What We're Reading Now: Nonfiction

We found today's prose read, Onnesha Roychoudhuri's The Marginalized Majority, at a reading at one of the bookstores we mentioned in our post on indie booksellers. Roychoudhuri's book is a collection of essays about driving positive change in the world through changing the narrative, reclaiming and telling our own stories.

The book's thesis is simple: we aren't as polarized, in America, as some would say we are, or as it can appear at a rally for a demagogue. Roychoudhuri offers hope and direction—in many ways, these are precisely the reasons this reader picked up her book. I knew I had to when Roychoudhuri read aloud a sentence that absolutely summed up how I've felt in the last weeks and months: "Many of us are experiencing a shift in our perception of time because of the intensity and trauma of a leadership that shocks us daily—a single day can feel like a week, a week can feel like a month." 

Me too! my internal monologue screamed, I know exactly how that feels. Every day in this era can feel like an onslaught of news about injustices in need of being righted but, when we need real change to be made, how can we see a way out of the place we're in? This is where The Marginalized Majority comes in. In writing a book on a different narrative, on in fact changing the stories we tell ourselves about the present, and telling a narrative that reflects the truly diverse citizenry, and increasingly-progressive values of the country, Roychoudhuri says she wrote the book she needed to read. It's a hopeful book, one that is certainly helping to energize this reader.

Roychoudhuri writes,

"We're lacking an instructive narrative that reflects the reality we're in: The majority of Americans voted for a Democrat. For at least the past fifteen years, Americans have continued to express increasingly liberal values and beliefs....What if, instead of viewing this as a country divided, we view it as a country in a political moment when we do not have the leadership the majority of us want and deserve? The narrative chasm is of a different sort—not between Americans themselves, but between Americans and the political leadership that no longer represents them."

While society still privileges white Americans, and "particularly straight, white, cisgender men", only 31% of Americans today are white men, some fraction of whom are also marginalized queer and transgender men. The American majority, the marginalized majority for which Roychoudhuri titled her book, is a diverse group of people with intersectional marginalized identities—women, members of the LGBTQIA community, POC—a multiracial, multi-religious coalition. When we recognize this, we're better able to see how it's possible to affect positive change as we, the marginalized majority, work toward positive goals.

In Roychoudhuri's words, "Now is the time for us to set the terms of the conversation, to push back with the reality we insist on."