Books

Why you should read #TheBlackLedger by @TheDGAllen

I founded Arlene Miller Creative Writing in memory of my mother Arlene Miller (August 24, 1924-May 10, 2005) to recognize & support all forms of creative expression.

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Why you should read #TheBlackLedger by @TheDGAllen

When I joined social media on April 23, 2015, I joined with the intent of promoting, recognizing & supporting creative artistry. Books play an important role in my life so there was no question in my mind that approximately 80% of my tweets & Facebook posts were going to be focused on articles, book reviews & author interviews. In almost two years on social media, I’ve been fortunate to read so many phenomenal authors.

On Monday, February 27, 2016, I discovered a book that would touch close to home & have a profound impact on me: The Black Ledger. D.G. Allen’s book of racism, adversity, love… and yes, triumph…is a must read.

The Black Ledger is unapologetic in exposing societal bias, because sadly, most of us are programmed towards subconsciously accepting bias whether or not we want to admit it. We are spoon fed media images about various races and if we grow up in homogeneous communities where we have almost nonexistent interactions with people of different races, we may unknowingly endorse the media propaganda. It doesn’t make us bad people. It just makes us uninformed people.

Allen’s The Black Ledger is set against the backdrop of Chicago public housing and the inner city in the 1980s, a wasteland of despair, hopelessness and violence. I grew up in Philadelphia public housing in the 1970s (and eventually moved into a less than stellar inner city neighborhood in the 1980s), a similar wasteland of despair, hopelessness and violence. Yet, unlike many of the characters in The Black Ledger, I had a mother who countered the bleakness with a call for securing higher education, a respect for ourselves and others and gratitude for opportunities. Because of my mother, I didn’t become a welfare statistic. Instead, I focused my sole attention on succeeding in school. My commitment and hard work were rewarded: I attended both college and law school on full academic scholarships. My mother, who was born in rural, segregated Virginia in 1924, refused to believe that racial separation led to anything worthwhile; what it did was ignite fear, mistrust and suspicion.

D.G. Allen was seemingly tasked with the impossible. His book is a fact based story told from the perspective of Ron Pickles, a young white man thrust in an environment where racism was as commonplace as gazing up towards sky and seeing clouds soar by. Racism is such a taboo topic that I feel that perhaps the prevailing belief of both black and white people: why talk about it because it’s not going to change anything.

Ron meets Sandra Wesley (a young black mother determined to rise above her circumstances) and the two forge a special relationship. They recognize their racial differences, but they are both astute enough to scratch below the surface for their commonality.

The Black Ledger isn’t preachy. The Black Ledger doesn’t promise to solve racial discord within its pages. What the book does provide is a starting point for the honest and necessary conversations about race. Sadly in many ways, the belief that America society has come a long way in race relationships over the last century is but an illusion. Today’s social climate is a testament that we are walking backwards rather than forward.

I applaud D.G. Allen for his willingness in guiding us in walking forward with his incredible book The Black Ledger.

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