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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

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7:00pm to 8:00pm
Wisconsin Book Festival Presents Emily Raboteau for Lessons In Survival

Wisconsin Book Festival Presents Emily Raboteau for Lessons In Survival

Meeting Rooms 301 and 302 Combined
Wednesday, May 8, 2024, 7:00pm to 8:00pm

In this scrupulous and searching examination of the intersections of social and environmental justice, Raboteau offers her perspective as a mother raising children in the midst of protracted crises and existential threats. In confronting a range of these threats—from the over-policing of Black bodies to the devastation of climate collapse this innovative and provocative book asks how we can cope with the myriad, multiplying dangers that constitute life in the 21st century. How can we protect our children as they begin to grasp the asymmetries of power that shape their worlds? How can we raise them to be good citizens of a country that too often endangers Black life? What does it mean to be deeply local and sensitively global? And the grand container for all these questions: what does it mean to occupy the morally impure position of ‘mother,’ principally responsible for bringing life into a fallen world?

In her quest for answers, Raboteau traces art, politics, history, and nature across her New York City home. Birds both in the air and painted on buildings spark conversations about the interconnectedness of environmental issues; a pond serves as refuge to wildlife but also threatens to flood her home when it swells; the eroding beaches of the Rockaways call to mind an hourglass, reminding her that we are running out of time to prevent the worst climate catastrophes. She seeks ways for her children to safely play in city parks while avoiding pollution, pandemics, and the police. She ventures abroad to learn from indigenous peoples and discovers the most intimate meanings of resilience in her own family and community. She bears witness to the inner life of Black motherhood and to the brutalities and possibilities of cities, while celebrating the beauty and fragility of nature. Along every avenue of this nimble exploration, Raboteau floodlights the systems that perpetuate inequity, and finds alternatives toward a more sustainable future. In its sharp observations and its stories of protection and hope, Lessons for Survival blazes with insight.

In conversation with Erika Meitner. 

Meeting Rooms 301 and 302 Combined