Adult-ish: Literature is a window into society
Audrey Bowers is a junior English education major and writes "Adult-ish" for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Audrey at email@example.com.
It was the end of a long day. A 12-hour day, to be exact. I got home, turned my space heater on, made some hot chocolate and surrounded myself with fuzzy pillows and blankets. It’s my end of an exhausting day ritual. My professor lent me a book to read that morning, and, of course, I wanted to finish it by the next period and return it to her, saying with excitement, “I finished the book!” I could’ve gone to sleep right at that moment. It was 10 p.m., and it would’ve been best if I woke up bright and early and “seized the day.”
Even though I was exhausted, I still had the urge to read this book that I had been looking forward to. I’m glad I did, because I ended up devouring it. In less than two hours, I finished all 208 pages of “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone. The main character of the book is named Justyce, which is no coincidence because justice is exactly what he wants after he is unfairly locked up in jail after attempting to making sure that his white, drunk-at-the-time ex-girlfriend wasn’t going to drive home.
Justyce is a “good” kid. He’s an honors student and is on his way to Yale, yet he cannot seem to shake the idea that black people like himself are not, in fact, treated equally. His classmates have debates about whether or not black people are truly equal around him. He feels frustrated by what is happening to him and people like him, and therefore turns to writing to Martin Luther King Jr. in letters that he addresses “Dear Martin.” In these letters, he questions whether or not he, too, can be like Martin. They’re very heartfelt letters that I believe speak so much to our country’s current condition.
Like Justyce, I am concerned about the way that black people are treated. According to The , 987 people were shot and killed by police, and 1 in 5 of those victims were black. It’s not okay that young men and women of color have to be extra cautious around law enforcement for fear of losing their lives. It’s not fair that they are treated as less intelligent and less human. I also don’t think that it’s okay that Black Lives Matter is a movement that is questioned time and time again and deemed as simply a bunch of “dangerous” riots ran by “good-for-nothing” people.
When people say that black lives matter, they aren’t saying that only black lives matter, or that people of other races don’t matter. They are saying that black lives matter, too. When people try to say that all lives matter, they are blatantly ignoring the injustice and prejudice that black people face on a daily basis. These people are also refusing to acknowledge the privilege that comes along with their whiteness.
I, for one, think that Martin Luther King Jr. would be completely behind Black Lives Matter. His dream was, essentially, all about black lives mattering just as much as white peoples’. Many people argue that it was simply about unity, but unity cannot happen until black people have the same rights and privileges as white people. It’s been nearly two centuries since slavery ended and about 60 years since Jim Crow ended, but, nevertheless, we have a lot of work to do in order to ensure equality.
This is why I read books about African-American stories and by African-American authors. It is often too easy to become comfortable in my privilege and to be unaware of what is happening to people because of their skin color. By reading books like “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, “Stella by Starlight” by Sharon Draper and “Long Way Down” by Jason Reynolds, my world is expanded far beyond my whiteness. I have a window to peer into so that I know the experiences of people that society would deem as “other.”
Literature has a wonderful way of providing mirrors and windows, knocking down walls and building bridges, ultimately uniting us all as human beings.