Black in the Middle brings the voices of Black Midwesterners front and center. Filled with compelling personal narratives, thought-provoking art, and searing commentaries, this anthology explores the various meanings and experiences of blackness throughout the Rust Belt, the Midwest, and the Great Plains. Bringing together people from major metropolitan centers like Detroit and Chicago as well as smaller cities and rural areas where the lives of Black residents have too often gone unacknowledged, this collection is a much-needed corrective to the narrative of the region.
Within Black in the Middle, there is a horizon of experience that sits in the valley of uncomfortable realities. Through well-crafted essays, poems, photography and other musings on everyday life, the anthology shares the inner workings of some families who make due with what little they are given or build, with worn-out tools, a future on their own terms ... The honesty in the essays, the emergency in the poetry, and the intensity of the photographs and paintings help to sharpen the edge of what it means to be Black in the middle of anything, which is the sum of our fears and the hope that manifests itself in our dreams. Black in the Middle reminded me of a home imagined and of a home realized as someone who grew up in the Midwest.
At just over 200 pages, Williamson’s book is slender but somehow feels bigger, sprawling and a little chaotic ... Though esoteric, Black in the Middle ... underscores the bittersweet truth about being Black in America, not just in the Midwest: Loving a place doesn’t mean it loves you back.
Williamson (Scandalized My Name), director of the Black Midwest Initiative, presents a timely and evocative anthology of essays, poetry, photographs, and interviews in order 'to make visible the struggle and the agony, yes, but also the diversity and richness of black Midwestern life.' ... By calling forth the full range of the Black Midwestern experience, this bracing anthology offers crucial insights into why the region is the epicenter of current protests against police brutality and racial injustice.