White Nights, Black Paradise

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9780692267134: White Nights, Black Paradise
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In 1978, Peoples Temple, a multiracial church once at the forefront of progressive San Francisco politics, self-destructed in a Guyana jungle settlement named after its leader, the Reverend Jim Jones. Fatally bonded by fear of racist annihilation, the community's greatest symbol of crisis was the White Night; a rehearsal of revolutionary mass suicide that eventually led to the deaths of over 900 church members of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. White Nights, Black Paradise focuses on three fictional black women characters who were part of the Peoples Temple movement but took radically different paths to Jonestown: Hy, a drifter and a spiritual seeker, her sister Taryn, an atheist with an inside line on the church s money trail and Ida Lassiter, an activist whose watchdog journalism exposes the rot of corruption, sexual abuse, racism and violence in the church, fueling its exodus to Guyana. White Nights, Black Paradise is a riveting story of complicity and resistance; loyalty and betrayal; black struggle and black sacrifice. It locates Peoples Temple and Jonestown in the shadow of the civil rights movement, Black Power, Second Wave feminism and the Great Migration. Recapturing black women's voices, White Nights, Black Paradise explores their elusive quest for social justice, home and utopia. In so doing, the novel provides a complex window onto the epic flameout of a movement that was not only an indictment of religious faith but of American democracy.

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About the Author:

Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars and Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels. She is a contributing editor for The Feminist Wire and was named 2013's Secular Woman of the Year .

Review:

"Sikivu Hutchinson's vision of Jonestown, of the real people who left behind despair for what they thought was belief and hope, is a valuable one - her take is the one America hasn't yet seen." --Susan Straight, author, Between Heaven and Here and Take One Candle, Light a Room

"Sikivu Hutchinson's beautifully written novel captures the complicated relationship between remembering the past and attempting to forget. Her work is hauntingly evocative." --Duchess Harris, Professor of American Studies, Macalester College, author Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton/Obama

"Sikivu Hutchinson's first novel, White Nights, Black Paradise, offers a new and refreshing look at Peoples Temple and Jonestown. Imagination and fact seamlessly blend together in this work of historical fiction. But what is most significant in this novel is its strong black voice and presence. Given the fact that Peoples Temple black membership approximated 90% in California, and that two-thirds of those who died in Jonestown were African American, White Nights, Black Paradise makes a welcome contribution by telling a story rarely heard, written from the perspective of a black feminist scholar." --Rebecca Moore, Jonestown Institute Review, editor, Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America

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