Book Review: How The Word Is Passed

Memory, for me, is often a home where the furniture has been rearranged one too many times.” – Clint Smith, How the Word Is Passed.

This book is beautiful like a nursery rhyme sang by a loving parent. Like the smell of clean linen out of the dryer. Ok, I am no poet but Clint Smith definitely is and paraphrasing a very wise man: “he knows words. He has the best words.” And he really does. “How the Word Is Passed” is beautifully written and sad; you literally feel the weigh of atrocities committed in our land and far away like concrete being poured on your chest. And I can honestly say I have not read a book that is so life-changing for me, personally, since I read “Woman Race Class” by Angela Y. Davis years ago.

In this collection of essays, Smiths takes on a literary journey across America and Senegal and across time, from the foundation of America to today. From Louisiana to Virginia to New York to Texas, we hear the stories of enslaved Americans and their descendants and how history should remember them, hadn’t it been written by the oppressor.

Smith closes with a message of the importance of teaching history accurately, owning up to our darker actions. It made me reckon with how I learned history and all what was left unsaid but shouldn’t. And how do we move forward from here.

This is one of those books that I need everyone to read.

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