Richard Labonte/PrideSource reviews FROM WHERE WE SIT

“From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth,” edited by Victoria A. Brownworth. Tiny Satchel Press, 336 pages, $16.95 paper.

Editor Brownworth slots this anthology into the Young Adult genre, and, sure, teen characters are the focus of the stories. But there’s an elder sensibility in several that ought to entice older readers as well. That’s certainly the case with Jewelle Gomez’s “Caramelle 1864,” a spin-off from her celebrated 1991 novel, “The Gilda Stories.” Two young girls are at the story’s heart, but the theme of African-Americans defying repression – one that suffuses the collection – touches all ages. Craig Laurance Gidney’s “Bereft,” in which a black scholarship student at a Catholic school defies white bullies, is more youth-focused, as is Becky Birtha’s “Johnnieruth,” in which a tomboy’s sensed sexuality is stirred when she glimpses the shared affection of two women. Each of the 20 stories deals with what it means to be African-American, but the most searing is Lowell Boston’s “Ten to One,” in which a schoolboy, after defending himself from a white boy’s attack, is singled out by his redneck principal as the troublemaker. Asked to write an apology to the school, he scrawls, “I am not a nigger.”

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