Open Book/Open Mind: Dr. Imani Perry, “Breathe: A Letter to My Sons”

Event Category: Education and Literature

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    A professor of African-American studies at Princeton, Perry is a prolific writer whose work, including her recent award-winning biography of the playwright Lorraine Hansberry, contributes to a fuller understanding of black history and culture. But in “BREATHE,” the scholar forsakes the safe harbor of academic objectivity for the wilds of personal vulnerability. She explores the terror, grace, and beauty of coming of age as a Black person in contemporary America and what it means to parent our children in a persistently unjust world.

    Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Imani Perry issues an unflinching challenge to society to see Black children as deserving of humanity. She admits fear and frustration for her African American sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable. However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love—finding beauty and possibility in life—and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition.

    Perry draws upon the ideas of figures such as James Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ida B. Wells. She shares vulnerabilities and insight from her own life and from encounters in places as varied as the West Side of Chicago; Birmingham, Alabama; and New England prep schools. Breathe offers a broader meditation on race, gender, and the meaning of a life well lived and is also an unforgettable lesson in Black resistance and resilience.

    Watchung Booksellers will have copies of the book for purchase and signing at the event.

    Please register to ensure a seat. This event is free thanks to grants from our Series Sponsors, Investors Foundation and The Montclair Foundation, and support from our in-kind Sponsor, Central Presbyterian Church Montclair.

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