readingwithstardust's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

Wow I learned... a lot. Really worthwhile listen.

half_book_and_co's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

There are a few questions at the beginning of Morgan Jerkins‘ journey: She wants to uncover her families roots, trace their movements and uncover why they left the places they left and stayed at the places they stayed. In her introduction, she asserts: “Because ruptures in cultural memory characterized much of my life and the lives of others in my community, I decided to consider these gaps an opportunity, rather than an impasse. I was weary with my conception of self, of the diaspora, as one of loss.”

Taking the Great Migration – the movement of ca. six million Black Americans from the South to the North between 1916 and 1970 – as a starting point and looking at her paternal as well as maternal family, Jerkins travels to the Lowcountry (Georgia and South Carolina), Louisiana, Oklahoma, and LA. She remains always open to what she might find states at one point: “Reconsideration is what history is all about; history doesn’t care what you feel. I had to be OK with being uncomfortable with whatever I would find out about my family.”

In each place, she meets different people and does research not only into her particular family history but also the broader contexts she tries to understand. Doing so Jerkins paints a nuanced and detailed picture which shows a broadness of Black experiences but also highlights the interconnectedness. She shows the brittleness of race categories too – without denying their every day and structural effects. Jerkins writes about the Gullah and their specific culture, language, and current problems of on-going expulsion, she interrogates Creole identity/ identities, asks about the relationships between Black and Indigenous people, and looks at the tense history of LA.

There is so much in this book, like also her explorations of Black people’s different relationships to water and swimming or an understanding of voodoo and other spiritual practices. At times I would have wanted to get more on some of the themes and topics – but that’s may be the beauty of this book. As it is a start for Jerkins life-long exploration, it is also a starting point for (some) readers to dive deeper into some of the brought up topics.

tracithomas's review

Go to review page

3.0

This book is well researched and offers lots of information that was new to me. I loved learning more about The Great Migration. The writing/craft of the book was lacking and felt very simplistic. The content was very interesting and some parts were really new to me.

loyaltolit's review against another edition

Go to review page

I learned SO much and it sparked my curiosity to do my own research on some of the topics Jerkins explored, which to me is the ultimate sign of a great text.

beccakmo's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

A heartfelt and unforgiving dive into all of the ways Black Americans have been driven from their lands by the US government and their fellow citizens since the foundation of this nation. An eye-opening celebration of people, culture, and one's connection to place juxtaposed to the continuous upheaval and uprooting of Black Americans. Jerkins writes with tenderness, empathy, sorrow, and a complete commitment to honoring her ancestors and her heritage through not only written documentation but generations of oral histories and traditions. Packed with timely reminders of the unsettling history of the United States and the ways these systems of racism and fear still hold life-threatening power in our nation today.

Read it, read it, read it.

mthereader's review against another edition

Go to review page

challenging informative reflective medium-paced

3.75

miabarranco's review against another edition

Go to review page

challenging informative reflective medium-paced

5.0

caitlyn888's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

I'm once again in awe of Morgan Jerkins' incredible writing talent (and kicking myself AGAIN for not trying to get my stuff published when I see someone my age so successful). Jerkins' interweaves the personal narrative with historical fact in a smooth, engaging writing style. She educated me on so much BIPOC American history that I was reminded once more how ignorant I am about the complicated, intricate racial history of this country. I would put this on a required reading list for people who want to learn more about the American history they don't cover in school and how that still impacts present day race relations.

pharp's review against another edition

Go to review page

Had babies

brettpet's review against another edition

Go to review page

3.0

Wandering in Strange Lands was a tough read for me. On one hand, it's a well-researched deep dive into black history and the long term impact of the Great Migration, filled with poignant interviews and first-hand accounts of racial discrimination. On the other, it feels like I'm reading someone's PHD thesis. It's great that Morgan Jerkins was so passionate about this topic and was able to craft a critically-acclaimed and unique research perspective, but I had trouble keeping interest. The first section on Georgia and the Gullah-Geechee people of South Carolina were an interesting start to the book, but my desire to finish plummeted during the second section on Louisiana. I just didn't find much interesting about the section aside from Jerkins' interview with Kelly Clayton and their discussion on skin color/being white passing. The sections on Oklahoma and California were the most attention-grabbing for me, as I thought the research around indigenous land rights was well-paced and within my field of interest. The latter chapter, particularly the interview with Regina, was interesting but a bit brief compares to the first two parts. Overall, I think this book is well written but a bit over-structured and rigid to read. I would only recommend it if you're extremely interested in the Great Migration or land rights issues.