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Paperback Living to Tell About It: Young Black Men in America Speak Book

ISBN: 0385473141

ISBN13: 9780385473149

Living to Tell About It: Young Black Men in America Speak

The statistics about young black men are familiar; homicide is their #1 killer, one fourth are in jail, on parole or probation, and theirs rates of unemployment, teen fatherhood, educational drop-out-and death-exceed those of any other demographic group. Moreover, in the public mind, even those who don't bear out the grim statistics have come to embody society's worst pathologies. When given the opportunity to speak for themselves, they report feeling...


Format: Paperback

Condition: New

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For all those who deny that racism is still a problem...

First and foremost, I recommend this book to all white people in America who don't "get" racism- which would be all of us. While it's far too easy for well-meaning Americans to take for granted the privilege of being born into the dominant race, it's very difficult to see the challenges that others, particularly blacks, face due to systemic factors built over centuries of racism. This book illuminates these challenges, not in vague and general terms that would trigger knee-jerk defensiveness in us, but via a series of short profiles about struggling blacks throughout the nation. Much like Studs Terkel, Dawsey captures the dialect and raw sentiment of his many subjects, and in large part reserves judgment and leaves the reader to draw conclusions. Each chapter covers a distinct topic- the role of mothers, the role of fathers, sexism, violence, etc. and begins with a short autobiographical passage defining his own experience. Dawsey doesn't boast at all about how he not only outlived most of his friends but developed himself into a highly articulate and sensitive writer on one of the touchiest and divisive subjects of all. But, it's hard not to notice. For all those who deny that racism is real... the genius of Dawsey's work is that he doesn't so much tell you that racism is real but rather shows you what he's seen- and leaves it up to you to decide. To be sure, he does introduce some heavy-handed and likely controversial sentiments- citing the church's manipulation of blacks through faith, blacks' role as sacrificial pawns in the drug industry which is ultimately run by whites, "white-run parasite industries that thrive off the misdirection of the ghetto", an explanation of blacks' tendency to physically punish children as part of "a tradition that has roots in our peoples' history as white folks' chattel... to teach them the common sense and safety of subservience in an era wherein brashness in Black kids often raised a murderous ire in slaveholders and overseers." While these views are probably not palatable to many skeptical readers, the book as a whole is very palatable due to the author's own disarming honesty and self-awareness. Not only does he come clean about his days as a teenage stickup man (a product of his own "petty greed, a desire to earn props, boredom, mischief"), but he also labels himself as a sexist ("I feel a special need to address the issue of sexism as directly as I can, given my limitations as a beneficiary of the oppression of women.") before describing how he's worked to overcome it. So if Dawsey can acknowledge that sexism is real, who are we (whites) to deny that racism is real?
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