Been Coming through Some Hard Times: Race, History, and Memory in Western Kentucky

By Bala, Kawu | The Journal of Negro Education, Winter 2016 | Go to article overview

Been Coming through Some Hard Times: Race, History, and Memory in Western Kentucky


Bala, Kawu, The Journal of Negro Education


Been Coming Through Some Hard Times: Race, History, and Memory in Western Kentucky, by Jack Glazier. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2012, 265 pp. $48.00, hardcover.

Reviewed by Kawu Bala, Bauchi State Judiciary, Nigeria.

Race relations have been of interest to many immigrants who left their native lands in pursuit of opportunities; however, the coexistence of different groups from varied ethnicities is not an automatic sign of good will or fortune, even when a success story can cement brotherhood and love. Jack Glazier's Been Coming Through Some Hard Times is a unique story that will go to tell the "ensuing dilemmas of belongingness and alienation faced by the newcomers and especially their children" born in Russia and who would start a new life in America (p. xii). The book is an attempt to recollect some of the interesting aspects of Jack Glazier's life as it relates to his family's early interaction with other races, specifically, the African American family that played a decisive role in his formative years. Glazier reveals that he now "hopes to recover the value and significance of these events" (p. xii).

It will not be lost to readers even from the beginning to see that the core of the book exposes the dramatic contribution of Idella Bass, a lady of African descent in Hopkinsville, southern Kentucky, who joined the author's Russian-born parents as house-help to raise the children when Glazier's mother was working. Glazier was prompted due to his loss of certain memories to study the courage he had seen among Idella Bass's Black family as they lived together in racist America during the early twentieth century.

Most of Glazier's book discusses what he gathered from his study of racism in America, the bitter truth that even some researchers hide. So the book embodies a continued determination to comprehend race relations over the years in Hopkinsville and Christian County, Kentucky. Despite the much-often-talked about racism as a thing of the past it is still alive; for, it is the very factor that continues to define the interests and actions of some whether at an individual or group level. This book is true revelation of contemporary history and even then shows only minimal improvement in racial relations. The bitter fact is that we are not done with racism since in America it still revolves around the African American race because news media continue to reel out stories of racial tensions involving the mistreatment and/or killing of Trayvon Martin and other Blacks like him, who died in the hands of racist elements or overzealous security agents. The book explains that racism in American is the "most fraught issue" similarly to ethnicity, which is the most volatile in Africa and some parts of Asia, and brings about the wanton destruction of lives and properties.

A particular point in the author's analysis is that "race remains an abiding and divisive feature of the social, political, and economic landscape of Hopkinsville" (p. 3). The author laments that while slavery ended with the Civil War, "the supremacy of white people and the economic and political domination continued" (p. 5). This suggests that integration has failed to ensure or secure its goal; therefore providing for many "African-American disappointments" through the promises of a greater America. Why can't there be a purposeful change? It is not hard to understand when people live in segregated neighborhoods or environments and why they are negatively profiled just because of the color of their skin. If from the onset this interplay is squelched, the distorted history and individualism, which now affects interests and policy formulation would not exist. …

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