4 out of 4 stars
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Filling in the Black contains powerful and thought-provoking poems that reflect what the author, Joan Kantor, learned about the racial discrimination of African Americans. For Ms. Kantor, George Floyd's story was her tipping point on the ugliness of racism. After the pandemic lockdown, she decided to dive into African-American history to find out the truth and understand why we are where we are. Ms. Kantor groups the poems in the book into two: the poems she wrote before and during her journey to various African-American historical sites. She presents an unflinching perspective stemming from her discoveries about African-American history.
Firstly, I must commend Ms. Kantor for embarking on a quest to see and experience the truth for herself. I agree with her that there's a powerful string connecting the past and the present. I also believe that history can help us make better decisions. Therefore, I appreciate all the poems in this book and admire the author's contribution towards educating us to change our mindsets and say no to racism.
I admire Ms. Kantor's honesty, and I like how she states that she isn't trying to usurp the African-American experience. In one of the poems titled 'Being Honest,' the author informs readers that she is white and only trying to purge herself of the legacy of lies and omissions concerning African-American history. And I especially enjoyed how she showed the role of the family on the mindset of people towards racial discrimination.
What I like most about this book is its theme of hope. Despite excellently portraying the situation of racial discrimination against African Americans and how it affects their growth, Ms. Kantor also relates a message of hope through her poems. In one of my favorite poems, 'Let There Be Light,' the poet recounts her experience in a North Carolina grocery store about the special relationship she witnessed between a black woman and a white teen. I believe the future is bright, but we must not relent in our fight against racism.
Furthermore, the author's poetic talents are praiseworthy, and it's easy to see why she has won so many awards. Her poems are powerful yet relatable and touching. She also expertly weaves words into beautiful expressions that make her poems vivid and intriguing. More so, I enjoyed the pictures of some historical places and works of art in the book, especially the sculpture by Kwame Akoto-Bamfo at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery. They made the book even more appealing.
I enjoyed all the poems in this book and found them relevant, insightful, and eye-opening, and I only found one typo throughout the book. The only qualm I had with the Kindle edition I read was that some poems spilled into new pages without exhausting the space on the original page. Other than that, I didn't dislike anything about this inspiring publication. Therefore, I happily rate Filling in the Black a well-deserved four out of four stars. I highly recommend the book to readers interested in eye-opening and insightful poems about Black-American history and its impact on the people.
Filling in the Black
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