Where It All Begins
A Body Made Home is a story about a little Black girl who survived. She survived childhood sexual abuse. Education was her means to freedom, freedom to move or leave home. At the same time, Black girl discovers that education, or rather her entry into elite institutions was not always liberatory. Black girl, as she moves into new worlds (from private school in Oakland, boarding school in Wellesley, MA, and Williams College), starts to develop a keen awareness of her double or multiple consciousness’ and that recognition of multiple realities occurring simultaneously causes her a lot of anger. Anger because how could it be that she could go to school and play and return home to a world so different.
In this book, you will read the narrative of a Black girl becoming—how she is disciplined and made into a girl. At the same time, you are also presented with the story of the systematic failures of an American education system.
This is a story posits the question---how is it that a person, a child can be groomed, placed in the most elite institutions, and end up feeling insecure and not so bright at all? Black girl’s search for home becomes an internal search for a holistic relationship to self.
A Body Made Home grapples with my tenuous relationship to both home and body. The notion of home, for Black Americans, home, as in country has always been a fraught proposition, considering many were forced to call this new land home. Home for the Black American has always required ingenuity and radical imaginations.
Home is often imagined as a place of safety, a place where one can return to, a place where one can find themselves a resting place, but for me home didn’t provide those kinds of securities.
This story follows a Black queer literary tradition rooted in a perpetual looking, longing and finally discovery. As Saidiya Hartman noted, “the mother is forever lost,” but this does not have to be the end of life; we have the power to make home and that is what this story about. It, like the works of Gloria Anzaldua, Langston Hughes, and James Baldwin, uses the poetic to analyze our desires for home, stable, and never changing. This book speaks to a broad population and asks the reader to sit with protagonist as she goes on her journey from being born in East Oakland, California, growing up in the height of the crack epidemic with a father who was addicted and incarcerated for much of her childhood. This is not another story of a poor Black kid that makes it out of the hood never looking back, it is rather a story where what Du Bois named as the ultimate conflict of the black American, split strivings, is made manifest in one body, one life, at the same time, this protagonist, Black girl, moves through home life and a separate educational life, that takes her all over the country to some of the most elite educational institutions in the US.