From a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author and poet comes a galvanizing meditation on the power of art and culture to illuminate America's unresolved problem with race.
*Named a Most Anticipated Title of 2022 by TIME magazine, New York Times, Bustle, and more*
In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 and following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Elizabeth Alexander—one of the great literary voices of our time—turned a mother's eye to her sons’ and students’ generation and wrote a celebrated and moving reflection on the challenges facing young Black America. Originally published in the New Yorker, the essay incisively and lovingly observed the experiences, attitudes, and cultural expressions of what she referred to as the Trayvon Generation, who even as children could not be shielded from the brutality that has affected the lives of so many Black people.
The Trayvon Generation expands the viral essay that spoke so resonantly to the persistence of race as an ongoing issue at the center of the American experience. Alexander looks both to our past and our future with profound insight, brilliant analysis, and mighty heart, interweaving her voice with groundbreaking works of art by some of our most extraordinary artists. At this crucial time in American history when we reckon with who we are as a nation and how we move forward, Alexander's lyrical prose gives us perspective informed by historical understanding, her lifelong devotion to education, and an intimate grasp of the visioning power of art.
This breathtaking book is essential reading and an expression of both the tragedies and hopes for the young people of this era that is sure to be embraced by those who are leading the movement for change and anyone rising to meet the moment.
Poet and memoirist Alexander (The Light of the World) expands on her New Yorker essay in this vigorous and inspiring reflection on how Black art reckons with the traumas of racism and racial violence. Contending that the "war against Black people feels as if it is gearing up for another epic round," Alexander highlights how Black poets, artists, authors, and musicians have "continuously articulated the problem, the hope, and the possibility of America." She lucidly analyzes poems by Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton, and Clint Smith, among others, and describes the political battle over historian John Hope Franklin's eighth-grade textbook, Land of the Free, written in 1966, as an antecedent to today's fights over critical race theory. Elsewhere, Alexander discusses how the "worldview" of African Americans who grew up in the past 25 years has been shaped by the killings of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, George Floyd, and others, and spotlights music videos by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus that "bring together the naturalistic and the visionary" to showcase the "reanimating" power of Black joy and community. By capturing the rich spectrum of Black culture in America, Alexander offers hope and instruction for younger generations. The result is a thought-provoking must-read. Agent: Faith Childs, Faith Childs Literary Agency.