24 March, 2009

Another Great Read

Listening to: Beth Hart, Lou Reed, Nina Simone
Fighting: a head cold
Missing: My roommates from Saturday night - "Lucy and Ethel"

Just finished another great book, courtesy of my professor:
The Lost Children of Wilder by Nina Bernstein (2001)

The book tracks the lawsuit brought by the NY Civil Liberties Union in 1972 against NYC and the religious organizations they were paying to serve orphans and foster children. Only problem was the predominantly Catholic and Jewish agencies were only really adequately serving white kids, mostly of their same denominations. The case started as a first amendment violation, but was really more about skin color and would drag into the nineties with questionable results. To read that nuns at one home would take children to the Museum of Natural History for a consult if they couldn't determine the "amount of Negro blood" gives you some idea. Shirley Wilder was the young woman who served as plaintiff. She'd suffered enough in the system by the time she turned 15 and gave birth to a son who also ended up lost in the system. The book tracks all three stories: those of the case, Shirley, and her son Lamont. It's a masterfully written book. Heartbreaking, maddening, and certain parts should move anyone to profound anger. I can't recommend it enough.


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