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PublisherWest End Press
Release date 01.01.1990
File size5 Mb
eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
Book rating5 (1 votes)
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Book overview

After reading Randall's book about her life in Cuba, [To Change the World], I made a trip to the university library and came home with more of her books.This short book focuses mainly on her fight with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services to regain her American citizenship.Randall was born in New York, moving to New Mexico as a child.While spending a couple of years in Mexico and needing to work, she became a Mexican citizen in order to work and support her children there.When the Mexican government took away her passport, she was forced underground in order to get out of Mexico, and moved to Cuba.She then moved to Nicaragua for awhile before deciding to return to the U.S.Her parents were aging and her children were grown and living their own lives and she desperately missed her own culture.After years of studying and writing about revolutionary thinking and women revolutionaries, visiting many countries for her research, she was exhausted.

When she married a U.S. citizen and decided to stay, she applied for permanent resident status.This was denied and she was eventually officially deported due to her earlier writing and teaching that was interpreted as being anti-American and pro-Communist.She remained in the U.S. while several appeals were made.This book is basically the story of these legal battles and the national support Randall gained during this time.Are U.S. citizens allowed to express beliefs that oppose the American government?Randall ultimately wins because a judge rules that she had given up her U.S. citizenship under financial duress and thus never actually lost it.However, the case did result in some changes in immigration law about dissent in the U.S.

This is a very short book and I found the First Amendment legal battles fascinating, especially as seen through Randall's eyes after her experiences with repression and censorship in other countries.I believe I understand free speech rights much better due to this book.

Several of Randall's poems are included in this small volume and I found them very evocative and impacting.This was the opposite experience I had when I first read one of her volumes of poetry and didn't know what she was talking about.It was a lesson to me of reading poetry andother literature in context with some background knowledge.In her book I read earlier [To Change the World], Randall writes extensively about the importance specifically of poetry but also of art and other cultural factors, in evoking and sustaining the emotions supporting beliefs that keep people motivated over the long term in making and sustaining societal change.This became clear with my reading of her poetry in this volume. 

My favorite poem in this volume is entitled "I didn't mean it personally".Here is one verse as Randall is being reprimanded for taking things so personally:

Might you be talking about the personal monogram,
careful initials machine-stitched just for you
on the home-ec hankie, the polo shirt, or satin travel case
in which you can go anywhere
with that very personal diamond?
Can you guess where the stone
cut from South African rock
by South African shoulders, South African lungs,
stopped being hometown earth, became
your personal status symbol, beneath that monogram
or on your personal wrist?
I know.
You didn't mean it personally.

Recommended for anyone interested in Randall or free speech issues.I also very much enjoyed the poetry.
Five stars

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