30 min

Episode 231 - Black Misery Fuse 8 n' Kate

    • Kids & Family

It's our 5-year anniversary of this podcast and to celebrate we're examining something both obscure and of note. Haven't heard of this particular picture book? You aren't alone. Originally published in 1969, the book is perhaps best known as being the last book Langston Hughes, its author, ever worked on. Betsy was just meticulously weeding her library's adult 811s and stumbled upon it. Black Misery is a children's book marketed as an adult title yet in spite of its copyright date it has a lot of similarities to the children's books today that are calling out elements in our own racist culture. Microaggressions and outright racism vie for space on the pages. The central question for us is this: Is this book a picture book for children or not? It's not easy to answer, particularly when you weigh how little change has happened with some of these moments and how beautifully they're called out here verses the use of the n-word and some of the more dated elements.

In the end, we do wonder why it hasn't been reprinted in the last few decades. Seems like a forward thinking publisher might benefit from bringing this one back again. Then again, even that sentiment may be overly dated. We live at a time where the need for Black Joy in books for kids is particularly keen. Does it make much sense then to bring out again the true antithesis of the statement? Or does Black Misery have more going on here then its title implies? We take a deep dive into its pages to find out.

Show Notes:

- Just as a reminder, if you'd like to hang out with us on Saturday, June 25th around 9 or so at the ALA Conference in Washington D.C., just drop us a line at fuse8kate@gmail.com.

- Curious about other Langston Hughes books for children? The 1955 publication The Book of Jazz is beautifully remembered by Vox here: https://www.vox.com/2015/4/2/8335251/langston-hughes-jazz-book

- You can read what the Missouri Historical Society has to say about Black Misery here: https://mohistory.org/blog/from-the-library-black-misery-by-langston-hughes/

- For the full Show Notes please visit: https://afuse8production.slj.com/2022/06/20/fuse-8-n-kate-black-misery-by-langston-hughes-ill-arouni/

It's our 5-year anniversary of this podcast and to celebrate we're examining something both obscure and of note. Haven't heard of this particular picture book? You aren't alone. Originally published in 1969, the book is perhaps best known as being the last book Langston Hughes, its author, ever worked on. Betsy was just meticulously weeding her library's adult 811s and stumbled upon it. Black Misery is a children's book marketed as an adult title yet in spite of its copyright date it has a lot of similarities to the children's books today that are calling out elements in our own racist culture. Microaggressions and outright racism vie for space on the pages. The central question for us is this: Is this book a picture book for children or not? It's not easy to answer, particularly when you weigh how little change has happened with some of these moments and how beautifully they're called out here verses the use of the n-word and some of the more dated elements.

In the end, we do wonder why it hasn't been reprinted in the last few decades. Seems like a forward thinking publisher might benefit from bringing this one back again. Then again, even that sentiment may be overly dated. We live at a time where the need for Black Joy in books for kids is particularly keen. Does it make much sense then to bring out again the true antithesis of the statement? Or does Black Misery have more going on here then its title implies? We take a deep dive into its pages to find out.

Show Notes:

- Just as a reminder, if you'd like to hang out with us on Saturday, June 25th around 9 or so at the ALA Conference in Washington D.C., just drop us a line at fuse8kate@gmail.com.

- Curious about other Langston Hughes books for children? The 1955 publication The Book of Jazz is beautifully remembered by Vox here: https://www.vox.com/2015/4/2/8335251/langston-hughes-jazz-book

- You can read what the Missouri Historical Society has to say about Black Misery here: https://mohistory.org/blog/from-the-library-black-misery-by-langston-hughes/

- For the full Show Notes please visit: https://afuse8production.slj.com/2022/06/20/fuse-8-n-kate-black-misery-by-langston-hughes-ill-arouni/

30 min

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