AUTHOR: Mychal Denzel Smith
PUBLISHER: Nation Books
PUBLISHED DATE: June 14, 2016
This book was fire.
I read this in one sitting and to say I merely enjoyed it is an understatement. It certainly reminded me of a millennial version of Ta-Nehisi Coates' award winning Between the World and Me. Smith's writing is sharp, intellectual, and urgent. Opening with the murder of Trayvon Martin, Smith set a somber and vital tone. He then talks about growing up in a middle class black family where respectability and expectation was a given. He goes on to examine how he rebelled, somewhat, in choosing heros who had cloaked themselves in black rage - Kanye West, Tupac, and Malcolm X, as opposed to Barack Obama who appeared to be too watered down. His parents sent him off to college hoping he would take his place as someone who would not be confined by race, and Smith's hopes were to equip himself with the knowledge and tools to spark a revolution. A professor at Hampton challenges his black male centered literary and misogyny laden hip hop idolization. This leads Smith to examine mysogyny within the black community, and the indicators within black popular culture that perpetuate this in black men.
Smith dissects pop culture, political, and familial references that informed his early education, and as the book progresses his gaze turns more inward, and in doing so more revelatory. Smith explores so many topics, and doesn't shy away from the vulnerability of shortcomings and hard to talk about subjects. This is truly a stunning debut. I look forward to what Smith will publish next.
Audience: Millennials and up - though I think a lot of teens would appreciate this book.
*I purchased the audiobook from Audible.
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