Tasha Keeble’s memoir, Call Me Freedom, A Black American Woman Breaks from Empire, tracks parallel journeys: one explores the narrator’s life and family relationships, and the second gauges and evaluates her interior life relative to the outside world (i.e., Empire) to free herself from a stultifying duty handed her as a middle-class Black woman-to piously attend to everyone’s needs before her own.
The triggering event-learning of her father’s death months later from her ultra-religious aunt, who rejects the narrator’s claim to her father-is a stab wound requiring the narrator fourteen years’ distance to confront. Keeble’s epistle to the deceased father she barely knew takes the reader on her voyage towards “true emancipation.”
Cycling through time and record, the narrator does not blink-vulnerably linking her life to myths that sustain the status quo and perpetuate Black disinheritance.
The narrator invites the reader to excavate ground and history from the noise of Oakland’s Fruitvale District to the complicated 1980s neighborhood surrounding Spelman College. Vectoring from the family homestead in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Keeble venerates ancestors, including her two brothers lost violently within the last quarter century.
In Call Me Freedom Keeble discovers hard truths, sheds useless beliefs, and claims her right to what she and her ancestors earned as members of “an ordered state.”