Caribbean Life, April 14-20, 2022
Based on a real-life court case, this book tells the tale slowly
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Some things, well, you just
make them your own.
You know it happens when you
just can’t let something go. You
turn it over in your mind six ways
daily, and talk about it until everybody
around you’s sick of hearing
about it. Pretty soon, it’s your
problem to have but be careful: as
in the new novel, “Take My Hand”
by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, these
kinds of things change lives.
If you’d have asked her, Civil
Townsend couldn’t exactly tell you
why she was on a road trip, alone,
heading from Memphis to Birmingham.
Maybe it was because
she’d heard that India was sick
with cancer. Maybe it was guilt.
She wondered if India would
even remember her. It had been
more than forty years since Civil
last saw her. India was a girl
In a way, so was Civil.
That was 1973, a year of women’s
rights and political upheaval,
and she was fresh out of school, a
new nurse at her first job at a family
planning clinic in Birmingham.
The clinic was funded by the government
and most of its clientele
were poor, a fact that was hard:
Civil had grown up with privileges
that few Black Alabamans
enjoyed, and she’d been made to
fear the people who looked like
her, but were not like her at all.
Wasn’t it ironic, then, that the
first folder she received on her
first day at work was for Erica and
India Williams, two girls who were
living in squalor, filthy, and illiterate?
Wasn’t it ironic that Civil was
told to give those little girls birth
control shots that could make
them sick when she, herself, was
carrying a birth-related secret?
Reluctance to do her job led to
rebellion, which led her to try to
make a difference in the lives of
the girls, their father, and their
grandmother. Civil stepped in and
got them new housing, new clothing,
and new lives. But she didn’t
help in the end, she made things
Would her own daughter would
Based loosely on a real-life, historic
case, “Take My Hand” seems
poised for an outrage that only
barely arrives, perhaps because
the reason for the railing is overshadowed
by the main character,
fussing at herself and her own
decisions. In the beginning, in
fact, author Dolen Perkins-Valdez
doesn’t make her Civil very likable;
even Civil admits that she’s
“uppity” and that never really
As for the plot, well, it’s slow
– except when it’s not, and then
‘Take My Hand’ author, Dolen
Perkins-Valdez. Norman E. Jones
reading it feels like skimming it,
as though you only caught the
highlights of it all. This unevenness
can sometimes be hard to
get through, but you must: that’s
where the good of this novel lies.
Which is part of the answer to
the question: Should you read this
Yes, maybe, if you’re unfamiliar
with Relf v. Weinberger, since this
tale may act as a gentler, softer
way to learn about it. Just beware
its bumps, try “Take My Hand,”
and make it your own.
“Take My Hand” by Dolen
Book cover of “Take My Hand” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.
Rasta singer very concerned about Ukraine war
By Nelson A. King
singer Scepta, a proud Pan-Africanist
and member of the Marcus
Negro Improvement Association
(UNIA), says he is “very, very concerned”
about the war and bloodshed
caused by Russia’s invasion
“When I scan the news and
look at what is taking place in
the world, war, rumors of war, it
makes me really, really sad,” he
told Caribbean Life.
Scepta has never been afraid
of expressing himself. In fact, he
has been a sharp shooter lyrically
all his life and is calling it the way
he sees it.
“I feel that the world leaders
are to be blamed,” he said. “They
are accountable for their actions
and must be held responsible for
what is happening.
“The needs of the people are
not being looked after,” he added.
“It is just war all around. And it is
just poor people who are feeling
the brunt of the suffering.
“You fight war and then you
have to rebuild,” Scepta continued.
“The money could be used
to deal with the suffering of poor
Scepta said he is also concerned
about what is happening
in his birth country Jamaica, as
“When I look at my own country
Jamaica right now, I see everything
is belly up,” he said. “The
traditions that we grew up on, we
have departed for that.”
The singer recently dropped
a new single that speaks to his
The new single “Nah Sell Out,”
which was recorded during the
global COVID lockdown, provides
food for thought for what he sees
going on in the world.
His record label, World Scann
Family engaged the services of
expert audio engineer Lamar
Reynolds, a platinum selling,
who mastered the song.
The single has an infectious
dancehall beat that compliments
the potent lyrics of the song.
Recorded on the “Personal
Gain Riddim,” “Nah Sell Out”
was released during Black History
month this year and is available
online at Itunes, Apple Music,
YouTube Music, Amazon Music
and can be streamed on Pandora
“I will not sell out my life
for fame, not even for personal
gains,” Scepta said.
Continued from Page 27
the Year, Best R&B Song and
Song of the Year making it
D’Mile’s historic second Song of
the Year win after winning last
year alongside H.E.R for “I Can’t
He dedicated his Song of the
Year Grammy win to his mother,
Yanick Étienne – a musical
legend in her own right, who
passed on Wednesday following
her battle with cancer.
The classically trained musician/
also took home GRAMMYS for his
contributions on Lucky Daye’s,
“A Seat at the Table”, which won
Progressive R&B Album, and for
his work on H.E.R’s “Fight For
You” from Judas and the Black
Messiah, which also earned him
an Oscar in 2021.
Rastafarian singer Scepta. Allyson