to the work of the press.