Don't Believe the Hype: Fighting Cultural Misinformation about African Americans

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Editorial Reviews

Bill Curtis

Go Ahead.Get Disturbed

—a Bill Curtis Book Review

As the 20th century comes to a jagged close, Farai Chideya explores American Caucasian behaviors and cultural practices against Blacks in her book, "Don't Believe The Hype-Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African-Americans." Most people will stick their head in the sand rather than discuss, much less confront, Caucasian American pathological (racist) cultural norms and practices that seem to, unwittingly, suffer Black self interest, self determination and full participation in US society.

Chideya handles a controversial subject matter, while reducing the information overload and the intimidation factor, so that readers can consider, if not digest, her debunking of media projected stereotypes and propaganda about Black people. If a computer is "user friendly", then Chideya's book is "reader friendly". Don't Believe The Hype-Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African-Americans is primed with useful statistics, making the book a must-have for anyone, Black or Caucasian, with an interest in justice and truth.

While many people are aware that media character assassinates people, Chideya gives example after example to shed light on three broad concepts: #1, the Big Lie; #2, the Truth; and #3, statistics and research supporting the truth and, consequently, exposing the Big Lie propagandized against Black self-determination, self-definition and life.

This is a serious book, one that reveals the insidiousness of Caucasian superiority complex syndrome. Blacks ought to read it to strengthen their truth; Caucasians need to read it to learn something about and gain freedom from the lies believed in. Caucasian superiority complex syndrome is a dangerous state of mind devolving into nazi-like behaviors that show up in media as police brutality, political and cultural nullification, and Black acquiescence and cooperation with their oppression.

Chideya's research shows that most Black folk are hard working, law abiding, non-drug using citizens. The media, however, propagandizes the exact opposite image in a myopic view making Blacks synonymous with crime, murder and mayhem, and sports. For those knowledgeable of nazi news media's myopic focus in Hitler's Germany, the methodology is strikingly similar.

This courageous, important book steps on toes. It educates people to consider, if not understand, that Caucasian American behavior against Blacks is a pathology, deeply conditioned in the mindset, and blind to itself. One could argue, as well, that Blacks have equal responsibility for the perpetuation of this madness, but that is a review for another book.

Chideya crushes comfort zones and brings to mind something Dr. Sonia Sanchez wrote about Toni Bambara in Warpland, a journal of Black Literature and Ideas. Dr. Sanchez said that Toni Bambara "asked the most important question we can ask ourselves. What are we pretending not to know today?" Chideya exposes some of it. Don't Believe The Hype-Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African-Americans is a confrontation with what it is we are all pretending not to know today. You better tell somebody. Bill Curtis recommended Must-Read-Reading: MRR****.

Bill Curtis' commentaries and reviews have been published in the Afro-American, The Baltimore Chronicle, The Baltimore Press, The Baltimore Times, The Baltimore Sun, Financial Independence Magazine, Every Wednesday, Blind Alleys, African-American News & World Report, and at Barnes and Noble on the internet. Contact Mr. Curtis at or P.O. Box 2043, Baltimore, MD 21203-2043.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The stated purpose of Chideya's book is to ``give readers a chance to question the depictions of race that have become standard in newspapers and on the nightly news, a map through the modern realities and misconceptions about race.'' She succeeds in 18 chapters, each of which discusses an issue, then examines the reality behind frequently asked questions and frequently held myths. For example, Chideya disputes the idea that most welfare mothers are black, have lots of children and no desire to work by citing figures on the ratio of black and white women on welfare, the average number of children each recipient has and their efforts in finding and keeping work. She uses this formula to tackle affirmative action, the armed forces, drugs, gangs, violence, sex, family values, politics and other issues. For someone with her news reporting background (a former staff reporter for Newsweek, she now works for MTV news), Chideya doesn't offer many supporting quotes. More personal insight from African Americans who have been stereotyped as the welfare mother, violent purse snatcher or hopeless drug addict would have offered greater readability and personality to what often sounds like a well-researched senior thesis. Still, the facts alone will make for good discussions after the evening news. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452270961
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1995
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Farai Chideya

Farai Chideya, author of Don't Believe the Hype: Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African Americans (Plume Penguin 1995), now in it's eigth printing, The Color of Our Future (William Morrow, 1999), named one of the best books for teens by the New York Public Library, and Trust: REaching the 100 Million Missing Voters (Soft Skull, 2004) has worked in print for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Time, Spin, Vibe, O, Mademoiselle, Essence, and more.

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Table of Contents

Test Your Racial Issues IQ
Pt. I Round One: Nature v. Nurture
1 When Is a Fact Not the Truth? 3
2 Black America at a Glance: A Statistical Overview of the African-American Community 13
3 Sex, Love, and Family Values 20
4 The Myth of the Welfare Queen 35
5 Where Home Is 46
Pt. II The Education of Black America
6 Teaching Them Well? 63
7 Ivory Towers: The African-American College and University Experience 80
Pt. III Money and Power
8 Affirmative Action and Employment Discrimination 103
9 Sixty Cents to the Dollar: Black Employment Patterns and Wages 115
10 Saving and Spending 133
11 Culture Clash: African-Americans in the Arts 140
12 Superstars: African-Americans in the World of Sports 154
Pt. IV The Structures of Society
13 A Quick Look Back 167
14 The New Old Racism 182
15 Whose Justice? 190
16 Drugs and Health 209
17 The Politics of Blackness 224
18 Who's Making What News? 241
Index 255
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2000

    Highly Recommended

    Ms. Chideya hits on topics and statistics that are vital to the understanding of how certain groups are perceived in America. She does an outstanding job of giving her readers a real look at the way things are. Highly recommended for anyone who seeks the truth.

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