The Black Kids
There are certain fires in history that carry embers to our present. Some of us place them behind a glass case to observe the small flames from afar. Some days, a tentative hand is pressed to the glass and the warmth of the embers ignite a kind of compass to guide our lives by. Then, there comes the day when we inevitably become a part of living history and the screams of injustice vibrate against our safe enclosures. In moments of resolute realization, tentative hands become fists that shatter the glass borders of our extended selves. The embers are cradled, but there is no blood...only fire.
Rodney King, Michelle Cusseaux, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville...
These are their names and The Black Kids is their legacy. Read it. Learn it. Remember.
The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed is more than just a work of literature. It is a work of history and reflection of just how much our society, and humanity, has yet to go. By allowing readers to see Los Angeles through Ashley Bennett's eyes in 1992, we not only have the opportunity to reflect on our own recent horrors of 2020, but also have the unique privilege of action. Ashley's journey to discover her own sense of identity in a world where she is coming of age in the background of LA's blaze with the effects of police brutality, is laced with the authenticity of adolescence. She is our humane perspective of a faulted world that bases itself on otherism and prejudice that shifts a gaze towards the future of her generation.
Reed's ability to bridge Ashley's life and the political and societal environment that surrounded LA in 1992 speaks directly to the heart and I found myself tabbing passages so that I can return to these inspirational words for future days. Ultimately, The Black Kids is a story laced with the author's love and hope that we can still educate ourselves and find our voices against brutality.
About the Book
Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots. Los Angeles, 1992 Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer. Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids. As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?
About the Author
Christina Hammonds Reed holds an MFA in Film and Television Production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her short fiction has previously appeared in the Santa Monica Review. She lives in Hermosa Beach, CA.