We did it! We made it to the finish line of another plague year! Just a few more weeks left. Even though it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, uncork some bubbly to celebrate. We earned it. Our big wish for the new year: no more COVID variants. Delta, Mu, Omicron . . . Worst. Upgrades. Ever. Before we slam the door on 2021, we need to applaud and thank our authors and staff for the blog posts they wrote for the Broadside.
Welcome to Beacon Broadside, the blog of Beacon Press!
Want to receive all of our new posts by email? Subscribe below.
By James Baldwin | I have often wondered, and it is not a pleasant wonder, just what white Americans talk about with one another. I wonder this because they do not, after all, seem to find very much to say to me, and I concluded long ago that they found the color of my skin inhibiting. This color seems to operate as a most disagreeable mirror, and a great deal of one’s energy is expended in reassuring white Americans that they do not see what they see.
By Masha Rumer | As the year draws to an end, it’s a reminder of the new coping skills just about everyone has acquired because of the pandemic. In the case of immigrants, the shortages also hurled us right back into our childhoods. Many of us we were raised on stories of famines and wartime starvation, tempered by breadlines and diluted sour cream, particularly in the former Soviet Union, where I’m from. Nothing went to waste: neither old yarn nor chicken skins nor beet greens. We brought this hardiness with us to the US.
A Q&A with Cynthia B. Dillard | The inspiration for this book? I think it is the other way round. This book has inspired me. It has literally been writing me all of my life! It is the story of what happens when teachers have the opportunity and the audacity to (re)member their stories and their culture. It is about how the awesome power that experiences with the African continent opens a space for Black folks and fills in the blank of our often anemic education. I was inspired by all of this to write the book I wished I could have read as I was growing up: As a Black woman, as a teacher, as a leader.
President Biden sure is making up for lost time. At this year’s tribal nations summit, skipped over the previous four years by you know who, he signed an executive order for the US to take steps to protect tribal lands and address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native Americans. He proposed a ban on federal oil and gas leases on the sacred tribal site of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. And in his official White House proclamation for Native American Heritage Month, he listed more commitments the country will make to Indian Country.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker | The Red Power movement was just one aspect of the social revolution that swept across the American social landscape in the 1960s and ’70s, paralleling other ethnic nationalisms, women’s liberation, the antiwar movement, and the emergence of a new, rebellious, and predominantly white middle-class counterculture. Disenchanted with the conservative values of their parents’ generation and witnessing the increasing degradation of the environment, countercultural youth looked to other cultures for answers to existential questions they perceived as unavailable in mainstream American society.
By Pamela D. Toler | Cathay Williams (more or less 1844–1892) was the first African American woman known to have served in the United States Army—a two-year stint in which she passed as a man. Born a slave near Independence, Missouri, she was a “house girl” on the Johnson plantation in Cole County, near the Missouri capital of Jefferson City, when the Civil War began. After General Nathaniel Lyons’s troops captured Jefferson City, which had become a rebel stronghold, the Eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry claimed Williams and other escaped or displaced slaves as “contrabands.” She traveled with the regiment for the rest of the war, working as a laundress.
By Christian Coleman | You know who ranks supreme on our list of national treasures? Poet, educator, and activist Sonia Sanchez! Know this if you haven’t known it already. Ms. Sanchez has just won another lifetime achievement award, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Two years ago, she won the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Award. The Gish Prize is given each year to “a highly accomplished artist from any discipline who has pushed the boundaries of an art form, contributed to social change, and paved the way for the next generation.” This has Ms. Sanchez written all over it.
By Laura Erickson-Schroth and Laura A. Jacobs | The belief that transgender people are recognizably distinct from nontransgender people assumes that there is something we can pick out about a transgender person’s clothing, body shape, or speech that “gives them away.” It assumes that trans people never escape their “essential” gender assigned at birth—that they are never “really” a part of the gender with which they identify.
By Sheryll Cashin | Good afternoon. As a law professor, author, and former White House staffer in the Clinton Administration, I have spent nearly three decades grappling with the issue of US residential segregation—its origins, persistence, and calamitous effects in producing racial and economic inequality. My most recent book, “White Space, Black Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality,” reflects these decades of examination and analysis. It argues that we have a system of residential caste, in which government over-invests and excludes in affluent white spaces, and disinvests, contains, and preys on people in high poverty Black neighborhoods.
You’ve heard the news. Now’s the time to jump on your holiday book buying. Supply chain delays are affecting many industries, including the book industry. Some new books you’ve been waiting for may not make it to bookstores in time for the holiday, and hot sellers may be sold out by December and not reprinted in time. On top of that, what’s thrown a wrench into the works is—wait for it—the pandemic. Who saw that plot twist coming? (We’d probably be in less of this mess if everyone got vaccinated, but hey, let’s not digress.) So, gifts you would typically start buying in December may not be available.
A Q&A with Ruth Behar | So much has changed in the last twenty-five years that sometimes we forget how different were the paradigms we worked with before. Anthropologists were taught that they had to approach their research from a distance. This meant silencing the story of your entanglement with a specific set of people, in a specific place, in a specific moment in time, and how knowledge gets produced in this messy, haunting, unrepeatable process.
By Philip Warburg | The Better Buildings Act, now making its way through the Massachusetts legislature, is a monumental step toward curbing fossil fuel use by larger commercial and public buildings. Yet even as we focus on these major carbon polluters, we cannot lose sight of the need to bring clean energy solutions to residential communities, particularly those that have been unable to tap the solar energy that shines on their rooftops.
By Christian Coleman | Break out the confetti and the champagne! We’re having a double celebration for civil rights activist Desmond Meade! First, he has been named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow! Secondly, it’s the first-year anniversary of his book, “Let My People Vote: My Battle to Restore the Rights of Returning Citizens.” The MacArthur Foundation selected him to join this year’s class of Fellows because of his work to restore voting rights to 1.4 million formerly incarcerated citizens in Florida and to remove barriers to their full participation in civic life.
A Q&A with W. J. Herbert | A woman meditates on her impending death and the crisis her species has created in the original version of this manuscript which contained only fossil and specimen poems. “Do these creatures ever answer your speaker’s questions?” asked friend and fellow poet Tim Carrier. They don’t, I told him. He said: “But your readers need a way in.” I wasn’t sure what he meant but, in my heart, I knew he was right: we need to care deeply about the speaker.
My degree is actually in film, but I realized only afterward that it wasn’t what I wanted for myself, so I did what any sensible person would do—I street performed for a little while in Baltimore, playing bucket drums. Wanting something more stable, I luckily got hired on as a manager at a Books-A-Million. The rest is history, I guess. I just fell in love with books, the industry, and the people in it. My first taste of publishing was during an internship at MIT Press where I got to work in a few different departments. That affirmed publishing as the right place for me.
By Sumbul Ali-Karamali | In this age of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion movements, twenty years after the tragedy of 9/11, why is it still acceptable to denigrate Muslims and what they believe without any knowledge of what they believe? Why are Muslims judged on the basis of stereotypes and not on facts? And why are we as Americans so reflexively quick to believe the worst of Muslims, given half an opportunity to do so?
This year’s theme for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month is Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope. It invites Hispanic and Latinx communities to reflect on how good our tomorrow can be by holding onto resilience and hope. The following books from our catalog wouldn’t be here without our authors’ sense of hope, be it the hope of a better future embodied in the text or the hope that the book will reach the reader who needs it. In each one, you will experience stories of resilience in the face of seeking justice, of crossing borders and carving out a space for one’s self in an uninviting country, adding to the complexities and contradictions of the United States’ narrative. One of these books is for you. Happy Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month!
By Christian Coleman | It was a long wait before Gayl Jones broke her years of silence. When Toni Morrison first discovered her, she said “no novel about any Black woman could ever be the same after this” upon reading the manuscript for “Corregidora.” It was published in 1975 when Jones was twenty-six. She followed up her debut novel with “Eva’s Man” and “The Healing.” But then after “Mosquito,” which came out in 1999, we wouldn’t hear from one of the greatest literary writers of the twentieth century for twenty-two years.
By Joan Murray | Last week, I got a call from a stranger. She was an elder at a church planning a remembrance ceremony for the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and asked if I’d read a poem. It was a poem I wrote on an Amtrak train four days after the attacks, and when I read it on NPR four days later, it became something of an anthem. Thousands of people from all over the world wanted copies: A factory owner in the Midwest wanted to read it to his workers; a Maryland police sergeant wanted to read it to her officers before they went on duty; a Canadian physician wanted to read it at a conference. People said they needed the poem.