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Many black men?from Bill Cosby to Michael Eric Dyson?have spoken out about African American society. But where are the voices of the women, especially the young, funny, witty, sarcastic ones?
Meet Jam Donaldson, a provocateur of the most entertaining kind. Funny, sad, angry, and refreshingly honest, Conversate Is Not a Word offers food for thought, encouraging people to improve their lives as well as the culture ...
Many black men—from Bill Cosby to Michael Eric Dyson—have spoken out about African American society. But where are the voices of the women, especially the young, funny, witty, sarcastic ones?
Meet Jam Donaldson, a provocateur of the most entertaining kind. Funny, sad, angry, and refreshingly honest, Conversate Is Not a Word offers food for thought, encouraging people to improve their lives as well as the culture overall. Weaving her own warring viewpoints into the discussion, Donaldson provides not only comic relief but a window into the complex, contradictory perspectives existing within every member of the black community.
Introduction I'm No Revolutionary - Ha-ha Damn 1
1 Duality: The War Within 13
2 C Is for Crap: Standards, Schmandards 29
3 They Don't Know Any Better? 47
4 Call the Mayor, Then Pick Up the Trash Yourself: Trash as Caste? 67
5 If You're Gonna Hang on the Corner All Day, Take a Book (Mitigate Your Damages) 79
6 It Takes a Village, My Ass 93
7 "Ghetto Fabulous" Is an Oxymoron 113
8 Growing Pains: Where Are the Leaders? 131
9 The Talented Tenth Has Let Us Down 151
10 Doing the Best I Can with What I Got 165
Posted July 5, 2011
Posted February 27, 2010
If you love black people but lament the current state of their lives, if you are interested in black political thought but can do without the ideology, banality, and celebrity status of many authors, and if you want to hear the straight truth from both sides of the so-called intra-racial divide, then Jam Donaldson is the scribe of the times.
This is by no means a text written by academics for academics. Based on Donaldson's eponymous blog and her website, Hot Ghetto Mess, "Conversate..." is written for the guy or girl wearing Akademiks, their parents, teachers, clergy...this is written not for as an intellectual exercise but rather in the guise of a down home talking-to with the future of black America's children in mind.
As such, what it lacks in scholarly research is more than made up for in its accesibility and frankness. It's positioned closer to the man-on-the-street viewpoint than any similar book today, and yet pays tribute to the observations of DuBois, Washington, Ellison and (Ida B.) Wells-Barnett. This is clearly the greatest strength of the book. If nothing else, a reader not acquainted with these writers, DuBois especially, will gain a primer on the "double-conscioussness" every black person struggles with as he or she makes his way in America. There's the acknowledgement of the nation's historic and unpaid responsibility to black America (represented by "Jam the Negro") and the subsequent obligations as fully vested citizens that many African Americans are neglecting (represented by "Jam the American"). While pointing out the merits of each side, Donaldson nonetheless shows the reader that the majority of African Americans are squarely in the middle, but not monolithic. Thus, regardless of political party or ideology, regardless of socioeconomic status, the interests and concerns of the black community are one in the same.
"Conversate..." is a sucessful marriage of keeping it real and keeping it RIGHT. And yet like all weddings, it is beautiful but not perfect. One glaring flaw, if you are already knowledgeable with Donaldson, is the lack of original content. Much, maybe half, of the book derives squarely from her "Conversate" blog. Perhaps a forgiveable sin from a first-time author, but I know of few people who'd want to plunk down 14 bucks on something they've already read or otherwise can get for free online. A minor quibble, perhaps, but to me it's an important one. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future volume.
In my opinion, this is as necessary a book in our collection. It should be required reading in our communities. It is a bravely written book aimed squarely at equally brave people to stand up to the external forces that seem to tear our neighborhoods apart. The underlying message is that we've made it this far only because we had to do it ourselves, and today is no different. The cavalry isn't coming, folks. And we shouldn't want them to.
Spend the money. Buy the book. Share it with the people you love.
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Posted August 12, 2013
Posted April 20, 2012