16 Booklist February 1, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
should also consult Michelle Alexander’s The
New Jim Crow (2010). —Mark Levine
My Brown Baby: On the Joys and Challenges
of Raising African American Children.
By Denene Millner.
Mar. 2017. 272p. Bolden, paper, $16 (9781572842120). 649.
Journalist Millner created the popular and
critically acclaimed website MyBrownBaby.
com in 2008, and this volume collects essays
from the site on a variety of parenting topics,
all aimed at parents of color or parents raising
children of color. The brief essays are grouped
into sections such as “They’ll Wear the Armor:
Black Children and Racism”; “New Motherhood”; “Hair Stories: The Joys, Pains, and
Politics of Black Children’s Kinky Curls”; and
“Mother Love.” Many of them are humorous,
some are profound, and more than a few are
thought-provokingly political. In the essay
“Birthing While Black,” Millner describes the
not-so-subtle ways she was treated differently
in her “posh” Manhattan hospital; in “Black
Boy Swagger, Black Mom Fear,” she discusses
the worries that come every time her teenage
son leaves the house. Millner is a natural, conversational writer, and these bite-size essays
deserve a wide readership. —Rebecca Vnuk
Never Caught: Ona Judge, the
Washingtons, and the Relentless Pursuit
of Their Runaway Slave.
By Erica Armstrong Dunbar.
Feb. 2017. 304p. Atria/37INK, $25 (9781501126390). 973.4.
Ona Judge was born into slavery as the
property of Martha Washington. She became
a favorite house slave, attending to Martha at
all hours of the day. When George Washing-
ton won the presidency, she joined the First
Family in New York and later Philadelphia. At
the time, Pennsylvania law declared that slaves
must be emancipated after six months in the
state. In order to skirt the law, Washington
regularly sent his slaves back to Virginia to
“reset” their six-month clocks and keep them
enslaved. When Martha Washington decided
to give Ona to her daughter as a wedding
present, Ona escaped to New Hampshire.
The Washingtons pursued her for years, refus-
ing to accept that she wanted to be free. In
this narrative history, professor Dunbar ex-
plores the horrific nature of slavery through
the lives of Ona and other slaves in Washing-
ton’s household. Ona’s story provides critical
insights into the experiences of slaves and free
black people in the antebellum period. Never
Caught is an important read for anyone inter-
ested in American history. —Laura Chanoux
YA: YAs interested in American history
will connect with both Dunbar’s nuanced
explorations of difficult subject matter and
Ona’s fascinating life. LC.
By Abeer Y. Hoque.
Feb. 2017. 254p. HarperCollins/360, paper, $16.99
(9789351777007); e-book (9789351777014). 818.
As a Bangladeshi girl who grew up in Ni-
People of Color in the United
geria and then, at 13, immigrated with her
family to suburban Pittsburgh, Hoque was
used to being an outsider. But, as this engross-
ing memoir makes clear, it was never easy. In
Nigeria, she was referred to as an onyocha, a
foreigner, because of her non-African looks.
In America, her classmates made fun of her
accent. More challenges lay ahead: tense rela-
tionships with her parents, academic pressure,
depression, and a suicide attempt that leads
to being committed to a psychiatric ward.
Eventually, she returns to the “home” she
never knew, Bangladesh, visits the classroom
in Nigeria where she memorized the poetry
of William Blake, and learns that all the class-
mates she knew as a young girl have left, too,
for India, England, America, all as part of the
African diaspora. Hoque’s writing is an elegant
mélange of candor and a strange sense of calm-
ness, which she maintains throughout, even
when confronting bewildering cultural shock.
An evocative examination of identity and what
it means to be true to yourself —June Sawyers
YA: YAs will appreciate Hoque’s frank
and eloquent tale of coming-of-age as an
outsider and immigrant. JS.
States: Contemporary Issues in
Education, Work, Communities, Health,
Ed. by Kofi Lomotey.
4v. 2016. 1,986p. illus. ABC-CLIO, $399
America has always had people from different ethnic groups, even
before its official founding.
The nonwhite population
has been treated differently
throughout history, and
ethnic groups have been
treated differently from one
another. This work lumps
all nonwhite ethnic groups
under “people of color” and takes on the challenging task of discussing contemporary issues
related to them. Four volumes are thematically
arranged, making it easier for readers to find
relevant articles in one volume. Each volume
has approximately 50 extended essays followed
by half a dozen responses to contemporary
areas of debate. Each extended essay is cross-referenced and has a list for further reference.
In volume 1, the perspectives are posed as
questions for which a “yes” response and a “no”
response are offered. In the other volumes,
more responses per question are provided, but
these responses are not necessarily opposites.
The essays’ breadth and depth and perspectives’
complexity indicate how rich and challenging
the subject matter of this work is. Volume 1
looks at education; volume 2 focuses on work,
community, and housing; volume 3 explores
health care and wellness; and volume 4 juxta-
poses the lived aspects of migration with the
various immigration laws in the U.S. A work
of this scope is not meant to be exhaustive but
is intended to introduce readers to the vari-
ous factors affecting people of color. From this
perspective, it is an excellent reference that out-
lines contemporary issues and the major fault
lines within these issues. Highly recommend-
ed for upper-high-school and introductory
college courses on race or ethnic groups in the
U.S. —Muhammed Hassanali
YA/C: A timely and appropriate reference
on race for high-school research. RV.
The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The
Story of the African Americans Who
Have Fed Our First Families, from the
Washingtons to the Obamas.
By Adrian Miller.
Feb. 2017. 280p. illus. Univ. of North Carolina, $30
Attorney and food writer Miller opens a
door into a fascinating world that few ever
think about: the White House kitchens. There,
he brings to light a realm shaped by an often-ignored group of African Americans who have
nurtured the first families so they could lead
a nation. From earliest days, African Americans constituted the backbone of the executive
mansion’s kitchens. Initially, cooks were the
president’s property, if he hailed from the
slave-holding South. Kitchen staff grew increasingly professional as the nation’s status
grew and presidents hosted elaborate dinners
befitting a sophisticated world power. Miller
tells about personable cooks, wine stewards,
and maître-d’s who kept the place humming.
There are interesting tidbits of trivia, such as the
fact that as recently as the Eisenhower administration, White House guests were expected to
tip cooks. If an army runs on its stomach, the
commander in chief’s house does no less, making the dedicated work of White House cooks
central to national well-being. A few recipes,
intriguing photographs, and a helpful bibliography supplement the text. —Mark Knoblauch
The Secret Life of Black Aspie.
By Anand Prahlad.
Feb. 2017. 240p. Univ. of Alaska, paper, $21.95
“I want to tell you what it’s been like,
growing up black, in the South, with ASD
(autism spectrum disorder).” Prahlad (a poet,
PhD, and authority on African American
folklore) suspected he had Asperger’s syndrome for decades but was only formally
diagnosed with the disorder
at age 57. As a child, he was
“different.” He cried a lot,
was subject to spells of rage,
believed he was clairvoyant
and witnessing wandering
spirits, suffered from convulsions and asthma, and
often felt overwhelmed and
out of control. Color, both the shade of his
skin and the hues of the spectrum, is a potent
influence on Prahlad because he also has synesthesia (a mingling of the senses), and his
writing sometimes seems hallucinatory. Yet
it is also lyrical and loving, as he shares his
journey from birth in Virginia to life in California to settling in Missouri. As he describes
his religious experiences and marriages, he