A move at age ten from a Detroit suburb to Chattanooga in 1984 thrusts Anjali Enjeti into what feels like a new world replete with Confederate flags, Bible verses, and whiteness. It is here that she learns how to get her bearings as a mixed-race brown girl in the Deep South and begins to understand how identity can inspire, inform, and shape a commitment to activism. Her own evolution is a bumpy one, and along the way Enjeti, racially targeted as a child, must wrestle with her own complicity in white supremacy and bigotry as an adult.
The twenty essays of her debut collection, Southbound, tackle white feminism at a national feminist organization, the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the South, voter suppression, gun violence and the gun sense movement, the whitewashing of southern literature, the 1982 racialized killing of Vincent Chin, social media’s role in political accountability, evangelical Christianity’s marriage to extremism, and the rise of nationalism worldwide.
In our current era of great political strife, this timely collection by Enjeti, a journalist and organizer, paves the way for a path forward, one where identity drives coalition-building and social change.
A spirited, well-turned collection, suffused with cleansing anger and hunger for change.
Anjali Enjeti’s Southbound
is the conversation you’ve been meaning to have with a friend about changing the world for the better. Informed, thoughtful, and compassionate, Southbound
is required reading for these times.
—Jessica Handler, author of The Magnetic Girl
is a testament to Anjali Enjeti's fierce eye and knack for landing uneasy truths.
—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk
is a potent tonic for our times—ambitious in its scope and refreshing in its candor. These are fiercely intelligent essays that examine the complexities of how power works on, through, and maybe even for us. Recommended reading for anyone interested in doing the same.
—Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Reckonings
I have long been a fan of journalist and activist Anjali Enjeti's work, and I am delighted that her essay collection Southbound
delivers on her most admirable legacy. Enjeti does not shy away from investigating her own, her community's, this country's, and in fact the world's casual acceptance of racism and xenophobia in all its many insidious forms. Plus, as a southerner and South Asian woman, Enjeti looks at anti-Blackness from several lenses and offers a model for not just how to acknowledge one's own complicity in the endless atrocities of racism but also how to act and go beyond just the plush label of ally. This book had me in tears many times but the gift of its deep intelligence and candor, the pain and the passion in these pages, gave me a lot of hope for all of us in a pretty hopeless time. This is a book I hope every American reads.
—Porochista Khakpour, author of Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity
In 20 essays that combine the literary tools of memoir, reportage, poetry, and non-linear storytelling, the author works to reclaim her identity on her own terms.
—Chris Moody, Chapter 16
is as much a gripping exploration of the author’s life and journey to better understand her identity as a masterfully researched collection of marginalized stories, history, data, art and literature.
—Frances Donington-Ayad, Hippocampus Magazine
A clarion call for all of us to question the harmful effects of white feminism, on the whitewashing of Southern literature as well as the micro-aggressive or even blatant racism of this country.
—Madhushree Ghosh, Los Angeles Review of Books
is an inspiring book in myriad ways. Published by the University of Georgia Press, it is representative of how publishing is shifting as independent Southern presses seek out books by more diverse authors. It joins other books . . . that challenge the common white narratives that come out of the South, valuing the perspective of non-white voices and their experiences.
—Dr. Liesel Hamilton, Southeast Review
Enjeti writes with lyricism and grace, giving us accessible, informative, empowering, and quick-to-read pieces in which she models antiracism and critical thought. She is an ally for budding activists, inviting us to develop and grow in our individual and shared identities in all their intersections, reconcile our heritage and history, raise one another up, amplify people who have been silenced, and work as agents of change.
—Liz Grauel, Resources for Gender and Women’s Studies