Showing 111 - 120 of 121 annotations tagged with the keyword "African-American Experience"

Amazons

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Feb-01-2001
Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A 23-line poem written during the moments of waiting for the results and upon hearing the results ("i rose / and ran to the telephone / to hear / cancer early detection no / mastectomy not yet"), "Amazons" invokes images of the narrator's real and mythological ancestors and sisters ("women / warriors all / each cupping one hand around / her remaining breast") as she waits, and when she receives the news ("my sisters swooped in a circle dance / audre was with them").

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Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Criticism

Summary:

Peppered with a plethora of black and white stills, this book is a compilation of a physician's film reviews and reflections on how movies have mirrored the changes in medical care and in society's attitudes towards doctors and medicine over the last sixty years. Ten chapters blend a chronological approach with a thematic perspective: Hollywood Goes to Medical School; The Kindly Savior:

From Doctor Bull to Doc Hollywood; Benevolent Institutions; The Temple of Science; "Where are All the Women Doctors?"; Blacks, the Invisible Doctors; The Dark Side of Doctors; The Institutions Turn Evil; The Temple of Healing; More Good Movie Doctors and Other Personal Favorites.

The appendices (my favorite) briefly note recurring medical themes and stereotypes ("You have two months to live," "Boil the Water!"). Formatted as a filmography, the appendices reference the chapter number in which the film is discussed, the sources of the photographs, and a limited index.

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Vigil

Shapiro, Alan

Last Updated: Aug-15-2000
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

Alan Shapiro, poet and professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, chronicles the life and death of his sister, Beth, who died of breast cancer at the age of 49. Beth lived the last four weeks of her life at a hospice in Texas--this memoir traces those weeks in particular and refracts them against decades of family dynamics, turmoil and triumph. The memoir is composed of 14 tersely named chapters ("The Death," "The Joke") followed by "Afterwords": six poems about Beth.

Alan is the youngest of 3 siblings; Beth was the oldest and David, an actor is the middle child. Despite, or perhaps because of their age difference, Beth and Alan were very close. It was he whom she asked to write her eulogy and it was he who stayed the entire 4 weeks of hospice, save for a brief trip home. From Alan's love and devotion grows an admiration for Beth's integrity in life and death.

Beth married an African-American man, fought for liberal causes, and suffered complete estrangement from her parents due to her choices. Her husband, Russ, must deal not only with the loss of his wife and their daughter's loss of her mother, but also with the prejudice of the Shapiro parents and the medical establishment. At one point Shapiro describes how, whenever he accompanied his sister and her husband to the doctor's office, Alan, not Russ, was treated as the spouse and decision-maker.

Shapiro vividly depicts the poignancy of parent-child relationships. Gabbi, the seven-year-old daughter who loves horses, gallops through the house with grace and abandon not possible at the hospice. Alan's anger at his father's actions and his forgiveness of his mother's accomplice role are also strongly demonstrated. A great strength of this book is the choice of detail: the mother completes a book of crossword puzzles during the vigil; the brother becomes infatuated with a particular joke he wants to memorize; nurses leave a solitary rose on the bed of the newly dead at the hospice.

Shapiro is keenly interested in being with his sister right at the moment of her death. He describes the end: "one long, deep, and profoundly eerie moan . . . That moan, I'm certain, marked the end of Beth, the end of life, though the body went on breathing for another minute or so, each breath a little fainter, weaker, the body's electricity guttering down, dissolving, till there was no breath at all." (pp. 111-2)

He also analyzes whether this was "a good death." There had been many gifts: Beth's recognition of her importance, her reconciliation with her father, and her acceptance of her mother's devotion. However, Shapiro also keeps the reader cognizant of Beth's suffering and the now motherless child, the spouseless husband and the myriad other ways that Beth's death marked a void.

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Annotated by:
Davis, Cortney

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

This pocket-sized book contains stories from the home front--poems about patients the nurse-author tends in their apartments and in her clinic. Often, the patients speak, teaching us not only what it's like to be elderly and lonely, but also how to view mainstream healthcare from a different perspective.

Most important, we learn about the courage with which these patients cope with illness and poverty, and how nurses honor their patients' choices through non-judgmental caring. Outstanding poems include "The Language of Hearts," "Passages," "Lower Midline Surgical Scar," "The Screamer in Room 4," and "Home Remedies for the Blues."

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Sugar

Huyler, Frank

Last Updated: Dec-21-1999
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A two-year-old girl is brought to the Emergency Room. Her father believes there's nothing wrong with her, but the mother says that earlier the child had looked "blank," and is sure there's a problem. The physician tries to work out what might be wrong.

The child seems fine, but he automatically looks for signs of abuse, and the triage nurse suggests the parents, who are African-American and on Medicaid, are there because they want "something for free" (127). There are other patients waiting, the child's vital signs are fine, the father wants to leave.

As the doctor is leaving the examining room, he asks whether she might have taken someone's medication, and the mother mentions that the child's grandmother takes "sugar pills," hypoglycemics. They test the child's blood sugar and it is dangerously low. She is admitted to the hospital.

The physician tells the mother she has saved her child's life, and then considers how lucky they had all been--"I felt sick, cold, and damp, terrified by what I had almost missed" (131). He says that since then, he often thinks of the child, "alive in the world, going out into it, . . . decade after decade ahead."

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Apostles of Light

Douglas, Ellen

Last Updated: Jan-11-1999
Annotated by:
Taylor, Nancy

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

To take care of Aunt Martha, a Mississippi family agrees to a cousin's moving in with her; cousin Howie then maneuvers the family into running a home for the elderly. Martha agrees because Lucas, a physician with whom she's had a long relationship, will come to live there. As more elders come and as they get sick, the methods (restraints, use of drugs, unclean conditions) of Howie and his hired staff become a threat to all.

Martha and Lucas are rendered powerless by their inability to make the family believe their side of the story; even Harper, the family's longtime African-American butler, cannot help. Because he fears that Howie will sedate both of them into oblivion, Lucas decides to burn the house down--after killing several of the "prisoners" first.

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Three Lives

Stein, Gertrude

Last Updated: Jul-05-1998
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Collection (Novellas)

Summary:

This first published work of fiction by Gertrude Stein includes two stories, "The Good Anna" (71 pp.) and "The Gentle Lena" (40 pp.); and a novella, "Melanctha" (151 pp.) Each one is a psychological portrait of the named protagonist. All three are members of the lower socioeconomic stratum of the fictional town of Bridgepoint.

"The Good Anna" tells the story of a German immigrant who kept house for Miss Mathilda. Anna was honest, steadfast, and loyal as the day is long, but she was also stern and difficult to deal with. Anna's special friend was Mrs. Lehntman, the romance of her life. After Miss Mathilda moved to a far country, Anna took in boarders for a living, didn't make much money, and after a while died. "The Gentle Lena" is the story of another German servant girl who married unhappily and died shortly after the birth of her fourth child.

"Melanctha" is an extended portrait of Melanctha Herbert, a mulatto woman, and her unhappy love affair with Dr. Jeff Campbell, the doctor who took care of Melanctha's mother during her final illness. Much of the novella consists of protracted conversations between Melanctha and Jeff and extensive descriptions of their respective mental states.

Eventually the two lovers drifted apart. Melanctha took up with Jem Richards, "who always had to know what it was to have true wisdom." But that relationship didn't work out either. Melanctha became depressed and considered suicide. After she recovered from depression, she developed consumption and died.

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Before It Hits Home

West, Cheryl

Last Updated: Jul-03-1998
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Summary:

Follows the last few months in the life of Wendal Bailey, an African-American bisexual male in his early 30's. Examined in this drama are Wendal's two worlds; one which revolves around his lovers, the other based in the home of his extended family - his mother, father, "aunt", brother and 12-year-old son. After nearly dying of AIDS, Wendal comes home to regain his strength and find comfort, but a festive evening celebrating his return turns into a disaster. Shortly after this debacle, the only support and love he finds as he lies in his death- bed comes from an unexpected source - his previously stern, disapproving and homophobic father.

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Rumors of Separate Worlds

Coles, Robert

Last Updated: Dec-16-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

The title of this volume is taken from William Carlos Williams's Patterson, where the spray over the falls on the Patterson River "brings in the rumors of separate worlds." In the Introduction Coles evokes his friendship with Williams and Williams's vision as the stimulus for this poetry.

The first section consists of poems evoking incidents and people from the author's childhood. The second section includes a number of militant poems from Coles's 1960's work with black children in the South, and later poems dealing with Nicaragua and Northern Ireland. The final section, entitled "On the Day Jesus Christ Was Born," is a set of Christmas poems evoking various times and places in the poet's life.

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Delivery

Derricotte, Toi

Last Updated: Dec-10-1996
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In "Delivery," an African-American woman deals with the issues of personal identity for herself and her soon-to-be-born child. This child is alternatively a scheming enemy, a gentle baby, and an awesome stranger. Similarly, the staff around the speaker are variously accomplices in a persecutory treatment, or helpmates in a difficult but joyful experience. The male doctors tend not to listen to the speaker, who herself has trouble knowing to what part of her own feelings she should listen. By the end, the narrator gives birth to a male son, whom she wants to protect, but who feels like a stranger.

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