Sacred Cows And Other Edibles

Nikki Giovanni's collection of essays. I hate to be rude but swalpa editing, swalpa tightening would have made it a far better book. I like rambling personal essays but sometimes she just rambles clean off the page into an alternate dimension.

Giovanni is funny in the way that some women have about them. I am sure you have met them. They have sweet, innocuous, homely faces and can rarely be heard as they whisper rude things. Mothers usually like them. But while your mother is in the kitchen getting the sweet girl a second helping of whateveritis the sweet girl is blandly telling you that she has decided that boys are just not working out and she wants to adopt a baby with her girlfriend from Sierra Leone. Girlfriend! Girlfriend! While you are spluttering your mother has returned and the sweet girl joins her in making cracks about you. The sweet girl leaves after tea and you are still digesting the fact that you were talking revolution or even satirising the post-revolution when the sweet girl is out there with a burning torch.

So the book...if you ignore your inner editor and look out for the great nuggets from the 60s and her witty asides on being an activist and being a writer, the book is great fun. Here is Nikki on the marches and sit-ins of her day.

" I shall always remember the joy on my grandmother's face when she came back from the mass meeting to tell me I could march and how proud she was. She and Grandpapa caught a cab to come see me. I actually figured I was on my way to meet my maker, but one must have a sense of social responsibility. When I enrolled in Fisk University the following fall one of the things I most looked forward to was sitting in. There was a sort of style ti it. Assuming you weren't actually molested, it was cool. You sat on the stool and watched the white people panic. Dick Gregory has the best story. When he stopped at a diner the waitress said, "We don't serve niggers," to which Gregory replied, "I don't eat them." You always hoped someone would say something to you to let you be cool. Mostly you were scared. I was home alone the Sunday the little girls were bombed in Birmingham....Nina Simone said it best: " Mississippi Goddamn!"


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