Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Book– New York Times’ Bestselling author Jodi Picoult does it again with another one of her remarkable novels tackling prominent, arbitrary controversies of today’s times. This novel was so captivating, that I ended up not only borrowing the printed copy from the library, but listened to eAudiobook on the Libby app at every opportunity:  in the car, making dinner, cleaning the house, etc.

Ruth is a single mother of a high school honors student and a Labor and Delivery Nurse of Mercy-West Haven Hospital of 20 years. She is a person of color.

Turk dons a Swastika tattoo, a Confederate flag arm sleeve, oversees a white power website, and is a distinguished leader in the movement. He and his wife Brittany, are white supremacists. She just gave birth to their son, Davis.

After a brief encounter checking Davis’ vitals, Turk and Brittany make a point to remove Ruth from their service. They write, “NO AFRICAN AMERICAN PERSONNEL TO CARE FOR THIS PATIENT,” on a post-it note and affix it to their child’s file. When the unit is short staffed however, Ruth has no choice but to watch over baby Davis while the other nurses handle a medical emergency. But then, baby Davis goes into cardiac distress. Unforeseeable circumstances leave Ruth with two choices: intervene and go against the charge nurse’s orders and the wishes of the parents, or do nothing and break the nurse’s oath.

Readers are challenged to question whether Ruth should disobey the orders she’s been given by the hospital, or care for the baby to try to save him. This riveting story underpins racial discrimination and freedom of choice and expression. It confronts issues of power, privilege, and race in the United State’s justice system and brings to light the realities that African-Americans face every day, which white people often take for granted.

Above all, Small Great Things invites conversation about the implicit biases we hold and how our actions or inactions can ultimately be a disservice to others. Racism is very much alive in the U.S. and this story illustrates the societal ramifications microaggressions play in the lives of underrepresented groups in our country.

This title is available in print book format, Large Print, and as an eAudiobook in Overdrive.

Get Out (2017)

Movie–I don’t really like horror movies. But, I do like good movies, and I’m always motivated to see as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible. So, that’s how I found myself checking out and somewhat begrudgingly watching Get Out, a horror movie with serious racial themes.

Chris, an African American photographer, hesitantly goes to his white girlfriend Rose’s house for the weekend to meet her family. His best friend warns him that no good will come of this. In scenes reminiscent of The Stepford Wives, Chris notices that something is “off” about the African American groundskeeper and housekeeper. Then the family’s friends come for an annual party, and things get even weirder. Chris quickly realizes he needs to leave. But, will he be able to get out?

Written and directed by Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele fame), Get Out has been getting critical acclaim since its release in early 2017, so it was really no surprise when it earned nominations for four of the big categories at the Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor for Daniel Kaluuya). Although it was outside my comfort zone, I’m glad I watched it (well, all except for the parts that got so violent that I covered my eyes). If you are interested in a well-made horror movie that also tackles race issues and might just win an Oscar, then this is for you.