Books & Writing

Poet, Novelist Piri Thomas Dies

November 1, 2011

In an Ethnic Literature class at UConn (my alma marter) I read, for the first time, Piri thomas’ Down These Mean Streets. As one of only two minorities in the class I clutched the pages of that book for life. At the time I read this book I was ready to leave the country landscape and farms of Connecticut’s inland to head back to the city streets I knew. I wanted the familiar because I wanted to go back to a place where I felt like I belonged. But, instead I stuck it out, graduating, then moving back home. In hindsight, UConn taught me a lot about overcoming expectations people have for you based on your color and for that, I’m thankful. I can’t assume others have been blessed enough to grown up loving every culture on every street corner, one day the Jamaicans, the next day the Italians, the day after the Chinese. That was my life. I indulged in culture differences because that’s what I was taught but sadly, many people (even in 2011!!!) are stuck on seeing color rather than overcoming it. Piri Thomas’ memoir discusses these facts and more from the angle of his experiences growing up in Spanish Harlem but looking Black. I encourage everyone, old and young and ANY color or shade to read this book. What Piri Thomas reveals in himself we can see in the mirror too, and that is we are all human. We are all one people and our differences empower us, not disable  us.   Check out an article on Piri and his official website for details on him, his works, and his phenomenal book, Down These Mean Streets.

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