“My house is sturdy, for the most part. I dream of more renovations, of making it better, stronger, safer, and more beautiful, for my children, for my team. But I can’t keep them safe. I can’t keep the outside world out. All of my efforts are violated by phones and screens and the truth of Black American life itself.” 

 

Writing in the New Yorker, 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow Emily Bernard shares her experience as a Black mother in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd while quarantining with her family during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I was glad to be able to keep my children safe from more demoralizing experiences at school. Still, memories crept in. It was as if, not having to deal with it in the day to day, my daughters were suddenly free to experience their wounds in a deep way for the first time,” writes Bernard. “Three years of being one of very few Black children in her classrooms had left Isabella feeling both hyper-visible and invisible, a jarring and alienating experience many Black people know well.” 

Bernard, professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and Julian Lindsay Green and Gold Professor of English at the University of Vermont, is the author of Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine, which won the Los Angeles Times–Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose. 

Read Bernard’s full New Yorker essay “The Purpose of a House.”