READ: "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi
In 300 pages, Yaa Gyasi traces two branches of a family tree over the course of 250 years, beginning in Ghana in the 18th century at the height of the slave trade industry. Although the novel covers a lot of ground, each character's story is told in compulsively readable twenty-page increments. As one generation gives way to the next, the effects of slavery reverberate through space and time, profoundly influencing each character's life. Gyasi's heart-wrenching plot, haunting imagery and beautiful prose will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
WATCH: "13th" directed by Ava DuVernay
This Netflix original documentary is a sobering portrayal of our country's prison system. In 100 minutes, Ava DuVernay delves into the institutionalization of racism in the United States, from the passing of the thirteenth amendment in 1865 to the distressing political climate of 2017. It's eye-opening and thought-provoking, shining much needed light on the racial disparities in our criminal justice system. Watching "13th" with "Homegoing" in mind offers historical context for several of the characters in the novel, particularly H and Sonny.
LISTEN: "Process" by Sampha
Produced in the time leading up to and following his mother's death, Sampha's emotionally charged lyrics grapple with loss, regret and loneliness. Many of the impassioned tracks on the album explore the deep connection between mother and son — from womb to cradle to grave. "Process" articulates the desire to feel connected with family, particularly people who aren't physically present, a sentiment that's ever present in "Homegoing."