Filling In The Black: One Woman’s Journey of Re-education


Author:Joan Kantor

  • Publisher: Joan Kantor
  • Publication Date: August 21, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 47
  • ISBN-10: 97880578252803

Filling in The Black: One Woman’s Journey of Re-education by Joan Kantor is a collection of thought-provoking, oftentimes poignant poems that capture the painful experience of the color line and what it implies for humanity. Kantor's voice joins those of icons like Langston Hughes to denounce the inhumanity and the inequality of equal men, solidly opposing racism in all its forms. These outstanding, lyrical, and intelligently crafted poems brilliantly portray the empathic voice of a white woman who stands against racism. She doesn't hesitate to remind readers: ''I’m white. / Please don’t hold that against me. /I’m not trying to pretend to be black or brown.'' And in these lines, she explores what is most essential about life — humanity. The poet captures the grim experience of black people who still experience racism with forensic clarity. Below is one of the poems that expose a reality that is recurrent in contemporary America and many places across the globe:


 'The boy doesn’t even have a chance

to open his mouth

before the cop

yanks him by the arm

and shoves him

against the car


'where this kid

from the burbs


wonders why


'he hadn’t believed his parents

when they told him

he only seemed

to be living the dream.'

This poet who cries ''white tears for a black man / and those unjustly killed before him'' delivers a message of hope in her poetry, succinctly capturing unique experiences of racism while allowing the light of her humanity to shine through each line. This is a rich collection with poems that should open frank conversations on the difficult, yet timely subject of racism. Filling in The Black: One Woman’s Journey of Re-education is a delightful collection, but not the kind of poetry to be read on the surface. It is replete with symbolism. It is engaging, thoughtful, and filled with deep currents of the poet's humanity. In this collection, Kantor engages readers in dialogue with history, challenging them to shift perspective, and seeking the place where the shades of our skin disappear, revealing people who get hurt and who are capable of love. It is a collection of protest poetry that is as illuminating as it is timely. The strong and resonant themes, the lyrical character of the poems, and the author’s ability to evoke powerful imagery in the reader’s mind make this collection a must-read for poetry fans.

Reviewed By: David Reyes

Reviewed Date: September 27, 2022