by Langston Hughes, Illustrated by Arouni
Publication Date: Jul 21, 1994
List Price: $14.95 (store prices may vary)
Page Count: 72
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Parent Company: University of Oxford
Read Oxford University Press’s description of Black Misery
Book Reviewed by Troy Johnson
“Misery is when you heard
on the radio that the neighborhood
you live in is a slum but
you always thought it was home”
black misery is a picture book, but should not be confused with a children’s book (though children may relate to it). They book can be read in 10 minutes but pondered over a lifetime.
Each page features a one sentence “Misery is…” statement accompanied by a beautiful illustration—simple, yet deep on so many levels. Despite being penned almost 50 years ago black misery has meaning and relevance today.
In the sample above, a child hears through the media that his neighborhood is a “slum&”. The neighborhood where he shoots hoops, and his sisters jump double-dutch is described as a slum — a slum, ghetto, or inner-city, but never described as a home. The accompanying photo poignantly expresses the hurt, humiliation, and confusion of the young boy. Given a lifetime of hearing these negative labels associated with not only his neighborhood, but his skin tone, his culture and history, we know this young man has a tough road ahead of him. We may be on that road ourselves.
Hughes’ misery captions reminds us that we share something that is unique to African Americans. As an African-American you may not relate to everyone of Hughes’ captions but I guarantee, you’ll relate to at least a few.
AALBC.com has compilied a list of our own “Black Misery Is...” captions.