I first met Shannon Gibney this summer when I took my sibling to Shannon’s talk about representation in stories. Due to the other people present, it wasn’t quite what was expected, but Shannon was wonderful and we got copies of See No Color and A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, which I somehow hadn’t heard about. Dream Country was coming soon, so I kept my eyes on facebook, and when Shannon announced the launch at St. Kate’s, I made sure I was there.
There’s so much we don’t know, history that is erased or never even written down, truths that are hidden from us. Dream Country starts right here in the U.S. and takes us to Liberia, which I didn’t know a thing about before first meeting Shannon. Throughout history, I’ve heard references to talk about sending Black Americans “back to Africa,” but I had no idea someone actually did that. I especially had no idea that not only did some free Black people “return” to Africa, but that they set up a colony (with the help of white capitalists, of course) and proceeded to enact the situations they’d just escaped on the indigenous people living there.
Look, much of our history as a species is horrifying, and Gibney doesn’t sugar coat a thing. People are complicated and messy and the products of their environments, hopes, dreams, ambitions, and sometimes, greed. One thing I kept thinking as reading was: what has inter-generational trauma done to almost all of us?
In my mind, all evil springs from greed/capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. So where does that leave us now, generations and generations into this white man’s sickness that they spread across the globe? Rich people aren’t happy. White supremacists aren’t happy. The patriarchs aren’t happy. What the FUCK is the point of all this oppression and degradation when even the supposed “winners” are losers? Why are we so infatuated with hate and greed when it just consumes and ruins us?
Dream Country follows multiple point-of-view characters, and it is a serious page turner. I was so pleasantly surprised by the final chapter that I just couldn’t even. Bravo, seriously. The author’s note is beautiful.
We are all connected, and I felt my connection to these characters and their stories strongly. Representation matters, and there are so many people represented here who have been shoved aside for too long. Empathy also matters, and it’s past time that people started seeing the similarities in our struggles, in our stories. Superficially, my background couldn’t be more different, and yet, I can see my brother in Kollie and see myself in Angel (especially how my brother has seen me) and see so many people I know and love and how similar their struggles are to these.
This is the story of our human struggle. What do we value? At what cost? Instead of taking, what should we be giving and receiving? What is truly valuable?
Read Dream Country. See your story in it. And see the people around you differently.