The Coffee Will Make You Black
Reading Group's On-line Chat Transcript for Our December Selection
A Long Way from Home
Click to order via
Published by Harper Collins, August 1999
March 1st 2000 9:00 PM EST
Check out the current reading list
[Thumpert6488] Hello Troy, how are you doing this evening?
aalbc> whats up yall!
[jennifer] I know you have Carey
[Careycarey] Big crowd tonight!
[jennifer] hey aa
aalbc> So early too!
[jdbaxter] hi aalbc
[Careycarey] Hello Troy
[jennifer] <----- on her BEST behavior tonight Carey...lol
[Thumpert6488] OK, it's official it's time to start our discussion of A Long Way From Home
[jennifer] I changed the name to protect the guilty
[Careycarey] Ms thing is that the name you use on the board?
[jennifer] all right Thumper ...where shall we start?
[msthing] yes, I think
[Thumpert6488] Remember, the system will bump you off when you don't type anything for a
little while, so don't panic. If it happens simply log
- back on. *smile8
[Careycarey] Think? (ms thing)
[msthing] thanks for that bit of info
[jennifer] ahem....where shall we start?
[Thumpert6488] OK, I had some problems with the book
[msthing] msthing is my screen name. what are you referring to board?
[Careycarey] Where Is our guest?
aalbc> NOTE: make sure you click the "float" button on the upper right hand
side, then maximize the resulting window
[msthing] thumpet, what problems did you have with the book
[jennifer] Thumper ...aside from the folks having babies what else didn't sit well with
[Careycarey] Ms thing , Nothing don't worry about it *smile*
[Thumpert6488] I don't know if it was my modern day thinking g that got in the way or
what, but some of the action of the characters didn't make
- sense to me.
[msthing] i thought the choice was very apropos for the month of Feb
aalbc> ANOTHER NOTE: A Long Way From Home was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for
best fiction. Winners will be announced on Thursday April 6,
- 2000, on FOX TV.
[Careycarey] Jen, I thought the white charecters where white washed.
[jdbaxter] let's start with the slaves' idea of freedom, with the exception of a few they
were content to stay on the plantation
[hunnyrider] refresh my memory about the book its been awhile
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[jennifer] let's remember that our view of slavery is different from the time
[msthing] jd, they knew no other way of life
[Careycarey] Jd I agree I didn't like that about them
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[msthing] I'm gonna play devil's advocate. They were scared of the unknown. Can we blame
[jdbaxter] i agree msthing---i guess it just irritated me
[Thumper6488] OK, I"m back
[hunnyrider] not really..i'm still scared
[Careycarey] Ms thing , but wouldn't you think freedom would be more important
[jennifer] jd ... all though this is a bad analogy it's like not understanding how a
battered woman stays with the man that beats her
[jennifer] that's just the way she lives
[msthing] We can sit back and criticize, but we cannot begin ti imagine what their frame
of mind was like
[jennifer] tru MsT
TO Thumper6488> I just dropped connie an email -- can't call her..
[Thumper6488] True, but some of the actions contradict what we know about slavery
[jdbaxter] sad to say but the scars of slavery are still with us today
[msthing] jen, that's a hell of an analogy
[jennifer] like what Thumper?
[Careycarey] I think that's what bothered me most about the book. We didn't see enough
interaction between the slaves other than when they were
- being subservant.
[msthing] What was interesting about the generations, is that with each successive
generation, they got more and more fed up with the treatment of
- the whites and their lot in life
[Thumper6488] Like Clara's father sticking around until she was 19 years old?
[Careycarey] I see Jen's point!
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[Samirah] Hi everyone
[msthing] he samirah
[hunnyrider] hi samirah
[Careycarey] Ms thing, but the book didn't express that.
[msthing] I thought it did? Beginning with Clara, then Susan
[jdbaxter] carey, the relationships described in this book (husband and wife) showed that
they related better to each between they didn't see each
- other until the weekend---think that could be part of the problem today between black
men and women?
[jdbaxter] hi samirah
[Thumper6488] And what about Clara blurting out that her mother wanted to be lazy that day
because of the rain. She was too old to make that kinda
[msthing] jd, are you saying long distance relationships are better than the real thing?
[Careycarey] Oh jd that would take a hugh discussion!
[msthing] maybe parttime is a better term to use for their situation
[jdbaxter] but clara was what you call a strong-willed child----no control for that
tongue--she's the one that wanted freedom
[Careycarey] Maybe it did Ms thing but I didn't quite feel it.
[msthing] we all know it is easier to get along with someone when we only see them
[Thumper6488] JD: but a slip of the tongue could get you or somebody killed. She should've
known that at that age.
[msthing] thumper you are so right. that child needed her but whooped!
[hunnyrider] true dat
[Careycarey] Ms thing, I almost got the feeling as if it was ook to be a slave as long as
it was a madison house slave.
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[Careycarey] True what Hunny?
[Kalifa] Type HERE Peace
[jdbaxter] no, but for many reasons our relatinships suffer because of not knowing how to
deal with intimacy as oppose to the our other b usiness
- in life
[hunnyrider] she was too fresh
[msthing] i did come away with that from reading the book. they felt they had it made and
were better off than the field hands.
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[jdbaxter] hi kalifah
[Careycarey] Hunny oh!
[Kalifa] what's the topic of discussion?
[Thumper6488] The topic is A Long Way From Home
[Careycarey] Thumper do you care to coral this thing in?
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[Thumper6488] Yes, I do
[Careycarey] Okay your on
[Thumper6488] Did you all get the impression that the house slaves suffered no hard times
[hunnyrider] i did
[Careycarey] Ms thing, I did too.
[msthing] oh yes, definitely. they almost pitted the house slaves against the field hands
[Careycarey] Yes, it was a soft soap.
[jdbaxter] yes, they had a pretty easy life---not very realistic
[Thumper6488] Another point +
[Careycarey] I wanted to ask Ms. Briscoe if this was fiction or what?
[Thumper6488] Susan calling herself going to the train depot running away
[weber2000] well it was a lot easier let's be real
[msthing] let's not forget that they did work hard, just not under the austere conditions
the field hands did
[jdbaxter] however, if the salves got "too attached" they were put back in their
[Careycarey] Please ms thing, hard is in those fields
[jdbaxter] i agree msthing, the house slaves had to pay the price
[hunnyrider] i think it was based on some fact
[Careycarey] What price?
[weber2000] yaeh, but they we pitted agaist eact other purposely
[jdbaxter] being sold, separation from family
[Careycarey] I don't think it was purposely but just a way to find a spot in life.
[msthing] what i found interesting was the mentality. there was a whole different
mentality between the field hands and the house slaves
[Careycarey] Jd that was imposed on all slaves.
[Careycarey] Ms thing was ther e really , explain?
[Careycarey] Did we really get to hear from the field slaves/
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[jdbaxter] the house slaves were no freer than the field hands---relatively, they both
worked hard and were punished if they didn't
[tabonnefee] what have I missed?
[Careycarey] It seemed the author was to busy telling us how NICE the massa was!
[msthing] okay, do you remember how clara was that time she went into one of the field
hands hut? how she didn't even want to sit down I think it
- was Clara, it may have been susan
[Thumper6488] Msthing: it was Clara
[msthing] and no carey we didn't get the field hand's perspectives
[Careycarey] Yeah I remeber, the house was a mess AND???
[msthing] thank you thumper
[Careycarey] Ms.,So how can you make that statement?
[weber2000] well if you were fed, better you'd act better too. i think you have to realise
that being a field slaves and house slaves were two
- different worlds.
[jdbaxter] i don't think clara intentionally felt she was better than the field
slaves---because she had not been in the hut that first look
- shocked her
TO tabonnefee> send me you email address and I'll send you the text of the chat so far
[msthing] it was almost like she was stuck up too good to be in there with them
[tabonnefee] but the story wasn't about the field hands ... it was about Ms Briscoe's
[Careycarey] T-bone did you like the book?
[Careycarey] Okay ms, but I didn't see it that way.
[jdbaxter] hi tbone
[tabonnefee] Carey ... I like it "affectively" ...it was a story
[tabonnefee] jd ... only Carey can get away with calling me Tbone...lol
[tabonnefee] but I don't think she did the story justice
[Careycarey] There you go T what does that mean affectively?
[Thumper6488] I also had a hard time rectifing Clara's silence on Susan and Ellen's
[msthing] T, do you feel it was a realistic depiction of slavery in those times?
[jdbaxter] tbone, i would like to hear more about 'passin' because i think there were many
incidents of the eefect of color on how a slave was
[tabonnefee] I mean I could read it
[tabonnefee] MsT ... no I don't
[tabonnefee] we always get the massa's side even when we write it
[Careycarey] Okay I'll make it easier, give me a number 1-10
[tabonnefee] well next to Wake of the WInd I'd give it a 2
[tabonnefee] but it read easy enough
[weber2000] true true true T
aalbc> I have to get to Coopers book!
[Careycarey] Ann agrees T, What about the rest of you?
[Thumper6488] Yes, it read real easy
[msthing] i agree T, it was what i would call an easy read
[hunnyrider] its not my favorite one of her books
[Careycarey] Me too Troy!
[weber2000] coopers the bomb
[jdbaxter] it read easy but was not realistic
[tabonnefee] Wake of the Wind is an excellent book ... I think it's more realistic and
also a very sweet love story
[Careycarey] Why was it not realistic JD?
[msthing] when did we read wake of the wind
[Careycarey] Okay y'all, them why was this book nominated for an award?
[msthing] is wake of the winf by connie too?
[tabonnefee] I heard an interview with Ms Briscoe on TOm Pope ...she said that the book
was about the two "white lookin women" on the walls of her
aalbc> Carey there is definetly a different dynamic when the author is present -- I
suspect the last four posts would not have been made if Connie
- showed up
[Thumper6488] Carey: I'm not on the nominating committe
[tabonnefee] I waswondering why she didn't go further into the "passin" issue
[tabonnefee] Wake is by J California Cooper
[Samirah] that was written in this book
[Samirah] at the end
[Careycarey] Yeah, I wouldn't think so either, do you like it this way Troy?
[tabonnefee] the only thing she really said about passin was when the one man was at the
twon square with one of the two
[tabonnefee] sorry ...I haven't read the book since the summer
[Careycarey] Thumper I know what you mean.
[jdbaxter] i agree tbone---she makes references to the salves who look white but doesn't
take it any further---if this is a story of her ancestors
- life on the plantation, etc. then that issue should have been addressed more
[hunnyrider] i can't really remember it either
[Careycarey] I agree jd and T.
aalbc> Msthing - J. California Cooper page on AALBC http://aalbc.com/j.htm
(there is also an audio interview --you'll fall in love with cooper
[Careycarey] Troy what did you think of the book?
[tabonnefee] that book would have been a 5+ if she would have pursued issues a little
[msthing] thank you i'v eread a couple of her other books
[Careycarey] Be honest now *smile*
[Samirah] susan didn't want to pass, it didn't seem to be an issue with her.
[weber2000] Cooper is the bomb!!!!!
[Thumper6488] The passing issue didn't sit well with me either
[Careycarey] Why not Thump?
[msthing] the passing issue would have made that book twice as long
[Thumper6488] Samirah: That's my problem, why wasn't it an issue
[Thumper6488] If the only thing holding me back from freedom is pretending to be white, I
would have been gone!
[tabonnefee] when she used the passin issue to deflate the ego of that one man I think she
owed it to the characters and the reader to go a little
- further in depth
aalbc> Carey, I did not read (rather finish the book) Just not my cup of tea and freee
time is too scare for me
[tabonnefee] lol Thumper
[Samirah] because she had no need to pass
[Samirah] she was fine being a house slave
[Thumper6488] Samirah: I can't buy that
[Thumper6488] Why take a lot of crap from people when you don't have too
[Samirah] why not
[Thumper6488] why so
[Careycarey] I understand troy, to be honest, I don't think you missed much. Really
[jdbaxter] i don't think susan was satisfied being a slave but what was she going to do?
[tabonnefee] I don't think she was "just fine" with it but it was her life
[Samirah] because it would be worse if they would figure out you weren't what you
presented yourself to be
[tabonnefee] Carey ... play nice ...lol'
[weber2000] I hated the book!!
aalbc> Carey -- I like it better this way but the author can clarify intent and other
things -- so both have benefits.
[Samirah] and when that happens. you won't be accepted by whites or blacks
[tabonnefee] really weber?
[Thumper6488] Who could they know the difference? She looked white, she saw how white
[Samirah] remember Alex Haley's Queen?
[Careycarey] Hey, like thump has said , if you have a skin skin this might not be a place
to hang out.*smile*
[Samirah] the truth always has a way of coming out
[hunnyrider] i should have looked over the book again..i hardly remember it
[tabonnefee] weber ... just curious ... are you male or female?
[Careycarey] You are excused Hunny, but next time *LOL*
[weber2000] i don't think it sold very well. i own a black bookstore and most customers
who are her fans passed.
[Thumper6488] Yeah, but it would have been a necessary risk. The color issue was more on
[Samirah] Queen was passing as white (french) and when they found out, she was beaten and
tossed out into the street
[hunnyrider] now that book i remember
[tabonnefee] Carey .. are you the literature police?
[Careycarey] Weber I missed something what did they pass on.
[weber2000] the book.
[Careycarey] Don't start with me T!!!
[tabonnefee] lol Carey
aalbc> weber2000 -- I surprise to hear that about the book -- you missed this earlier
post "A Long Way From Home was nominated for an NAACP Image
- Award for best fiction"
[Careycarey] This book?
[hunnyrider] i've read better ones then this
[hunnyrider] what else was nominated
[tabonnefee] me too Hunny
[Careycarey] I wonder who was on the commitee?
[weber2000] most of her work was comercial fiction. she's trying to get into lit fiction
it just doesn't work for her fans
[Careycarey] Does anyone know?
[Thumper6488] hunny: maybe that's our problem. Have we become too jaded on our perception
aalbc> hunnyr -- I'll look that up and send the other nonimee in my next newsletter
[tabonnefee] I agree weber .. this read like the fluff commercial fiction that we read
much too much of
[Thumper6488] Carey: no idea on the other nominees
[msthing] good point thump. maybe we need to evaluate our perception of slavery
[Careycarey] Okay Troy that's a bet.
[Careycarey] Well what other boks about slavewry would you all suggest.
[weber2000] a good slavery book is slaves in the family. now that's deep!!
[Thumper6488] I loved Family by J. California cooper
[msthing] there are some nonfiction books such as letters from a slave that may be more
[Careycarey] How do you propose we do this elevation ms, thing?
[tabonnefee] MsT .... our perception of slavery is highly skewed based on the information
[msthing] evaluation? I don't know. what is every body's perception of slavery in one to
[hunnyrider] i couldn't have survived with the attitude i have now
[tabonnefee] we are privy to many years of "history" that has compunded our
thoughts on the issue
[msthing] Like the bible we can only base it on what we read.
[Thumper6488] Mammy and Prissy from Gone with the wind.
[Thumper6488] Then there's Roots
aalbc> AND THE NOMINEES FOR FICTION ARE:"A LONG WAY FROM HOME" , "ABIDE
WITH ME", "BLUES: FOR ALL THE CHANGES"(Nikki Giovanni),
- "THOSE BONES ARE NOT MY CHILD"
[Careycarey] Okay ms thing---Living in bondage, being of easy disposal. Like a dog .
[weber2000] roots was alot more realistic than you think. my great grand mother wacthed it
with me as achild she was 95 at the time.
[msthing] you're right hunny. we wouldn't be able to survive with our current attitudes,
but our attitudes wouldn't have been allowed to develop
- to the extent they are today back then
[hunnyrider] i liked abide with me
[Thumper6488] weber: exactly, which is why I had a problem with this book.
[tabonnefee] Kindred is an interesting book to read ... that takes slavery and puts in the
[Thumper6488] weber: it was like I was reading about two opposite worlds
[Careycarey] Good Job Troy.!
[hunnyrider] i'm tryin to get the library to order Kindred and Those bones
[weber2000] good point thumper!!
[Thumper6488] tabonnefee: EXACTLY!! I LOVE KINDRED
[msthing] okay carey. not being able to think for yourself. being treated as a piece of
property with no intelligence what so ever.
[tabonnefee] those bones was an interesting read
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aalbc> KINDRED -- my cup of tea!
[Thumper6488] I still feel that Those bones was the best book written last year
[tabonnefee] I imagine that will win pothumously (sp?)
[weber2000] kindred was hot!! i know what you're say thumper. i hated this book.
[Careycarey] Really Thumper. Msblkngold doesn't think so *smile*
[weber2000] if you wanna read a well written book read SUGAR
[Thumper6488] Carey: Really, all joking aside. It's deep, poetic, lyrical, finely
[Careycarey] I'll have to take "bones" to my source
[hunnyrider] so everybody liked those books better then this one
[tabonnefee] weber...I'm halway into Sugar and I love it!!!
[tabonnefee] lol Carey ... you go run to Ms Ann
[hunnyrider] who is it by
[Careycarey] You know I believe you, Best of the year is a big reach
[tabonnefee] Bernice McFadden
[weber2000] isn't it great. wait till you get to the end.
[Careycarey] You got it T
[tabonnefee] weber ... I just love Pearl and Sugar's diametrically opposed friendship
[weber2000] the best part of owning a black bookstore is you get all kinds of feed back.
[Careycarey] Seriously though. if Thumper say it's that good then I must check it out.
he's yet to let me down.
[Thumper6488] Can't discuss Sugar
[tabonnefee] Weber....where is your bookstore
aalbc> Visit http://aalbc.com/sugar.htm to
learn more about Sugar
[Careycarey] Hey, who was susan's father?
[Thumper6488] Sugar is under consideration for the new year thumperscorner lilst
[tabonnefee] thanks Troy
[weber2000] in jamicia
[tabonnefee] ooohhh .... I'll come there to get ALL my book s...lol
[Thumper6488] Susan father was her massa in Richmond
[weber2000] Jamicia NY
[msthing] carey, susan's father was mass williard, although they never confirmed that
[jdbaxter] i wamt to know that too carey
[Careycarey] Back to the book. Was that suppose to be fiction or what?
[Thumper6488] why did Clara keep it a secret?
[tabonnefee] that's a looong drive for some books
[hunnyrider] didn't she look like her sister
[Careycarey] Yeah why the big secret?
[tabonnefee] carey .... borderline historical fiction
[jdbaxter] why did she keep it secret?
[Careycarey] You bet T, a big border!!!
[weber2000] look guy it's been real but my kids have to go to bed. see ya soon.
[jdbaxter] bye weber
[Thumper6488] Ibye weber, thanks for coming
[Careycarey] Bye web hey what been selling?
[msthing] the book didn't say why clara went to her grave with the children's father
identity, but she never told
[tabonnefee] just like in the sally hemming story ... Sally says to her daughter Harriet,
"Sure you're his daughter but you'll never be his child"
- ...so why not hide it
aalbc> weber2 put'em in bed before hand like me (smile)
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[jdbaxter] makes sense tbone---
[tabonnefee] night weber
[Thumper6488] kokki, the chat software will kick you off if you don't type anything. So
don't be alarm if you've been disconnected. it's cool.
- Simply log back on. *smile*
[tabonnefee] lol ... Carey ...I'm hurtin you for having folks call me Tbone
[Careycarey] T-bone-we free- I'm sorry *LOL*
[weber2000] oh before i forget i have a novel coming out by kensington in aug. it's called
LOOKIN' FOR LUV it's good com. fiction alot of drama
[msthing] it's easier to type T
[tabonnefee] yours Weber??
[msthing] who's it by
aalbc> weber2 send me the ISBN and I'll build you a page!
[Thumper6488] weber: is that you?
[Careycarey] Okay web you know we will not cut you any slack if it's not! *smile*
[weber2000] i don't want you to
[tabonnefee] how about Tab then MsT
[jdbaxter] have any of you done a family tree?
[Thumper6488] weber: I'm still looking forward to reading it. I was going to drop you a
line to let you know that I haven't forgotten about you.
[msthing] okay, i can type that
[weber2000] you got it troy
[msthing] no jd, i never have
[tabonnefee] not me jd .only know my mother's side
[weber2000] thanks thump. i'll have galleys in a few weeks.
[jdbaxter] i have started with my father's side---just thought someone had some advice
[Careycarey] Okay web it's a deal. bye
[msthing] i'm just the opposite tab, i only know my father's side
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aalbc> I've done a family tree
[Careycarey] Lets hear something Troy.
[tabonnefee] isn't that "funny" MsT ...and a shame too
[jdbaxter] how long did it take you, aalbc
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[Careycarey] Hi martha what took you so long?
[hunnyrider] its so many people in my family..my grandma had13 kids....i've never met all
of my cousin on my momo's side
[tabonnefee] wow hunny ...that's a HUGE family
[martha7777] FINE WHO'S EVERYONE
[jdbaxter] hi martha
[tabonnefee] hey Martha
[hunnyrider] my dad's mom had 9..so it will take me awhile
[martha7777] WHAT'S THE TOPIC.
[msthing] hi martha. this is my first visit, and i'm having a great time
[Careycarey] Boy Thump is this the biggest turn out?
aalbc> Carey it is deep -- my typing skills don;t permit me to relate much detail. But
it make you think about the arbitrainess of racial
- definitions and how they are used against you in this country.
[tabonnefee] right now we
[tabonnefee] oops ...lol
[tabonnefee] right now we're discussing family trees
aalbc> This is NOT the biggest turn out.
[Careycarey] I understand Troy.
[martha7777] IS MS. BRISCOE HERE
aalbc> Martha, I'm sorry to say Briscoe stood us up!
[Careycarey] Really Troy "women gotta"?
[Thumper6488] Martha: sorry to say, she haven't shown up, and we have five minutes left in
[tabonnefee] amen on the arbitrariness of racial definitions
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[jdbaxter] what is our book for next month?
[Careycarey] That's okay though about the no show. Tomarrow will be another day!!
aalbc> whoa, who was that martha
[tabonnefee] Marth Washington no doubt ...lol
[Thumper6488] beats me
[msthing] i don't know but she didn't want anything to do with us once she found out ms
briscoe wasn't here
[tabonnefee] yes...what is next month's selection?
[msthing] what is the book for next month
aalbc> Widemans' Two Cities
[Careycarey] Anyone care to make a brief comment about the next one?
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[jdbaxter] goodnight everyone
[tabonnefee] night jd
aalbc> Duty probably calls Thumper...
[msthing] goodnight everyone.
[Careycarey] I read brothers keepers and it was alright.
aalbc> Good night everyone!
aalbc> I liked brother keeper
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[tabonnefee] just all right Carey?
[hunnyrider] what is everyone reading right now
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aalbc> Tonights chat will be archived shortly Peace.