Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African-American, to touch their child. The hospital co …more
My thoughts !!SPOILERS!!
You ever read a good, entertaining, interesting novel that is also educational? rarely are those things compatible. It’s always either, or. But Small Great Things was exactly that. It was well written, well researched, informative, interesting, full of live, relatable characters, there was room for tears, smile, anger, stress, and life. it’s definitely THE book “for such a time as this.” Jodi wrote with such clarity that her message was obvious, and it’s that WE ALL have biases. Whether we know it or not we have them and it is up to us to educate ourselves. I’m just going to go over a few of the topics and some of the characters.
equality vs. equity
I think as a society we’ve preached equality for so long that we think it’s the way to go. That is what sounds fair. I’m not sure if equity is a new concept but I just heard about it in the last few years, may 3 years ago and it was via this picture:
Jodi Picoult touches on that towards the end of the novel. Where she gives the analogy of a blind child and a child who can see. She says giving both of them the same coloring book, is equality, but what good does it do the blind child. Equity is when you give the blind child a book in Braille. That is what is fair. It strikes me odd that we have missed that for so many years, and till this day people do not understand.
She also draws attention to the fact that society expecting people who started out late to catch up with those who started early doesn’t make sense. In terms of white americans and black americans, the fact the blacks were slaves for so long and came out of slavery with nothing has held them back, not laziness as people like to insinuate. If someone has had a years of advantage, how can the person who hasn’t catch up? hard work alone will not allow you to catch up. I really hope that is everyone’s take away from this book.
I really liked how Jodi explained racism. Racism isn’t only about overt hatred but it is institutionalized. I don’t think many people understand that concept. Institutional racism is when the system is set up in a way that non-white americans are not able to be successful or thrive.
Ruth reminded me of so many black women that I know personally. The ones that thrive at their jobs, skill wise, but not in an official status. Ruth was passed up for promotion even though she had seniority and many sang her praises, this displays the reality of so many black americans. Ruth is one of those women who do everything in their power to not appear like the stereotypical black woman. Many suppress their feelings of frustration and rightful emotions because they do not want to appear to be the “angry black woman.” Anytime a black woman expresses themselves they are called angry and bitter. This has caused many women to be silent. I think that’s why Ruth NEEDED to testify even though she knew it was going to hurt her case.
Oh Turk! what stood out to me about him was his awareness that his hatred wasn’t valid but forced himself to believe that it was. Also what stood out to me was how he learned that he can’t be overtly racist anymore so he hid behind being normal and acting normal. He said that this new tactic of blending in with the community was more powerful than going out and being openly racist. Because the fear of people not knowing made them more powerful.that is wild. I think most people know that white supremacist live amongst them but because they are so normal and shop at he same groceries stores as everyone else, we don’t really see them for who they are. That is indeed more scarier than people who are overtly racist.
What was HILARIOUS was finding out the Turk’s wife was half-black! That really made the book so much fun. It was a twist I wasn’t expecting.
Rachel is the opposite of Ruth and she is one of those people who don’t really care about fitting in or pleasing white americans. But in a way her ways are a little bit unhealthy. She makes literally EVERYTHING about race. The changing of names is something I have never really understood, many “conscious” black americans feel the need to adopt “african” sounding names and I just don’t get it. Also the fact that she associate all “good things” with white amercians was a bit problematic. Her thoughts about Ruth’s way of living as her wanting to be white didn’t sit well with me, because it seem like all ruth wants was a better life for her and her son, especially. The truth is, in many black communities drugs and crime are higher than in white communities, so not wanting to have a child around that is understandable. it is a sad reality but understanding
Kennedy is one of those well-meaning white americans who take pride in really making a difference in the community. I think like most people from various ethnicity, Kennedy didn’t really see or understand what it really means to be black in America. I like how she mentioned trying so hard to show that she wasn’t racist. I really liked her trip with Ruth to the store to go shopping. On her own, she realized how something as simple as shopping is different for her and Ruth. Kennedy REALLY showed her good intentions by learning on her own, opening her eyes, and not pretending racism doesn’t exist. I think that’s the attitude we all need to adopt. the willingness to learn and quit pretending that we don’t have some biases.
One of my favorite bits of the book was the court proceeding. I’ll never want to do litigation but I really love it!
Longest review EVER!! Have you read the Small Great Things? What did you think?