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Judy Helfand

The Fire This Time: Read This Book

Book review by Judy Helfand I am writing about the Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward, because I want folks to read it. But I barely know what to say. When I finished “Message to My Daughters” by Edwidge Danticat, the final essay …

Balm for Trying Times

by Judy Helfand Recently various friends have asked me if I’m scared about the upcoming presidential election, which prompted some self-reflection as to why I’m not. There’s nothing surprising to me about the outpouring of hate and racial invective. Trump does not seem like the devil incarnate, simply another manifestation …

The Perfect Book for July 4th

by Judy Helfand An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz sat on my bookshelf for months. I’d picked it up because I admired the author, having read her memoir Red Dirt: Growing Up Oakie, which seriously grappled with whiteness. When I finally took the history off …

Soulsville USA

by Judy Helfand Musicians seem to me better able to work across ethnic and racial boundaries than most folks, exploring, adapting, and changing music springing from various cultures. Respect Yourself: the Story of Stax Records surprised me by exploring, not only the music recorded at Stax, but the racial history …

Oregon Standoff

by Judy Helfand The “Oregon Standoff” seems to me a blatant illustration of the white supremacist foundations of the U.S. I wake up every morning incredulous that it’s still going on. That law enforcement allows the occupiers supporters to come and go, bringing supplies, setting up “perimeter reinforcements,” talking with …