Young, Restless, Gifted, and Black: Exploring the Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry
Janice Rhosalle Littlejohn interviews Imani Perry about her recent book, Looking for Lorraine, for the Los Angeles Review of Books:
JANICE RHOSHALLE LITTLEJOHN: In the book’s introduction, you wrote that Hansberry’s “is a story that remains in the gap,” and you go on to discuss the various people who are going into those gaps to reveal who she was and her impact on culture. What is it about this particular time that has prompted this kind of interest in Lorraine Hansberry, her story and what it means to us now?
IMANI PERRY: A piece of it is definitely the renewed interest in black women’s history, in particular, and attention to the submerged histories of black women. Combined with the fact that she’s this figure who sits at the crossroads of so much: she identifies as a lesbian, she’s a woman who comes of age in Chicago in the midst of this period of intense discrimination and upheaval and migration. There’s all of these forces that are part of her identity and her story that are in some ways very similar to the kinds of questions we’re talking about now, whether it’s about the inequality — just this morning on Twitter there was this robust conversation about violence and racial inequality and policing in Chicago, all of which were central to her life — or this kind public conversation about intersectionality, and for her she’s trying to figure out feminism and sexuality, race, class.