A [once] popular hashtag used in social media, #tbt to denote something from the past is my inspiration for this post. On this divergent Tuesday post mercury retrograde (we’re still in the “shadow” period) I pull on a recent reread of Push, after watching the movie Precious last night; written by the expressive Ramona Lofton aka Sapphire. What an alias to have & live up to! As an LGBTQ identified novelist and women of color, Sapphire utilizes her platform to bring attention to what has been kept invisible.
I originally read PUSH while in high school, during the era of Omar Tyree fictional novels flooding the lockers of my peers – and mine as well. I would scribble short stories in the empty pages of my brother’s unused 5 star notebooks and compare & contrast the narratives of my “make believe” characters & those in popular culture at the time. I dare say that PUSH exposed me to the raw rough reality of young black women in my age group, disengaged from services and love with trauma embedded in their everyday happenings. Disengaged from services, I’ll need to come back to that.
Sapphire left no stone unturned as she graphically described aspects of Precious’s life that were incomprehensible to my 16 year old mind. Teenage pregnancy, incestuous rape, HIV, illiteracy and a physically, emotionally abusive bully of a mother all wrapped into 140 pages. The phonetic language, inspired by Zora Neale Hurston, stunned me into racing through the pages. Reading the detailed graphic and metaphorically expressed experiences of Precious was humbling and similar to watching a scary movie while covering my eyes during the scary parts. This was a short reread, I devoured it this time around in 2 days. The artistic function of similes, spelling, grammar and the English language to fully encapsulate the personality of the protagonist was other worldly in its creativity. I highlight that to encourage the reading of the book before watching the movie because it’s the language that sets the stage in such a visceral way.
I enjoyed this book and I also enjoyed meeting and talking to the author during her visit to Claremont McKenna Consortium back in 2010. Not only did she share insights into what inspired the creation of her novel, she also shared some poetry with me! I draw on her generosity in sharing herself with my own desires to share a bit of myself within this post.
This read is real despite it being labeled fiction – and it’s a reminder of the privilege that those of us have who did not have to experience such laden trauma. Childhood trauma is emerging as a focal point in our society with pop culture assistance from philanthropists such as Oprah Winfrey, giving voice to the invisible pertaining to the impact of developmental trauma in children and ways in which it forges vulnerabilities that make them more susceptible to a number of things, such as mental illness and overall suffering.
Good read to have on the bookshelf.