Cinelle Barnes

A Measure of Belonging

America is at a crossroads. We are searching for home in places where belonging and identity are often contested. Editor Cinelle Barnes takes this search to the South, a place haunted by a history of exclusion and discrimination. In A Measure of Belonging: Writers of Color on the New American South, twenty-one writers share powerful experiences of living, working, and writing during this complicated time.

These essays examine issues of sex, gender, academia, family, immigration, health, social justice, sports, music, and more. Kiese Laymon navigates the racial politics of publishing while recording his audiobook in Mississippi. Regina Bradley moves to Indiana and grapples with a landscape devoid of her Southern cultural touchstones, like Popeyes and OutKast. Aruni Kashyap apartment hunts in Athens and encounters a minefield of invasive questions. Frederick McKindra delves into the particularly Southern history of Beyonce’s black majorettes.

From the DMV to the college basketball court to doctors’ offices, there are no shortage of places of tension in the American South. Urgent, necessary, funny, and poignant, these essays from new and established voices confront the complexities of the South’s relationship with race, uncovering the particular difficulties and profound joys of being a southerner in the 21st century.

With writing from Cinelle Barnes, Jaswinder Bolina, Regina Bradley, Jennifer Hope Choi, Tiana Clark, Christena Cleveland, Osayi Endolyn, M. Evelina Galang, Minda Honey, Gary Jackson, Toni Jensen, Aruni Kashyap, Latria Graham, Frederick McKindra, Devi Laskar, Kiese Laymon, Nichole Perkins, Joy Priest, Ivelisse Rodriguez, and Natalia Sylvester.

152 printed pages
Original publication



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