Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Name Is Not "Those People"

As you know I love the way the Internet enables our lives to intersect and interconnect in so many unexpected ways. Last Monday I wrote about a young man from Duluth who ten years ago became one of the characters in a downtown Duluth memorial aimed at keeping us from forgetting the terribleness of hate. De'Lon Grant posed as Isaac McGhie, one of three blacks lynched here in 1920 Duluth.

This morning on Twitter I was contacted by a woman whose son went to school with Grant and called him "an amazing young man." Her profile reads, "I am a Grandma, Edu-Performace Artist, Author, Singer, Poet, Public Speaker, Humorist, and Story Teller. My talents are used to end homelessness and poverty."

A few exchanges later and it became apparent Julia Dinsmore is an amazing woman in her own right. Her first book, My Name Is Child of God...Not "Those People": A First Person Look at Poverty has received five star reviews at from all who have read it. You don't have to dig very deep to recognize that Dinsmore is fighting the good fight.

This personal and provocative look at poverty in America is shaped around the author's own engaging stories, song lyrics, and poems, including the well-known Call Me Child of God ... Not Those People. The story of her growing up in a large Irish Catholic working-class family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, draws together the experiences of living in poverty, the role of the church and music in her life, and the many remarkable people who populated her life and the lives of her family.

The author describes economic hardship and social challenges as being as "regular as the turning seasons in my coming up years," and refers to her life in poverty as the "soil of my art." Through her stories and reflections, Julia Dinsmore puts a face on poverty and challenges readers to answer God's call to respond to poverty and its effects.

In reading the reviews, I get the impression that what impresses readers is her honesty. As one reviewer aptly puts it...

In her ground breaking first book, Julia holds nothing back. She tells her story about living a life time challenged by poverty. Poverty gets defeminized, gets politically corrected and becomes a multicultural and universal story and phenomena through humor, social commentary and poetry. Julia, as social prophet, unravels a tongue that's sharp, accurate and liberating.

Danny Glover narrated one of her poems as part of a project she is involved with called Building Changes, End Homelessness Together. Their aim is to be a catalyst for ending homelessness forever. While the media keeps jawboning about the economic turnaround we're experiencing, unemployment continues at an untenable rate.

Recommended: Take a couple minutes to hear Glover's performance of Dinsmore's poem.

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