EDUCATION

Holy American Burnout!: Essays

Split/Lip Pr Dec. 2023. 174p. ISBN 9781952897337. pap. $16. ED
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Middle-school teacher Enfield’s debut book is the Black analogue to Tracy Kidder’s 1989 Among Schoolchildren, only here the school is in Texas and the students are Brown, Black and Muslim. Enfield’s essays—some previously published—are like his students: at times scatological, at other times erudite and reflective. He deftly demonstrates his pedagogy, informed by both rap and classical literature. The writing is deft and nimble. For example, his line, “I could feel the week in my muscles,” is a clever use of homonyms and like an inside joke intended for astute readers’ delight. In the midst of a spectacular car crash, his thoughts do not encompass a life cut short but rather Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins making a spectacular one-armed catch, “like Adam reaching for God.” Though an avowed lover of humanity, Enfield concludes that burnout is the psychic weight of institutional racism upon Black bodies, contributing to a soul-crushing powerlessness, with no safety for Black Americans.
VERDICT An important and compelling voice. Readers will appreciate this distinctive take on burnout.
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