Book Relflection: Cross-X

Category: , By Christian
The problem of racial and socioeconomic segregation in Kansas City is a difficult one to wrap one's mind around. Those not from this area have a hard time believing things are as bad as I make them out to be. Those from this area generally have the same reactions, because the "walls" we have built up in this metro area are so high and thick that those with relative power and wealth have effectively insulated themselves from coming in contact with people of color and low socio economic status. The entire situation is difficult and ugly and requires a long nuanced discussion.

Enter Cross-X. A few years back, Joe Miller took on the task of chronicling the season of the area's best high school debate squad. That squad just so happened to be Central High School, which is located two blocks from where I work in the heart of inner city Kansas City. It is 99% black. It is over 90% free lunch. Prior to high school, none of the kids had any debate experience. And yet, they had a habit of traveling to prestigious national tournaments and competing for hardware.

Cross-X is one of those books that tells two stories at once. There is the story of the team, but then there is also the story of the author. As a white man of relative wealth and privilege, it is fascinating to watch how Miller's experience with the team opens his eyes to what is going on in his community. Already a socially conscious individual, he delves deeper into systems of injustice as he stands beside the oppressed and begins to advocate on their behalf while living life with them.

If you live in the KC area, I will put you on notice. You have to read this book. If you don't, you are avoiding the harsh truth about what our community looks like. We are all culpable for the problems it faces, and we all bear responsibility in the renewal of our neglected and oppressed populations. I know those are strong words, but I feel that strongly about how well this book discusses race and power.

If you don't live in the KC area, I still strongly recommend the book. If nothing else, it's a very compelling story. But there is a lot more than that, as well.

Fair Dinkum

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