Category Archives: Racism

Boy, Snow, Bird, Sweetbitter and The Colour Purple (Book Reviews)


Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.5 stars)

All of Helen Oyeyemi’s works are on my radar now. Boy, Snow, Bird was a really pleasant surprise. I went into the story not knowing anything about the plot, and I’d recommend that. It is by no means a retelling of Snow White. There are some fairy tale elements though (which I’m a sucker for). It’s hard to talk about this novel and avoid spoilers. In brief, the story is set during the 1950s in racially segregated America. Boy Novak runs away from an abusive father in the beginning and finds herself in a town called Flax Hill, she builds a life for herself there and meets a man named Arturo Whitman. I loved Oyeymi’s writing style: it is whimsical, magical and explores themes like race and identity. I enjoyed the female characters and how they interact with each other. Pick this one up if you haven’t already!

Interesting article in The Guardian about the themes in Boy, Snow, Bird:

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler: ⭐⭐

One star for descriptions of food and how restaurants work.

Another star for guilty pleasure sex scenes and bad boy (welp, I forgot his name *quickly googles*) Jake the bartender.

That’s literally it. I did not enjoy this plotless drivel.

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was such a wonderful read. I’ve wanted to get to The Colour Purple since forever. It tells the story of a Black woman called Celie during the 1930s, in a series of letters she writes to God and interspersed are some letters she receives from her sister Nettie. Celie is sexually abused by her father and, after the death of her mother, is sent away to marry a man to look after his children. She strikes up an unlikely bond and friendship with her daughter in law Sofia and her husbands ex-wife Shug.

A little later on, Celie and Shug are involved in a lesbian relationship. It was realistic, and I loved how Celie’s letters are filled with grammatical errors and spellings. Alice Walker has a way of writing: she made the story very believable and real. It’s a classic. I can’t recommend it enough! I plan on listening to the audiobook soon.


The Concept of a “Social Thriller” in Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives

Whilst reading The Stepford Wives I was reminded of Get Out, a film I’d previously watched and absolutely loved. Lo and behold I find out Jordan Peele was indeed inspired by the 1972 novel by Ira Levin, which was then made into a film and shot to cult classic status [1]. It is interesting, to say the least, because The Stepford Wives and Get Out are dressed up as horror/thriller stories but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Jordon Peele labelled Get Out as a “social thriller… inspired by movies that are creepy but humanity is the creepiest part at the centre of it [2].” It intelligently critiques ‘Post-racial’ America – which is the idea that prejudice and discrimination no longer hold sway. Cough. In the movie Chris, who is black, is dating a white woman named Rose. Such a delicate name. Spoiler alert: Rose lures unsuspecting black men to her family so they can brainwash and periodically transfer white people brains into black bodies. Why, you ask? So that white people can live forever in genetically-gifted strong bodies.

The white characters in Get Out are not repulsed by blackness, no. They admire and envy instead [3]. The film doesn’t jump straight to the chase like I did. It gradually transforms into a dark and creepy story. Peele was also inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the opening scene invokes the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Get Out paints insensitive white middle-class liberals as the true villains. Chris is visibly uncomfortable in every scene, at every insidious comment. Daniel Kaluuya is a fantastic actor and  the film score was brilliantly crafted to boot [4].

The Stepford Wives can also be interpreted to revel a hidden meaning. Socially aware and politically driven, Ira Levin’s story is about a family who moves from the city to a suburb called Stepford. Joanna, our main protagonist, finds the housewives of Stepford to be rather odd. They are uniformly good-looking, Barbie-like, and spend all their time cooking and cleaning. Turns out, the husbands of Stepford run a secret society and transform their wives into submissive robots.


And Joanna is next. She fears there is something in the water that makes all the housewives so but it is soon revealed, evil lurks in her own house, and her own husband. Joanna is fiercely independent, sexually confident, ambitious – the product of second-wave feminism – and is frightened at the possibility of losing power and control. Ira Levin is also pointing fingers at modern commercialism and technology, which can be easily manipulated by malevolent forces, in this case misogynistic, murderous husbands.

I believe that allegorical storytelling allows hysteria and paranoia of the main characters to blend into the background and bring into focus real-life political issues such as feminism and civil rights. The real enemy is not the devil or the monster, it is society and in it, patriarchy and racism are the horrifying elements. A carrier for contemporary ideas: these stories convey anxieties of marginalised groups over loss of their identity and power.

[1] Trailer:

[2] Interview:

[3] In one disturbing scene, Walter the groundkeeper (aka Rose’s grandfather) runs in the garden at night. He never got over the fact that Jesse Owens beat him at the Olympics.

[4] Opening credits and songs:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Review)

“Black life is cheap, but in America black bodies are a natural resource of incomparable value.”

Between the World and Me is a powerful piece of work.  Ta-Nehisi Coates, a journalist by profession, deconstructs black consciousness in a series of letters to his son Samori. Reading this text was truly heartbreaking. And I don’t know how to begin talking about this subject, but here goes anyway. It is important. Ta-Nehisi Coates charts the brutality and inhumanity of slavery, the absence of control and power for black people which has been the only consistent thread since the seventeenth century to present times.  Ta-Nehisi Coates refers time and time again to the severe regulation and curtailment of the black ‘body’ in America. He is referring to the black individual, and the larger collective. Blackhood in America is an essentialism and rightly so, it is unique and exclusive to American history and the way race relations in tandem  with the American Dream unravelled in it. Ta-Nehisi Coates is relentless in recounting the ritualised violence on black bodies – “the essential below” – from plantations to twenty first century streets and prisons. Everyone should read this book.