Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching
Mature YA/Adult nonfiction
"The nigger is America's greatest asset and its greatest fear.
The nigger represents the bottom, from slavery to incarceration,
America's most reliable source of exploited labor. The nigger
generates profit that America feels no obligation to share. The
nigger is reminded of its position at the bottom by being shuttered
off in the worst neighborhoods with the least amount of resources,
while being told to be grateful for America's benevolence. And so
long as the nigger exists, America can say to its other exploited
populations, 'At least you aren't the nigger.'"
Did your life change any when you learned about George Zimmerman
shooting Trayvon Martin? Maybe you were saddened or angered,
motivated to write a letter to the editor or attend a protest. Surely
you saw how young black men are endangered by some of the very people
entrusted to serve and protect us all. For Mychal Denzel Smith this
pivotal moment provided a series of ephanies that culminated in
Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's
Education. He asked himself how he learned how to be a black man in
America. The book is insightful, disquieting, and well worth reading.
Smith was born into a Navy family during Reagan's presidency.
His parents were and expected him to become the epitome of black
respectability. He was not to wear ghetto styles, listen to rap
music, or use anything but correct English. He was to, through being
twice as good as whites and acquiring an education, show the world he
was not "just another black man."
"But the right kind of black. The successful, respectable kind
of black. The kind of black that was 'twice as good,' that made
itself known and then faded. The kind of black that would allow
people to just see a man. The kind of black man my father was raising
me to be."
Shall we say things did not go according to paternal plan? He
discovered Malcolm X and hit an age where his parents could no longer
censor his music. When he started college he hoped to bond with
others eager to unite to bring down the racist system. "Instead I
found thousands of mini-Obamas and an administration happy to indulge
Smith candidly shares his experiences of being a young male
black in a less than hospitable environment. Unarmed peers were shot
by police. In the post Katrina chaos black families were described as
looting while whites were looking for food. Black rage was to be
hidden lest it give the wrong impression.
I think this is a book that needs to be universally read,
particularly by those of us who are white.
Meteorologically, Maine has just been slammed by yet another
nor'easter. We're back to being snowed under. The meteorologist who
delivered the blow by blow last night was like an 8-year-old on
Christmas Eve. My husband, who is out plowing as I write this, was a
tad less enthusiastic.
On a personal note, I've started tracking down sponsors for the
upcoming UMaine dance marathon to raise money for Children's Miracle
Network. It's my 4th year and, as always, I approach it with a
mixture of excitement and trepidition. Why the trepidation? Petit
mal eilepsy + flashing colored lights = not quite the winning
A great big shout put goes out to all planning to participate.
Sent from my iPod