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The Condemnation of Little B.

The Condemnation of Little B.

5.0 1
by Elaine Brown

Through the story of a thirteen-year-old black boy condemned to life in prison, Elaine Brown exposes the "New Age" racism that effectively condemns millions of poor African-Americans to a third world life. The story of "Little B" is riveting, a stunning example of the particular burden racism imposes on black youths. Most astonishing, almost all of the officials


Through the story of a thirteen-year-old black boy condemned to life in prison, Elaine Brown exposes the "New Age" racism that effectively condemns millions of poor African-Americans to a third world life. The story of "Little B" is riveting, a stunning example of the particular burden racism imposes on black youths. Most astonishing, almost all of the officials involved in bringing him to "justice" are black.

Michael Lewis was officially declared a ward of the state at age eleven, and then systematically ignored until his arrest for murder. Brown wondered how this boy could possibly have aroused so much public resentment, why he was being tried (and roundly condemned, labeled a "super-predator") in the press. Then she met Michael and began investigating his case on her own. Brown adeptly builds a convincing case that the prosecution railroaded Michael, looking for a quick, symbolic conviction. His innocence is almost incidental to the overwhelming evidence that the case was unfit for trial. Little B was convicted long before he came to court, and effectively sentenced years before, when the "safety net" allowed him to slip silently down. Brown cites studies and cases from all over America that reveal how much more likely youth of color are to be convicted of crimes and to serve long-even life-sentences, and how deeply the new black middle class is implicated in this devastating reality.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
Judging by this and the many other impressive insights in Elaine Brown's new book, the ex-chairman of the Black Panther Party still has fire in her belly. The Condemnation of Little B won't make her many friends -- it is unapologetic, one of the few recent books about the black experience that doesn't just repeat a litany of statistics about how well middle-class blacks are doing.
Los Angeles Times
For all the pathos of his story, The Condemnation of Little B is not your run-of-the-genre, gritty biographical tear-jerker. Multifaceted author Brown (a classically trained musician, writer, lecturer and former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party) has set herself a considerable challenge: to trace the historical and political arc connecting bigotry in America from pre-Revolutionary times to the present--in other words, to show how the legacy of Jefferson has impoverished the chances of Little B, along with his brothers in all the Bluffs of our abandoned inner cities. This is no scattershot diatribe. Brown's approach is reasoned, statistically documented and scrupulously footnoted. Yet her anger burns on every page.
Former Black Panther Party chairman Brown offers a well-written, detailed account of Little B, a black boy who was accused and convicted for a murder he did not commit. The entire city of Atlanta concurred that the suspect was evil, and without much investigation, "fingered" Little B, and the criminal justice found the suspect guilty. Brown reviews many angles of this case, including the complete trial transcript, rendering the reader nauseated and shocked at how deeply racism is woven throughout the US. The author also delves into much historical racism and provides interesting critiques of recent leaders who she believes are staunch supporters and defenders of race prejudice and discrimination (e.g., former president Bill Clinton, black sociologist and scholar William J. Wilson, Jesse Jackson, etc). Such coverage can be viewed as either overly comprehensive, straying from Little B's case, or very comprehensive and instructive. This reviewer feels that both micro- and macroscopic details about this case are simultaneously covered, despite Brown's very strong opinions about the diversity of images Americans have of their recent past leaders. The strength of such opinion is that she provides perspectives and analyses that beg for further discussions and debate. A highly recommended read for inquisitive minds.
Brown sharply contrasts Little B's treatment with that of the white youths involved in the Columbine shootings, 'alienated white youths' in need of psychological treatment versus "black predators" in need of incarceration. This is an absorbing analysis that will appeal to readers interested in contemporary social issues
The Condemnation of Little B, the story of Michael Lewis, who was 13 when he was alleged to have shot a man dead in Atlanta, where Brown herself now lives. Brown suggests that Lewis is the victim of 'New Age racism', which seeks to portray young black people as 'super-predators' while violent young white men, such as the teenagers who killed their fellow-students at Columbine, are described only as 'alienated'.
Publishers Weekly
In this damning, often excruciating account of racism in contemporary American society, Brown hangs her wide-ranging and well-documented argument on a specific instance of what she sees as emblematic of the problem: the prosecution and trial of 13-year-old African-American Michael Lewis for the 1997 murder of a black father of two in Atlanta....Brown tackles this story with the eyes and ears of an investigative reporter and spins a narrative that crackles with tension and enormous empathy.....Interwoven with this is Lewis's own story, an astute investigation into the media-created myth of the predatory black teen, an analysis of school voucher and faith-based community programs, a critique of the careers of Colin Powell and black scholar Henry Louis Gates, as well as the history of violence against African-Americans in the U.S. Packed with detail, strong arguments and flashes of brilliance, Brown's book is extraordinarily powerful.
In Little B., Brown writes with characteristic urgency, and through her investigation reveals ugly truths about American justice and our society's continued devaluation of the black child.

Meticulously researched and impeccably written, the book traces the events leading up the murder of Darrell Woods by then-13-year-old Michael Little B Lewis, who could be the poster child for ghetto dysfunctionality.

Black Issue Book Review
[A] sharp eye for detail . . . Here, with a few minor digressions and history lessons, Brown, whose potent revolutionary fervor emerges on every page, issues a terrifying wake-up call to all who are ready to write off increasingly demonized, underrated youth. Don't ignore this one!
From the Publisher
'A narrative that crackles with tension and enormous empathy. . . . Extraordinarily powerful.' --Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.36(h) x 1.23(d)

Meet the Author

Elaine Brown, the former chairman of the Black Panther Party, is the author of A Taste of Power, currently being developed by Suzanne de Passe as an HBO movie. She lectures widely and lives in Atlanta.

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