Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Wake: The Hidden History of Women Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall Illustrated by Hugo Martinez


Welcome Back, Booklovers! One of my 2021 goals is to incorporate more non fiction into my reading. And that's not always easy. I'm not a big memoir person. The Meaning of Mariah Carey was an exception. And I still haven't read Becoming. But the title and cover alone had me itching to find out what this was about.

Dr. Rebecca Hall is a scholar, activist, and educator. Wake is her journey while earning her PHD where she sought to discover more about the forgotten women during slavery who played a key part in revolts. Despite historians believing that Black women were no threat she understands that Black women have always been resilient force to be reckoned with. Scouring old court records, newspaper articles, slave ship logs, insurance policies and other correspondence she sets out to uncover the stories of these women.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter about her trip to England. As she notes the British always try to ignore away their colonial past even though the products of colonialism are still evident everywhere. As a Black person from the US she is treated better than her Black British counterparts. However when she approaches Lloyd's of London she is met with resistant when attempting to access their records as the company tries to hide their ties as an insurer during slavery. The same Lloyd's of London that finally decided after last summer's protests to now seek out an archivist to examine it's artefacts for links to the slave trade. As Britain continues to pretend racism no longer exists there we need to continue to bring attention to the facts.

The lack of written history where these women are referred to as woman #1 or #2 often means piecing together what we know about their origins and making our own inferences. Although the past is painful it's important to keep these stories alive and give these people the respect and reverence they deserve but were never afforded. This graphic novel format makes it easier to consume this history in a way just seeing the written words on the page alone would not. The art style is as raw as the history it explores and engaging throughout. 

I received an arc from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. 


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Lover of food and lore. I'm always looking to get lost in my next adventure between the pages.