“Notes from 1619” is a collection of poetry written in remembrance of one man’s ancestral linkage to the arrival of the first Africans four hundred years ago in what became the United States of America. It is a testimony on the major events that shaped and propelled black lives since Jamestown and in that sense represents the stories of the 40 million African Americans who are the descendants of enslaved people – making “Notes from 1619” their narrative too. The mixture of poems is organized in a chronology that mirrors the history of race relations in America. The journey starts off with a voyeur’s view of the naked celebratory dance of a young bride-to-be engaging in her tribal solitary fertility ocean pirouette – a scene that conveys a sense of the tranquil paradise that existed before the arrival of the barbarians. The very next poem explodes into a scene of carnage, fire, pillage and rampage as humans are loaded in ships for the journey across the Middle Passage and from there the poems quickly assemble to recount the decadent story of race in America.
The author hopes that these poems will educate white readers on their connections to the architects of the system of slavery and all the racial horrors that are a direct result of slavery in a way that would encourage them to make a proper moral assessment on these people’s role in history. The author realize that because the poems exposed white barbarism in the stark terms in which they were rendered, Readers may missed the point completely by mistaking the honest bluntness of the poems for the blinding bitterness that could lead to the mistaken assertion that all whites are racist. So the author asserts that all though all white people are not racist, they all benefitted from racism thus they all must contribute to the solution – that is the point of these edgy poems. “I know that there are many unbiased white people who are self-assured enough to know that they would still fare well in an unbiased society, they are the hope of this book.”
Reading “Notes from 1619” will not be a sunny stroll in the park, but rather a trek through a minefield that makes you better for having successfully maneuvered through it. Reading “Notes from 1619” is perhaps, the closest many of you will ever get to the pain created by white supremacy and suffered by African Americans and, it is the author’s hope, that this moves you to become a catalyst for justice – now.