1619: “Fear,” by Leslie Alexander and Michelle Alexander
Also: Thank you for a very thoughtful discussion yesterday
Hi Book Clubbers! Thank you for our thoughtful discussion yesterday. Special appreciation goes to facilitators Camille, Kira, Trevor, and Wes. I’d love to hear about your experience. Feel free to fill out this quick survey, email me directly, or leave a comment below.
Before launching into this week’s essay: If you’d like to facilitate a future small group, here’s the sign-up sheet. I’ll follow up with tips and resources.
Now it’s time to dive into Module 3. Here’s our schedule.
This week, let’s read “Fear,” by Leslie Alexander and Michelle Alexander. The essay explores white fear of Black resistance to white supremacy. Beginning with the protests of the murder of George Floyd, then moving back in time to the Stono Rebellion, the Haitian Revolution, and Nat Turner’s Rebellion, Prof. Alexander and Ms. Alexander (they’re sisters) explain how systems of the state – the police, laws, surveilllance, and mass incarceration – served to protect against disruption of the racial order.
Read “Fear,” by Leslie Alexander and Michelle Alexander.
Recommended: What’s one connection you noticed between an idea in “Fear” and an idea in another essay? Please share your contribution in the comments. And say hi to your fellow group members, too, while you’re at it!
Also, please feel free to reach out. All you need to do is hit reply. Let’s build momentum and make this book club a deep and transformative one. Thank you and have a great week!
I'm watching the first day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson after just finishing reading the FEAR chapter.
I'm simultaneously heartbroken and outraged at the fear-driven comments from Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; I hear the echoes of all of those dreadful policies, laws, attitudes and behaviors from this chapter in her comments (which I'm sure will soon be available online somewhere) directed toward Judge Jackson. (including some choice remarks about The 1619 Project specifically.)
And I'm also uplifted and hopeful as Judge Jackson herself speaks for the first time in this setting: while Blackburn illustrates how far we have to go, Jackson personifies how far we have come.
I'm really grateful for the juxtaposition of this chapter with these events.
A few connections I noticed: (1) How the Haitian Revolution bolstered Louisiana’s sugar industry (“Sugar”) at the same time it led to fear and Black Codes in the rest of the South (“Fear”). (2) How Reconstruction was a brief moment of greater equality (“Democracy), but it was reversed because white people were scared to lose supremacy (“Fear”).
Also I noticed that the Alexanders seemed hopeful at the end of the chapter. Was this because they wrote this essay in 2020? Would they say the same thing now?