stirring consideration of homeownership, fatherhood, race, faith, and
the history of an American city.
2016, Lawrence Jackson accepted a new job in Baltimore, searched for
schools for his sons, and bought a house. It would all be
unremarkable but for the fact that he had grown up in West Baltimore
and now found himself teaching at Johns Hopkins, whose vexed
relationship to its neighborhood, to the city and its history,
provides fodder for this captivating memoir in essays.
sardonic wit, Jackson describes his struggle to make a home in the
city that had just been convulsed by the uprising that followed the
murder of Freddie Gray. His new neighborhood, Homeland--largely
White, built on racial covenants--is not where he is "supposed"
to live. But his purchase, and his desire to pass some inheritance on
to his children, provides a foundation for him to explore his
personal and spiritual history, as well as Baltimore's untold
stories. Each chapter is a new exploration: a trip to the Maryland
shore is an occasion to dilate on Frederick Douglass's complicated
legacy; an encounter at a Hopkins shuttle-bus stop becomes a
meditation on public transportation and policing; and Jackson's
beleaguered commitment to his church opens a pathway to reimagine an
urban community through jazz.
is an extraordinary biography of a city and a celebration of our
capacity for domestic thriving. Jackson's story leans on the essay to
contain the raging absurdity of Black American life, establishing him
as a maverick, essential writer.