A Plus Book Club

Author LaShonda Katrice Barnett Discusses The U.S.’ Complicated History Of Racial Injustice

Her historical fiction novel “Jam On the Vine” was the A Plus Book Club’s June selection.

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On Thursday, Lindsay Geller and I sat down with LaShonda Katrice Barnett to talk about her novel Jam On the Vine for the fourth meeting of the A Plus Book Club. Barnett's novel follows Ivoe Williams on her journey falling in love with journalism and activism that begins with her stealing newspapers from her mother's White employer in Texas and ends with her founding an African-American-focused newspaper in Kansas City. 

While in college, her teacher, and future girlfriend and business partner Ona Durden, asks Williams, "What work are you doing for the race?" a question that shapes the future of Williams' life and journalism career. Many of the issues that drive Williams' reporting are ones that our country is still grappling with today: the intersection of race and social class, de facto segregation, and criminal justice reform. 

"People like to think that the modern-day epidemic with the police department is a recent phenomenon, but the industrial prison complex has been an issue since the beginning of slavery," Barnett said. "When I was doing my research, that was another one of the very surprising facts I came across. In 1866, you begin to see the proliferation of former slave plantations during into prison farms."

Barnett continued: 

"We've got a problem. It's bigger than a problem, the nation is diseased. We are diseased by this police force. Where have we gone wrong with 'protect and serve' turning into 'murder and ask questions later?' " 

Check out the full conversation in the video above, and be sure to join us for next month's A Plus Book Club. As always, if there's a book you'd like to see featured, send your requests to bookclub@aplus.com.


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