Debut novelist Williams takes listeners through an emotional and painful, yet hopeful adolescent journey impacted by internalized racism and abuse
Host: Tomeka M. Winborne
Description: Debut novelist Williams takes listeners through an emotional and painful, yet hopeful adolescent journey impacted by internalized racism and abuse
Runtime: 50:11 minutes
“Debut novelist Williams takes readers through an emotional, painful, yet still hopeful adolescent journey . . . A story that may be all too familiar for too many and one that needed telling.” –Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“With its relatable and sympathetic protagonist, complex setting, and exceptional emotional range, this title is easy to recommend.” –Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Genesis Begins Again
by Alicia D. Williams
Alicia D. Williams is the author ofGenesis Begins Again, a deeply sensitive and powerful novel that tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn how to love herself. There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see.
When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence. What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight—Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on.
But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show. But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What's there to know about Alicia D? Well, that depends on who you ask.
If you ask kindergartners, they'd tell you:
If you ask her middle schoolers, they'd surely say:
While all of these may be true, there are a few more points to add . . . Alicia D is a teacher in Charlotte, NC. She is the proud mother of a brilliant college student. Her love for education stems from conducting school residencies as a Master Teaching Artist of arts-integration. Alicia D infuses her love for drama, movement, and storytelling to inspire students to write.
Did we say drama? Why yes, Alicia graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She's performed in commercials, off-off Broadway, and even Charlotte's very own children's theater.
And like other great storytellers, she made the leap into writing--and well, her story continues. Alicia D loves laughing, traveling, and Wonder Woman.
Alicia Williams is a graduate of the MFA program at Hamline University. An oral storyteller in the African-American tradition, she is also a kindergarten teacher who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Genesis Begins Again is her debut novel.
In conversation, NPR’s Ailsa Chang sat down with Angie Thomas, the acclaimed author of The Hate U Give, and the movie’s director George Tillman Jr., to discuss how the book and film connected with their own personal experiences.
The Hate U Give tells the story of a teenage girl, Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), who is a part of two worlds: the poor, predominantly black neighborhood where she resides, and the white, affluent prep school that she attends. Her worlds are turned upside down when she witnesses the fatal police shooting of her childhood friend, an unarmed black male teenager. Following the tragic shooting, Starr is drawn towards a life of activism to stand up for her friend, who is called a “thug” and other misinformed names by the media, and to protest the wrongful actions of police brutality.
George Tillman Jr., the director of the film, spoke with Chang about what it was like to base certain scenes from the movie on actual talks he received growing up. He discussed how emotional it was to bring these scenes to life, particularly because he now has a teenage son himself. “This deals with history,” he said. “This deals with survival and how we can continue to stay on this earth without police brutality or being shot or being killed. You know, this is part of the fear of the African-American community.”
Another significant theme in the book is how Starr navigates between her two worlds, and how she feels an internal pressure to erase her blackness while at her fancy prep school with her white classmates. Certainly, many of us can relate to this uneasy pressure growing up or currently in the workplace, and this double life is actually based on author Angie Thomas’s life experiences.
Growing up, Thomas also lived in a mostly black neighborhood while attending a predominantly white, private college in Mississippi. She described her own experiences as a struggle, and practiced the art of code switching. “I would make myself more presentable I thought. I was careful of how I spoke. I was careful of how much emotion I showed,” Thomas said. “And it was a struggle because so often I was silent on things that mattered to me. And I would experience microaggressions from my classmates, and I was silent about them. I never called out the racism.”. READ MORE........