TalkNovember -- Marginalized People

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November -- Marginalized People

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Edited: Nov 26, 2019, 9:21am

I am back home. (changed 11/26 from statement of 10/21)

Our November topic is history relating to marginalized people. When I originally thought of the topic, I thought mainly of blacks, indigenous people, and people living in poverty. However, throughout history many people have been marginalized, which can be defined as being relegated to an unimportant or powerless position within a society. Examples of marginalized people include but are not limited to, groups or individuals deemed less important or excluded due to race, religion, age, gender, health, sexual preference, financial status, disability, or country of origin. Thus, there are many topics from various time periods and geographic regions from which a reader can choose.

Oct 9, 2019, 10:42pm

Have a great time!

Oct 10, 2019, 5:02am

This sounds like a great trip, have fun!

Oct 13, 2019, 2:17pm

Something I've always wanted to do! Can't wait to hear about your travels!

Oct 21, 2019, 11:46pm

Where was your cruise? What cruise line were you on?

I will look for some options to read, likely tomorrow.

Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 2:07am

I have been saving Empire of the Summer Moon about the Comanches for this month!

Oct 22, 2019, 1:39pm

I plan to read An American Sunrise

From the publisher
A stunning new volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, informed by her tribal history and connection to the land.

Oct 22, 2019, 3:51pm

>4 countrylife:, >5 LibraryCin: . We cruised on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River (from Detroit to Montreal although we went north to Quebec City and back to disembark in Montreal) on the Victory II. Earlier this year the Victory line was bought by the American Queen Steamship Company. Next year the Victory cruises will be a bit more like those of the American Queen company with an overnight hotel stay prior to the cruise as part of the package. The ship we were on is smaller than many; its total capacity is 202 passengers, but I think fewer than that were on the trip. I enjoyed the lectures and the evening entertainment which featured the same three musicians all week; they played music and did not have flashy costume changes and multicolored lighting as some cruise ships do for entertainment. The onshore excursions were part of the package instead of paying extra for them, and well arranged with passengers picking up red, blue, green, or yellow tickets to determine which bus they would be on. The tour guides often carried the big colored signs for the tours which were easy to follow. At Niagara Falls, we were on Hornblower boats (the Maid of the Mist competitors) which took us very close to the falls. The passengers who did not go into the enclosed part of the boats got soaked even though we wore ponchos supplied by the company. The food was excellent, and the very small cabins comfortable once we became accustomed to their size.

Oct 22, 2019, 3:58pm

I am planning to read A Mercy by Toni Morrison.

Oct 22, 2019, 9:30pm

>9 sallylou61: Oh, wow! Nice, so a much smaller ship than the mass market lines! And you got to go to different places than the mass market lines.

I did a Canada/ New England cruise 10 years ago, now - wow - but on a mass market line. Quebec City was one of my favourite ports on that trip. That and PEI.

It sounds so nice!

Edited: Oct 23, 2019, 7:07pm

Ah, I want to focus on the history (nonfiction) part of this topic, but most of what I'm finding on my tbr is fiction. Might have to look a bit further...

Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 10:44pm

I hope to be able to read Twenty Years at Hull House, Jane Addams' own account of her work with new immigrants in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century.

Oct 23, 2019, 1:23pm

I am planning on reading The Bastard of Instanbul by Elif Shafak. This book fits the theme in a number of ways, the main character is a female in a traditional Turkish-Armenian household. She is also illegitimate and bears the stigma of that. In addition, she is searching for a cultural identity as her family were part of the Armenian diaspora where many Armenians were massacred and/or deported from Turkey.

Edited: Oct 25, 2019, 10:03am

One category you missed in your excellent introduction was for people with disabilities. In the last 50 years Ive seen many advances in treatment, accomodations, and support, yet even today they are often forgotten about.

Elizabeth Moon speed of dark is one of my fav books that touch on normality - a cure is discovered for autism that requires surgery, and an employer says that in order for an autistic worker to continue in the joy, he must get the surgery.

Not sure what I'll read. But its still october :)

Oct 24, 2019, 12:44pm

>15 cindydavid4: . Thanks, I will add that one.

Oct 24, 2019, 8:15pm

>sally : WOW! What a fun trip! I'm adding your post to Favorites so I can review again when we plan our sister trips.

Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 1:17am

Although I might change my mind, I plan to read Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men for the November theme.

It sounds as though you had a lovely vacation, Sally. Much better than being on one of those large cruise ships, for sure!

Oct 27, 2019, 2:48pm

I'm still trying to come up with something for me, but I wanted to make a recommendation.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson made my favourites list the year I read it.

Oct 27, 2019, 2:51pm

Sounds like it based on real people, so I will probably read:
The Librarian of Auschwitz / Antonio Iturbe

Edited: Oct 27, 2019, 9:32pm

>19 LibraryCin: Thanks for the recommendation. I actually own the book, so that provides another option to read.

Oct 27, 2019, 11:07pm

>21 This-n-That: If you decide on it, I hope you like it!

Oct 28, 2019, 2:02pm

>19 LibraryCin: >21 This-n-That: The Warmth of Other Suns will be one of my top 5 reads for this year. I listened on audio which I rarely do, but I would definitely recommend that media. The narrator's voice was pitch perfect.

Edited: Oct 29, 2019, 4:19pm

I'm planning to read Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. I'm taking an adult education course on the nature/nurture controversy; I thought Stamped from the Beginning was going to be the text. However, it is only recommended reading. The course will be covering eugenics which is a hot topic around Charlottesville now because of its history at the University of Virginia and the Alt-Right demonstration in Charlottesville in August 2017 which resulted in three deaths.

Oct 30, 2019, 4:49am

Just found this group and love historical reading of any sort.
I have just started reading Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee and also have Dark Emu and/or Young Dark Emu on my TBR for November.

Oct 30, 2019, 5:41am

>25 JayneCM: Welcome to the group! Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee takes me way, way back! I owned this as a teenager (in German translation, back then), it was on my Christmas list and I was so happy to find it under the tree. Seems like a good time to revisit it...

Oct 30, 2019, 6:59am

>26 MissWatson: Thank you! I am always in need of more book groups and thus, more book recommendations! Just need more hours in the day as well.

Edited: Nov 3, 2019, 1:52am

The Harvest Gypsies by John Steinbeck. I'm not really a fan of Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row), but found this short writing to be excellent reading. It was originally 7 newspaper articles that has been made into a short non-fiction book. Steinbeck heart wrenchingly describes the plight of the Okies during the Great Depression. He describes in detail their living conditions in the Hoovervilles. He also does a good job making these gypsies so very human. They were mostly small family farmers that lost their farms during the dust bowl. He tells us how the people in California hated them but needed them. Without these migrant workers most of the California peach and apples orchards would have failed. The book also includes photographs by Dorothea Lange and others, which were published when the columns were. Certainly much better than The Grapes of Wrath IMHO.

Oct 31, 2019, 10:03pm

>28 Tess_W: Sounds interesting. I just found a book at the library called Australian Gypsies - know nothing about it, just picked it up based on the title, so will see if it fits here.

Nov 1, 2019, 9:22am

>28 Tess_W: I do love Steinbeck, and definitely want to read that.

Nov 2, 2019, 10:53am

The December topic is up at:

Nov 3, 2019, 11:36am

I have finished Der Sommer des Kometen, a historical mystery set in 1766, featuring an actress from a travelling group of theatre players who were regarded as little better than gypsies at the time. There was little playacting in this book, but lots of fascinating stuff about sugar and Barbary pirates.

Nov 4, 2019, 10:06pm

This included some history of the Roma.

Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey / Isabel Fonseca
3 stars

The author is a journalist (she is not an anthropologist, though I had to check that). She spent time in various Eastern European countries in the early ‘90s (this was published in 1995), to talk to and get to know the Romani (aka Gypsies) to learn about their lives and culture. She also talks to other local people to find out their views of the local Roma (usually negative).

Overall, the book was ok. I didn’t learn as much as I thought I might. I have read a book by Ian Hancock, who is Romani himself, and I liked it better. Fonseca was a bit all over the place – the chapters didn’t really tie together. I guess each chapter was in a different country. I think I didn’t like her writing style. She included some photos of some of the various people she talked to. I suppose the most interesting to me was the chapter on the Holocaust. I’m not sure any stereotypes were quenched by reading this – she said it early in the book: they lie, they steal… I found it odd. If she was trying to fight stereotypes (as other reviews are saying), I definitely missed that. Oh, one stereotype broken: they don’t travel, nor necessarily want to always be travelling; they are just so unwelcome in so many places, they don’t have a lot of options. I’m still rating it ok. It held my interest, so that’s a good thing. It just wasn’t what I expected, and I didn’t learn as much as I’d hoped.

Nov 6, 2019, 11:20pm

Native American

Tracks / Louise Erdrich
2 stars

This was set in the 1910s, I believe on a Native reserve. Not sure what it was supposed to be about. There was a girl, Fleur, who gambled with the men, then slept with and married someone. There was a nun (or maybe that was a different woman, not the nun?), who seemed to have a crush on one of the other women in the story. Other reviews tell me the book was set in North Dakota and about the Native land being taken away. Had no idea.

I was confused. I didn’t “get” it. “I” was used in the book, but part of the time “I” was male and part of the time “I” was female. I wasn’t sure if “I” was switching back and forth somehow or what, but a review I saw said something about there being two narrators, one an old man and one a young woman. Had no idea.

Nanapush was the name(?) of the old man “I”, but I don’t know if it was just a name or if it was meant to represent the native trickster/legend of the same name?

I should probably not bother reading any more of Erdrich’s adult novels, though I have enjoyed a couple of her children’s literature.

Nov 7, 2019, 1:38am

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne is really more of a sweeping history of the Comanches than a biography of the Parkers. Only the last 4 chapters really deal with Quanah. I liked this book because it gave a multi-faceted look at the time period. Not only does it show the relentless push of the white man in their quest for manifest destiny, it also gives a realistic picture of the torture techniques of the Comanches. I was surprised that the author did not balk in explicitly describing the absolute heinous tortures the Comanches inflicted upon the "settlers", from the first Spanish "invasion" until the late 19th century. It's not PC to talk or write of this savagery and it was refreshing to get an honest narrative. So many people are misinformed concerning Native Americans but I found this book to be consistent with what is really known of the Plains Indians, specifically the Comanches. There may not be more information concerning Quanah's mother available, but the book contained scant information about her. 396 pages, 5 stars. Recommended reading!

Nov 9, 2019, 12:27pm

I have completed my read of The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak. This was a great read that is mostly about Turkish identity and culture. It does touch on the 1915 displacement and murders of Armenians as one of the main characters is from an American-Armenian family and comes to Turkey to explore her Armenian roots.

Nov 16, 2019, 11:58am

For this month’s topic I read Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla. The author tells the story of her family in Andhra Pradesh, beginning near the end of British rule. The story sheds light on the caste system, how it affects every part of life, the sufferings of peasants under landowners, and the subjugation of women. Although highly educated, her maternal grandparents having been taught to read and write by Canadian missionaries, as untouchables (now Dalits), the family still suffered the abject poverty and daily humiliations of their caste.

A major part of the book focused on the author’s maternal uncle, an eccentric, a fervent Communist and poet who became well-known as a leader of the Maoist guerilla movement in India. Long, detailed chapters of the book were devoted to this part of the story which I found difficult to get through. I wish his life had been more woven into the rest of the story rather than being almost the focus of the book. I would have liked to know more about the lives of the author and her siblings as they were growing up. A glossary would have been helpful.

Still, this is an important work. The caste system, the subjugation of women, corruption and bribery, are still alive and well in India today despite the progress that is taking place there.

Edited: Nov 18, 2019, 9:35am

For November I did follow through and read Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. The author makes some compelling points concerning how the majority of data collected on a global scale is based on men and women are not even considered as a separate entity. There is evidence to support a plethora of hidden biases against women ranging from dismissive healthcare treatment to ill fitting unisex uniforms. However the author also heavily relies on the use of statistics to support her positions but I feel some of those statistics are too limited in scope or generalized to make a strong argument for cause and effect. That is just my opinion though and I am not an expert on the subject. Even so, this is definitely a worthwhile book to read and the information presented in a few chapters mirrored some of my personal experiences.

Nov 17, 2019, 3:48pm

The Librarian of Auschwitz / Antonio Iturbe
4 stars

Dita was 9-years old when the war started, and 14-years old when she and her parents were brought to Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, for a while, there was a children’s school in Block 31. Dita was soon asked to be the school’s “librarian”. Books were prohibited, but somehow there were 8 books that had been smuggled in. It was a dangerous job, as Dita would have to make sure the books were never discovered by the guards.

Dita was a real person, and the author interviewed her. Many of the additional people were also real – a couple of additional people/situations the author included were people who escaped (one SS guard, and one Jewish boy who was was helping in the camp, so actually was in a “good” position, as compared to some of the others) to try to get help (the SS guard wanted to help one of the prisoners escape, along with her mother, and the Jewish boy wanted to get word out to the international community as to what was really happening in the concentration camps). I quite enjoyed this one, and it was interesting to read about the Block 31 school, the “library”, and the escapees, none of which I’d heard about before (that I recall).

Edited: Nov 21, 2019, 3:49pm

Worked my way through An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo. This collection of poems by the current Poet Laureate of the US served as a memoir and a tribute to her family who were forced to relocate and travel over the Trail of Tears. (1830-39) Many of the poems were narrative and others lyrical. As with all collections, I found some that moved me deeply and others that I could let go. I would especially recommend this book for those who appreciate tributes to past generations. Goes without saying this definitely fits the category of marginalized people.

Nov 25, 2019, 10:11am

I read A Mercy by Toni Morrison for this theme. There were a number of marginalized people in the novel - Native Americans, slaves, free black, women... The writing was exquisite (of course), but the story didn't totally hang together for me. I gave it 3.5 stars.

Nov 25, 2019, 3:42pm

The book I had intended to read is hiding somewhere in this house! I'll use a book I read for another CAT, A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier. The marginalized people the plot revolves around are a thirty-eight year old single woman whose fiancé was killed in WWII, an unmarried mother, and a lesbian couple.

Edited: Nov 25, 2019, 7:57pm

>1 sallylou61:

Sally this is not meant as a critism at all, this is an excellent thread. But did anyone else catch the irony of the first message, with the rest of the thread "I just came back from the cruise' in a discussion of people whose ocean voyage may be on a raft.... :)...

Nov 26, 2019, 9:26am

>43 cindydavid4: . I have changed it to back home. >5 LibraryCin: shows that it was a cruise. I originally posted the message Oct. 8th to say that I was going on vacation and would not be back until later in the month, missing the Oct. 15th suggested date for posting.

Nov 26, 2019, 9:34am

No worries, but thanks for changing it. Again wasn't trying to make fun, and hope you didn't take it that way. Just my very bizarre twisted sense of humor....

Nov 26, 2019, 3:21pm

I read The Stopping Places: A Journey Through Gypsy Britain which was about the author’s journey to find the old gypsy stopping places in Britain that are little used today as most of the gypsies now live in permanent homes. Along the way the author delves into the long history of his people in Britain and sometimes further afield. It was very interesting.

Nov 27, 2019, 3:06am

>46 Familyhistorian: I would like to read that. I picked up a book about Australian gypsies from the library, which I had never really thought about. I always think of Europe when I think of gypsies. So I will be interested to read it.

Nov 27, 2019, 8:01pm

>47 JayneCM: Apparently Gypsies were all over. The author of the book met up with various different groups of Roma. I was surprised that there were so many of them, groups that is.

Edited: Nov 29, 2019, 10:14am

>46 Familyhistorian:, >47 JayneCM: I live in northwest Arkansas on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. There has been a gypsy population here for well over 100 years. Just thought you might enjoy knowing this rather remarkable story!

In 1891 Marie Cole, the first woman to be licensed as a pharmacist in Arkansas, came here with her husband and opened a drugstore. There had always been a prejudice against the gypsies but Marie welcomed them into their store. She let no child go without medicine, including the gypsy children who called her Mother Cole. When the gypsies couldn't pay, they would often give her something for her kindness. Among the items she received were Indian ware, chinaware, rare books, Gypsy copper work and teak furniture from Asia, all on display in the store. Soon, the drugstore became a "destination" with people coming from other states to view the unusual collection.

In 1912 Marie was asked to serve as Gypsy postmistress. Eventually thousands of letters from throughout the world would pass through her hands, making our small city the capital of the Gypsy world for more than twenty years. When Gypsy "king" Yanko Urich died in 1923, Marie was named the executor of his estate. Estimated at $200,000 it would be more than $2,000.000 today. The assets were deposited in banks and trust companies throughout the US and Mexico.

Like many cities in the western U.S. our town was originally a military fort. In celebration of the site's (and city's) 200th anniversary, the Fort Smith National Historic Site wanted to do an exhibit on the contributions of 19th century women to the city. I did the research for the exhibit and was able to verify what I had heard about Marie and her story was a popular part of the exhibit.

I love what I call my 19th century girlfriends, long may they be remembered!

Nov 28, 2019, 11:01am

wow, I had no idea! thanks for that story - are there still items from the collection she had?

Nov 29, 2019, 5:05am

I have finished The prospering, which is about Stockbridge, Mass. and its origins as a mission for the Mahican Indians.

Edited: Nov 29, 2019, 10:05pm

>50 cindydavid4: There are no objects in Fort Smith that I am are aware of. Marie died in 1932 as the result of a fall down stairs and her husband died several years later after stepping out in front of a car. They were both born in Illinois and they are buried there. They didn't have any children, if they had I would have tried to make contact with them. So far I haven't worked on trying to contact other people in her family line but have thought about it.

Nov 29, 2019, 8:49pm

>49 clue: What an interesting history! It just goes to show the amazing things that can happen when people treat each other with humanity.

Nov 29, 2019, 9:14pm

I took a book bullet from >28 Tess_W: and read The Harvest Gypsies by John Steinbeck, which I received last week for my birthday. I'm still in the process of reading Imbeciles by Adam Cohen (>24 sallylou61:), which I plan to finish next month. This book is much broader than the subtitle sounds; although it deals with the Carrie Buck case, it also covers the history of eugenics in the United States, particularly through the actions of several of the people involved in the Carrie Buck case. I may finish Stamped from the Beginning next month. Unfortunately, my adult education course is not covering the material suggested in the description of it. It is not really about eugenics or race relations; it's about how studies in science can be flawed. The instructor loves to talk about his experiments as a graduate student.

Nov 30, 2019, 2:37am

>49 clue: What an interesting story. I agree with you, I find history infinitely fascinating. It is important that we try to remember and record as many of these stories as we can.

Edited: Nov 30, 2019, 4:21pm

I had originally intended to read a book by Jane Addams about her work at Hull House, but ended up with these two books:

--The Cut Out Girl by Bart Van Es: this is a memoir/biography in which Van Es researches his Dutch family's role during WWII to save Dutch Jewish children, but finds the story (and the Dutch resistance in general) is not exactly as it seems. The book focuses on one girl that was hidden by his grandparents, who the author was able to interview at length in her 80s.
--Quicksand by Nella Larsen, 1928. This is the first short novel by Larsen, which has many autobiographical elements. Larsen was born in 1891 in Chicago to a white Danish immigrant mother and an African laborer from the Danish West Indies; the character in the book, Helga Crane, has a similar background. The novel explores Helga's attitudes on class, race and sex, and how her bi-racial status makes her feel out of place everywhere she goes. Shockingly honest for 1928.

Dec 1, 2019, 8:22pm

Thanks to everyone who participated in this reading. Thanks especially to those who described the books they read in detail and how they fit the topic. This was not really an enjoyable topic so that I hope all participants learned something

Dec 1, 2019, 9:52pm

thank you for leading this theme; I certainly learned from the several posts of books and topics that I hadn't really considered. Would like to read The Cutout Girl - I'd always heard that the dutch helped the Jews, so this will give a different view to what really happened.

Dec 1, 2019, 11:41pm

>56 kac522: >58 cindydavid4: The Cut Out Girl was a very different history than those we have been told.