Healing From Empire | Sojourners

Healing From Empire

A review of ‘A Riff of Love: Notes on Community and Belonging,’ by Greg Jarrell.

BLACK AND BROWN folks have discussed at great length white supremacy and empire, but unless white folks have the conversation, those demons will never be fully cast out of our lives. White folks have become content with a lifestyle that hovers above black and brown folks and doesn’t dive into the white supremacy and empire that threatens them.

But Greg Jarrell, author of A Riff of Love: Notes on Community and Belonging and a self-described “white, middle-class, highly educated, straight man,” departs from this pattern. Jarrell plunges into the issues, examining the story of his family’s more-than-a-decade-long journey of building QC Family Tree, an antiracist spiritual community of people in solidarity with black folks experiencing gentrification and displacement in the Enderly Park neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C.

Jarrell, who plays saxophone, frames the book around the concept of riffs, which he describes as “a few notes ... the essence of the full melody, the foundation from which a whole work is constructed.” Some of the greatest jazz arrangements begin with a riff, born of careful attention to a melody and improvisation on a theme.

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