A Seat at The Table, The House on Mango Street, and our Collective Pride & Identity
written by ViV / Inspired by Kiara Garret
Music and literature are two forms of art that are universal. Music has the ability to move the culture forward through lyrics and melodies that vibrate through a collective consciousness. Books, even when translated across languages can instill the same tenet in people on two different sides of the Earth. For these reasons music and books share a home in a lot of our heads and hearts, but how often do they share the same room? I’m working my way through a reading list by Facebook user and cultured bookworm Kiara Garret that sits some of our time’s most culturally relevant albums side by side with their thematic literary counterparts.
: A Seat At The Table
One of 2016’s most culturally relevant albums came served on a highly reflective platter in the form of A Seat at the Table. Solange’s soulful work of art broke the mold on personal narratives and had a lot of us looking inward. A Seat at the Table is a lush, soft-spoken expose centered on personal identity, grief, healing and the cultural bonds that not only get us by but also propel us forward.
:The House On Mango Street
If you bumped A Seat at the Table in heavy rotation and felt stirred, The House on Mango Street will be a steady whisk. Sandra Cisneros’ 1984 coming of age novella is told through the perspective of a young Mexican girl named Esperanza. After moving every year when a new sibling is born, Esperanza’s family finally purchases their own home. The home is on Mango Street, a run down part of town where mostly people of color live. The house on Mango Street is also falling apart and tiny, leaving Esperanza’s family of six to share one bedroom. While they no longer have to pay rent and move from place to place, Esperanza is disappointed in the home and her neighborhood. Esperanza writes as a way to live beyond the small home and neighborhood. Vignettes about neighbors, her neighborhood, trauma and successes are brilliantly tied together to tell a story of longing for identity and belonging.
Identity and a desire for ownership of one’s space are both central themes in A Seat at the Table and The House on Mango Street. Through interludes, A Seat at the Table sheds light on how environment impacts us and influences how we choose to move through the world. Esperanza’s own circumstances and those of her neighbors help mold her own developing sense of identity and the choices she makes about her future. The almost understated yet, powerful tone of these two works also makes them highly complimentary. A Seat at the Table delivers soft, ethereal production rife with horns and breezy vocals from Solange while The House on Mango Street uses intentionally rudimentary language to successfully get Esperanza’s points across in a very light 110 pages. While standing beautifully on their own, these two works resonate extremely well together. Enjoy a mashup asap!
Listen To These Tracks While Reading: