Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#BookReview: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO FANNIE DAVIS:My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers by Bridgett M. Davis

Synopsis: Offering a daughter's perspective on her larger-than-life mother, Bridgett Davis traces her family's story as part of the Great Migration, showing how her mother and father arrived in Detroit from Tennessee carrying with them not just their own hopes but also those of their families. A child gifted with extraordinary powers of perception and understanding, Davis breaks the code of secrecy around her mother's business and in so doing reveals both her mothers' extraordinary sacrifices as well as her seemingly endless generosity. We come to understand just how keenly Fannie Davis believed in the power of money, and family, to make the world right.

Review: Black mothers are amazing. Don't hit me with "all mothers are amazing" because while they might be good, black mothers are amazing because they're tasked with preparing black children to face a life that won't always be kind to them and won't think they're amazing. Fannie Davis created a blueprint for life that showed her kids, the author in particular, that they were special, there was nothing they couldn't do and no one could place limitations on them.

I grew up with a granny who loved playing the lottery. I have vivid memories of going to the neighborhood liquor store (because no one batted an eye in the 80s when kids bought lottery tickets and cigarettes) to play her numbers, straight and boxed. And though she never told me, I suspect that my granny, a Tennessee transplant living in East St. Louis, IL, played the numbers long before the lottery became an official entity. So I understood how important the numbers were to the black community - a chance to pay a little for a potentially big payout, a little hope for a few dollars, and the excitement when your number hit.

I was immediately drawn into Fannie Davis's story, learning the flip side of how the numbers worked and the ability to turn that knowledge and ingenuity into a life long enterprise that afforded her and her family nice houses in good neighborhoods, education at private college, luxury vacations, and the ability to walk away from a marriage that was no longer working for her, because she could afford to do so. I love the example she set for her children, her daughters especially. I'm so glad Bridgett M. Davis shared the story of her family and her mother with us and I think you will be too.

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