Feb 25·edited Feb 25

I wanted to know more of Brittany’s backstory in the beginning.

Her as the de facto leader made perfect sense to me in the “Black women will save us” way. She seemed ambitious and driven and self-confident … all traits that fit that trope. And at the beginning, I liked her acerbic ways and cute matching tracksuits. I thought something in her backstory led to her prepping.

Then you realize, oh she’s on some other stuff.

Her rules are selective, she follows her own sense of morality, she doesn’t examine her privilege and she’s full of fear.

Now, I want to know how she got to this point, but I’m also just happy to see a Black woman be loud and wrong.

And in charge.

Something about that felt good. It’s a freedom that you usually only see in white men, and it was nice to see it flipped.

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I can't say I am much of a prepper BUT I do love survival kits and first aid kits. Just in case. I have... like four or five stashed around the house. Earthquakes, I tell myself. We would be okay for a couple weeks. I also have portable chargers and something we can use to keep our electronics and such powered for a while, should something terrible happen. What strikes me about prepping, though, particularly in the extremes, is how wasteful it can be. Most items in a prep kit have an expiration date. And even if you stretch that by a year or two, eventually, it goes bad. So what? You throw it all away and buy a new set of goods, just in case? I try to be modestly prepared even if I never need it. I sure hope I never need it. But I won't be building a bunker anytime soon.

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My family was really invested in the Y2K debacle when it happened back in the late 90s. They bought a chemical toilet, loaded up the basement with all these canned goods, and even convinced a relative to get them a (badly hidden) gun. We were a group of Black women living in an inner city neighborhood slowly characterized by White flight and eventual neglect as more Black families came to live there. At the time, we wanted to make sure we could survive whatever happened after 1/1/2000 appeared on the calendar. Once nothing happened, things stood down somewhat. The reaction to Covid was similar, except the preparation shifted from chemical toilets to tracking down disinfectants, gloves, and masks. My aunt somehow came up with a strange (and embarrassing) reliance on the black gas station plastic bags as her decontamination resource. Entering her car was an exercise in someone doing her best to recreate chemists needing to decontaminate after chemical exposure.

I don’t think there’s anything *wrong* with prepping, per se, but when you begin prepping like Brittany and company, or like some of the right wingers, it’s less about surviving something and more about finding ways to assert control over a situation you may not have any control over. The focus shifts from ensuring there’s enough to be able to continue to ensuring that no matter what, no one is going to get the best of you. And the situations aren’t ever broader than what the person fears as the worst outcome--not all the other potential things that could go wrong. That’s why the twist of the book was so amazing--this one household issue turned everything on its head, not Race War 2020s or a nuclear strike. And they reacted as if they were under siege as the world continued all around them, puttering along just fine.

Brittany being the leader made sense to me, given the way her family was described and how rigid they were. It’s like she wanted to replicate that dynamic without having blood ties enter the equation. I found her character fascinating and confusing all at once. She hoarded all those guns just to let James sell them whenever and wherever, convinced she’d always have enough. She seemed like she was trying to arm the whole of Black Brooklyn. I think she kept the men around because they listened to her as an authority figure and she recognized that despite her ascetic militaristic lifestyle, she would eventually have... “needs.” LOL. I liked learning that Nia was in fact her therapist and I am sure that is why Nia immediately told Aretha to GTFO after visiting that house. That rabbit hole was deep.

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Feb 28·edited Feb 28

I also wanted to know more about Brittany's backstory and her family. In some way, I pictured her as a foil to Nia, both came from wealth, but Cauley emphasized how Nia's was so loving and overinvolved.

I was always put off by preppers (I grew up in Oregon) and in 2020 I learned that prepping is pretty futile when I had to leave my home twice (due to COVID and wildfires). A "go bag" definitely makes sense to have on hand, but building a bunker and stockpiling food and firearms...none of that matters if your home goes away.

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OK my comments are going to be a little off topic but I've been waiting to discuss something particular. I'm fascinated by Aretha's attraction to illegal guns. I live in Canada where we don't just have guns lying around and I was thinking of the times I've seen a gun: once up in the North when someone was hunting / defending territory against a bear that was getting too close and many many times on armed police but I remember being absolutely chilled by being in the presence of a real gun. So I just cannot get over Aretha's comfort in selling illegal guns to people?? How did she make that shift??

OK about Brittany, her character has been developed to hint at family attachment issues which is why she is so defensive and her prepping seems to be a response to that. Somewhat related, Aretha has this spectre of the deer antlers that killed her parents that comes up periodically, and I wonder if her developing obsession with guns has something to do with that?

Personally I don't prep beyond food and water but I pay attention to incoming threats such as extreme weather or political news etc and make sure to get in touch with my community in whatever way feels appropriate so that we can respond if needed. And I keep my first aid up to date!

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I thought the prepping in this book was so interesting--especially in the way that it basically involved trapping yourself in the world you created in order to survive. When I was thinking about prepping from my own experience, I realized that the way I "prep" is to make sure I am never in a situation where I cannot easily leave. I live with very few positions, it would always be easy(ish) for me to pack up and move, etc.--which I think is why the idea of going into a hole in the ground in the backyard feels so counterintuitive to what would feel like survival to me. It's always interesting to see what the mechanisms of creating experiential safety are for different people, and how that varies from person to person so much. It just makes me think a lot about how we don't actually respond to threats, we respond to our perception of threats . . .

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Reading this book while watching The Last of Us was unexpected pleasant timing especially with ep3.

There are characteristics that I do admire about a survivalist path - as a woman especially I’ve always taken an interest in wanting to pursue martial arts or self-defense; I like the spirit of self-reliance as there is this message like I’ve got my shit together; and wow Brittany built a whole bunker by herself?!? Similar to what Gabby said above, it was great to see that a black woman was in charge.

I just cannot get down with all the time spent on building bunkers, stock piling, gun collecting, and taking the watch. I also cannot for the life of me ever see a reality of being dependent on Life Preservers - NO thank you.

I’m not sure what my prep level is or should be but I definitely want to get a termite sanity check...

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I'm a little late to this, but it's interesting to see other people's perspectives on prepping. I've made some changes in how I prepare, but it's limited to having enough food, etc to isolate for a couple weeks. I don't expect to be able to survive any sort of apocalypse (or want to, really), but there are probably some other tasks I should take on that are mentioned here. Go bags, yes; guns, no.

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I was traveling out of the country the greater part of February so I couldn't get into this book yet but based on the comments and the questions from Roxane, I'll be reading it for sure. The premise is intriguing. Black preppers? Mm-huh!!

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I need to watch this show to know what we’re discussing here, but I’ve always almost had a negative opinion on preppers. I feel like being prepared is a good thing but becoming almost prepper style prepared is a little too much. I really disliked the people who were hoarding during the beginning of covid. It was kind of selfish and it screwed up the flow of getting enough stuff on shelves for everyone. I know it was a time no one knew what was truly happening, but.

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