People don’t just happen. We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The “I” it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, “I am no longer yours.”
In How We Fight for Our Lives, acclaimed poet Saeed Jones tells the story of growing up a black Texas boy and discovering his sexuality at an early age. From a young age, Jones would have to figure out his place in the world while navigating life as the son of a struggling single mother and a uncompromisingly religious grandmother.
Writing a memoir while you’re still in your thirties is a funny thing; you still have so much life ahead of you! But, Saeed’s story is one worth reading. Not only is it unrelentingly tragic at times, it’s both a hopeful as well as powerful look at an unflinching love that can exist between a mother and son. Saeed’s love for the woman who raised him is just as integral to the book as his sexual exploits and the violence that seemed to go hand-in-hand.
Make no mistake, this is not an easy read. He certainly doesn’t leave much to your imagination when it comes to the graphic, sometimes violent, sex scenes here. This is Saeed’s experience, warts and all. It is the raw and cutting story of Saeed’s life lived his way, without compromise. Within a brisk 192 pages, his prose and talent are on full display with several memorable passages that had me highlighting full paragraphs on my Kindle like a mad man.
For all that we hear about the need for equality and racial justice, there are always going to be those who oppose such cultural progression. How We Fight for Our Lives is a moving, fearless account of a life lived under pressure. If more people could take the time to read a story like Saeed’s rather than just sit quietly and judge the lives of others, maybe it could foster more empathy. Maybe. Who knows? Maybe it’s just wishful thinking.