Cover image for These hands I know : African-American writers on family
These hands I know : African-American writers on family
Weaver, Afaa M. (Afaa Michael), 1951-
First edition.
Publication Information:
Louisville, Ky. : Sarabande Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
xi, 249 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS153.N5 T46 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



'These Hands I Know' offers readers the first-ever intimate view of the inner workings of black family life from the point of view of prose and poetry writers. This collection of seventeen essays includes portraits of fathers, mothers, nieces, brothers, grandparents, husbands, wives, and daughters-in short the full spectrum of absolute humanity in contemporary black families. Here, in letter form, a man speaks to his aunt, the family matriarch. A daughter rejects her father's ideas of African-American identity. A young woman holds her niece in her hands for the very first time. And a son faces his father as an old man and finally comes to terms with his failings. 'These Hands I Know' seeks to gather a resolutely honest picture of family life, however painful or joyous that truth may be."Family life is an insistent vessel traveling the space of our struggles to love and to be loved. . . . Africans and their descendants in America have always been nothing more and nothing lessthan human. If anything is constant and universal, it is suffering-personal, social, and political. If these essays offer anything, it is the affirmation of humanity."-From the Introduction by Afaa Michael Weaver Marketing Plans: Advertisements in key literary and trade magazines Newsletter, brochure, catalog, and postcard mailings Reader copies available to booksellers through participation in Book Sense Advance Access ProgramContributors include: Fred D'Aguiar Tara Betts GwendolynBrooks Karen Chandler Edwidge Danticat Jarvis Q. DeBerry Gerald Early Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Lise Funderburg Walter Warren Harper Honoree Fanonne Jeffers Trent Masiki E. Ethelbert Miller Marilyn Nelson Kalamu ya Salaam Della Scott Alice WalkerAlso available by Afaa Michael Weaver 'Multitudes: Poems Selected and New' TC $24.00, 1-889330-40-X * CUSA TP $14.95, 1-889330-41-8 * CUSA

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

A broad range of black family life is offered in this collection of essays, some reprinted and others original, from a variety of writers and poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker, Edwige Danticat, and Marilyn Nelson. Henry Louis Gates writes about the secret eccentricities of his mother's family; Trent Masiki laments his Ugandan father's alienation from the family, which resulted in cutting off access to intimate knowledge of African culture; Tara Betts recalls her eventual reconciliation with an emotionally distant father, which eases a lifelong cynicism about men. The 17 essays provide a broad cultural span of the African diaspora, from Africa to the Caribbean to the U.S., and are as evocative of geographic place as they are of one's place in the family as child, parent, or sibling. Remembrances range from the struggle to form and maintain families in the face of oppression and forced separation to recollections about swapping lies and telling painful truths. A joyous celebration of the variety and enduring humanity of black family life. --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

In his introduction, Weaver (English, Simmons Coll.) states accurately that this collection reveals "the inner workings of African-American families." Included in this remarkable compilation are 17 pieces, ranging from first-person narratives to poetry and even epistles, that honor mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, and other family members in honest and sometimes painful ways. The contributors include well-known authors like Gwendolyn Brooks, Karen Chandler, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Trent Masiki, and Alice Walker; newer writers Jarvis Q. DeBerry and Della Scott also offer testimonies. Throughout, the themes explored include death, abandonment, abuse, parenthood, segregation, racism, and sexism. What results is a series of intimate portraits that reveal family life as "an insistent vessel traveling the space of our struggles to love and be loved." Such struggle is inevitable, for as we see, not only must African American families address typical family problems but these problems are complicated by racism, economic struggle, and urban conflicts. Riveting and often emotionally charged, this work is highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries. Erica Swenson Danowitz, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Afaa Michael WeaverHenry Louis Gates, Jr.Jarvis Q. DeBerryFred D'AguiarHonoree Fanonne JeffersGwendolyn BrooksDella Taylor ScottLise FunderburgTrent MasikiMarilyn NelsonW. Warren HarperTara BettsEdwidge DanticatKaren ChandlerAlice WalkerGerald EarlyE. Ethelbert MillerKalamu ya Salaam
Introductionp. vii
Up the Hillp. 3
Roy Lee DeBerryp. 21
A Son in Shadowp. 31
The Tail of Colorp. 53
Keziahp. 67
My Country 'Tis of Theep. 81
Letter from Monticellop. 99
A Curious Absencep. 107
My Cleaning Ladyp. 121
From I'm Katherine: A Memoirp. 135
Peace Offeringsp. 163
The Future in My Armsp. 177
Making Noisep. 183
Brothers and Sistersp. 199
A Racial Education, Part Twop. 207
Fathering Wordsp. 217
Spirit Family of the Streetsp. 229
The Editorp. 237
Contributorsp. 239
Acknowledgmentsp. 247