Into and Out Dislocation.
This appropriately titled book describes the dislocations of race, and the overlapping and sometimes conflicting alienations and identifications that are found there. Giscombe treats his blackness like a wound one takes morbid delight in "worrying" over. Even as he celebrates being different, being an intellectual, being unbound by race, it is not too long before his finger scratches the scab and the discussion returns to race.
Travelers often wind up learning more about themselves than about their destination. Travel books do not simply mirror what the writer sees; they also reflect who the writer is Giscombe's book is ostensibly about searching in and around Price George--in the province of British Columbia, rural Canada--for the history of John Robert Giscombe, a 19th-century miner and explorer who was born in Jamaica, died in Canada and is a distant relation. But rather than chronologically write about this search, Giscombe eruditely riffs back and forth across time and terrain. The reader sifts with him through as diverse as cycling (he bikes for hundreds of miles), train riding, academe and the job search shuffle, summary histories of black migrations Canada, to weather, patriotism, and most prominently, the correspondence and influence of geography on human identity.
Why would someone who values being able to "forget about being black" choose to live in a mainly nonblack environment, one that is inevitably always reminding one of one's blackness--an existence too often negatively defined by nonblacks? To his credit this is part of the question Giscombe explores in this leisurely-paced, but absorbing travel memoir of genealogical research. Worth an equally leisurely read, his questions often feel familiar, and his answers may leave readers wanting to explore even more personal questions of their own.
Kalamu ya Salaam is the moderator of CyberDrum, a list of more than 500 black writers and diverse supporters of literature.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||ya Salaam, Kalamu|
|Publication:||Black Issues Book Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2001|
|Previous Article:||Black Like Who?|
|Next Article:||Black Man Emerging -- Facing the Past and Seizing a Future in America.|