Dec. 19 – Clint Smith – How the Word is Passed [Advent Calendar]

The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2021
Advent Calendar
December 19


How the Word is PassedHow the Word Is Passed:
A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

Clint Smith

Hardback: Little, Brown & Co., 2021
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In his first major work of nonfiction, How the Word is Passed, poet, scholar and Atlantic Magazine staff writer Clint Smith seeks out this troubling history to understand the stories America tells itself about who we are through what is remembered. The aegis of the book is this: Smith traveled “to eight places in the United States as well as one abroad to understand how each reckons with its relationship to the history of American slavery.”

As a former educator, with a grandmother who was an educator, Smith comes back to education as the way forward. There is a reason American slavers tried so hard to keep enslaved Blacks uneducated, making teaching an enslaved person to read or write a severe crime. There is a reason Texas tried to obfuscate slavery in textbooks, calling enslaved Africans “happy” and “workers.” There is a reason for the attacks on critical race theory, on anything that teaches the truth of slavery and white supremacy; on anything that connects past injustice to its perpetuation through contemporary social injustice. There is a reason this history is not taught. Education creates knowledge and understanding, which creates a drive for truth, justice, and social change. “But it happened, it really happened,” writes Smith. And without learning the actual history to understand why society is the way it is today, nothing will ever be made right.


*** WATCH an interview with Clint Smith about this book …



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