Literaryswag Book Club Meeting for November Recap

The more book club meetings there are, the more I'm learning to divorce myself from the concept of "tough love." Using tough as a modifier for the word love insinuates that love, itself, is easy. That anyone can do it. And anyone can. But there's a reason why many of us aren't about that life. Most of us knew James Baldwin was the best to ever do it, one of the nicest with the typewriter. But spending two hours only discussing the ways in which water is wet wouldn't have been wavy. To read Baldwin in this way also would've been irresponsible to his legacy. Not just as a writer; a human being. He spent so much of his time and energy and ink trying to convince white people of his humanity, so much energy and ink and anger defending his manhood, there were times when you weren't sure if the things he was saying were for others, or reminders for himself. Though it may not feel like it in the moment, sincere critique is an act of love. An act that removes the masks we fear cannot live without but also know we cannot live within. Last Thursday was spent removing Baldwin's mask, while also interrogating why he felt it necessary to don in the first place. To do this, we had to remove our own masks; explain why we felt it necessary to wear them and for who. Were we being our full selves, or were we each our own divided houses, barely standing? It was one of those conversations you don't expect to have with people you hardly know, because you barely have them with the people you do --and yet, you're appreciative for the opportunity. It's never easy; but always necessary. For that reason I am forever and always removing the term "tough love" from my vocabulary. Love is tough by design--and for good reason: by virtue of its difficulty, it lets you know when it's real. Also, that it's worth it. This book club is both and I couldn't be more appreciative for the opportunity. Thank y'all!

Jennelle Gordon