patricia j. williams

For blacks, describing needs has been a dismal failure as political activity. It has succeeded only as a literary achievement. The history of our need is certainly moving enough to have been called poetry, oratory, epic entertainment - but it has never been treated by white institutions as the statement of a political priority. (I don’t mean to undervalue the liberating power for blacks of such poetry, oratory, and epic; my concern is the degree to which it has been compartmentalized by the larger culture as something other than political expression.) […] Even white descriptions of ‘the blues’ tend to remove the daily hunger and hurt from need and abstract it into a mood. And whoever could legislate against depression? Particularly something as rich, soulful, and sonorously productive as black depression.
—  Patricia J. Williams in The Alchemy of Race and Rights: diary of a law professor, 1991
There are moments in my life when I feel as though a part of me is missing. There are days when I feel so invisible that I can’t remember what day of the week it is, when I feel so manipulated that I can’t remember my own name, when I feel so lost and angry that I can’t speak a civil word to the people who love me best. Those are the times when I catch sight of my reflection in store windows and am surprised to see a whole person looking back. Those are the times when my skin becomes gummy as clay and my nose slides around on my face and my eyes drip down to my chin. I have to close my eyes at such times and remember myself, draw an internal picture that is smooth and whole; when all else fails, I reach for a mirror and stare myself down until the features reassemble themselves, like lost sheep.
—  Patricia J. Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor
Join us at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday!

The Brooklyn Book Festival, the biggest and best literary extravaganza in NYC, returns this Sunday. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite events below, including a panel of esteemed 5 Under 35 alums who’ll be on the main stage at 1 pm.

You can join us throughout the day at booth 210, where we’ll be celebrating our National Book Awards Longlists. There you’ll also be able to meet the co-founders of Call Me Ishmael, one of our Innovations in Reading Prize Honorees, who’ll be there with a special surprise!

PLUS, you can pick up t-shirts and limited edition jerseys from The Other NBA, the greatest basketball game in Literary history.


FEATURED: The National Book Foundation Presents 5 Under 35 Alums
1 pm on the Mainstage

Featuring Yelena Akhtiorskaya, Danielle Evans, and Kirstin Valdez Quade. Moderated by Amity Gaige.


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