Today’s post is from my dear friend Andi Cumbo-Floyd. She has been a consistent encouragement and inspiration to me, both as a writer and as a woman striving for justice in our corners of the world. Her latest book, Steele Secrets, releases on February 9. Today she is here to share a little bit about that book and about writing for justice.
At this precise moment in my life, I am teetering between tears and glee. You see, I have a book coming out soon, and I care very much about this creation of mine. . . More though, I care about the situations and stories that inspired it.
See, my book is about justice.
It’s also about a teenage girl who falls in love for the first time, about a community struggling with it’s own truth, and about a mother and daughter who carry each other. But mostly it’s about justice.
The basic plot of the book is that Mary Steele finds herself committed to the fight to save an abandoned slave cemetery. Through the course of the book she encounters the racism in her small town and has to deal with some tough personal questions about her place in the world, too. Most of the time, I hope anyone who reads it walks away with a sense that they enjoyed the read and that they have some questions to explore. That’s really the ideal book – one that captures a reader’s attention and leaves them wanting to know more.
But sometimes, sometimes I let myself dream a little bigger and hope that the book brings some real change, that it inspires people to save historic African American cemeteries, that it pushes people to push into the systems of racism in their home communities, that it urges the reader inward to root out the racism she has been taught.
Hence the uneasy balance of tears and glee. I’ve done the work of racial justice for long enough to know that I cannot make anyone care – or even acknowledge – what they will not choose to care or see. So this book is going into the world with all the care I can give it, and yet I know it will mostly be ignored (and almost every book is), and I know it will also likely be attacked.
Still, I’ll take the tears if it means that just one person walks with Mary Steele on her journey and comes out ready to act in their own community. Sometimes the work of justice is as small as 237 pages.
Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, four dogs, four cats, six goats, and 23 chickens. Her previous books include The Slaves Have Names and Writing Day In and Day Out. Her new Young Adult novel Steele Secrets will be released on February 9th. Connect with Andi at her website, andilit.com.