What does Texas-native Annie Clark, better known by her stage name St. Vincent, think about racism and race relations in Texas?
Clark spoke about her experiences growing up in Lake Highlands on KLRX's "Unbounded Book Club" program, aired on TuneIn. The program, which is promoted and funded by Lexus, asks artists to choose their favorite audiobooks and then participate in in-depth discussions about them.
Clark chose Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. The 2015 National Book Award winner is written as a letter to the author's teenage son about the feelings and realities of being black in the United States. It addresses the American history of violence against black people and the policing of them.
Clark references the James Baldwin text on which Between the World and Me is inspired, which says that racism is not a natural byproduct of people being different races; there is no such thing as race, we are all human beings and there are those who "believe themselves to be white." Race is a byproduct of racism, not the other way around.
On growing up in Dallas:
"In Dallas, it was very segregated," Clark says.
She moved to Dallas when she was seven and attended Northlake Elementary in Lake Highlands. She describes her parents as middle class, but notes that her neighborhood ranged from upper middle class to working class families.
"The year that I enrolled in second grade was the year the white homeowners had taken all of their precious children and put them in private school," she says.
The only other student whose parents were "white homeowners" was her friend Doug. Her other public school classmates were African American or recent immigrants to Texas.
Clark apologizes for using possibly antiquated language, but says her aunt is black and both her aunt and her mother encouraged the family to "acknowledge racism as it came up, and do whatever felt like the opposite."
Should you read the book?
Clark says yes, especially if you are a person who perceives yourself as white.
"The point of the book is one for someone who grew up believing that they are white is understanding the immense privilege that has afforded me and a glimpse of the trauma of what it is to be perceived black in America, a place that is institutionally racist," she says.
"Reading this book, it was a real empathy examination. Any instance where you can read something and it makes you feel more attune to what other people feel is a good thing."