Commentary Strange Fruit

Sixth-grader Marley Dias loves to read. But the books she was assigned in school never seemed to have protagonists who looked like her. So she started a nationwide book drive to collect 1,000 books featuring black girls as main characters.

By the time her self-imposed deadline came around (Feb. 1), Marley had amassed a collection she says is important not just for black girls, but for everyone.

“We all know that America is very, very, very diverse,” she tells us in this week’s show. “But we’re not really seeing it in the literature that we’re pushed to read.”

Marley says reading books about black girls’ lives makes her feel like her own experiences are part of a bigger, more universal story. “I know who I am,” she says, “but you still want to see it in other places, so you don’t feel like something that’s rare and that’s never really been around.”

In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, we talk about how a lynching postcard made its way into the table decor at a Joe’s Crab Shack in Minnesota (and how referring to a lynching as a “public execution” ignores the historical context of the act).

And we also send love to a young gay couple, Marquez Tolbert and Anthony Gooden, in Georgia. They’re recovering from injuries sustained when Gooden’s mother’s boyfriend poured boiling water on them as they slept. Georgia doesn’t have a hate crime law, so their assailant, Martin Blackwell, won’t be charged with a hate crime, though he allegedly told them, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” after the attack.

According to a police report, Blackwell told officers, “They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and help them out … They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”

In fact, they suffered severe burns that required skin grafts and are still in physical therapy and counseling. Gooden was placed in a medically induced coma for several weeks, and Tolbert has to wear compression garments for two years to help him heal. The couple has a GoFundMe page to raise money for their medical treatment.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects.