John McWhorter, author of Authentically Black and Losing the Race, makes me uncomfortable. He is one of the black neo-conservatives who challenges the old-guard civil rights establishment and says that many of African America’s coping mechanisms and ideas about race and class are self-defeating. I try to read and listen to “the other side” from time to time and am working my way through Authentically Black as a result. McWhorter makes me uncomfortable because what he says a)often comes across as harsh b) or what we might otherwise label as racist and c) because I find myself agreeing with some of his points (definitely not all). Anyway, I read this essay in City Journal recently. Here he writes about how rap retards black success. Since I had my son (even before, really) I’ve listened to less rap, hip hop and even youth-oriented pop. A part of that is because I’m older and partying and talking trash is not on my agenda. But part of it is that I am over the bitch and ‘ho labelling, the cursing in general and the often unhealthy sexual imagery. Now, though, I can’t even listen to it because it’s going into my son’s head too. I won’t keep him from listening to popular music, but I definitely want to wait as many years as possible and I will be monitoring the airwaves and CDs and mP3s like a hawk.
HarambeeJournal sent me a note about this book, Shifting, The Double Lives of Black Women in America. It sounds like something I should read. And it makes me want to get serious about starting my luncheon book club. Perhaps I will, if I can find another couple of hours a week and a few friends to buy in.
I’ve been very mystery-focused lately, with Paula L. Woods’ Charlotte Justice character. I’ve ready Inner-City Blues and Stormy Weather and both were good. I do think that her stories are a bit less intense than some other mysteries. The main character is under duress, but not in the same, end-of-book fashion as some other sleuths. Still, I like her tone and the way it’s very contemporary, but still written, not just thrown together.
I’m now reading Douglass’ Women, by Jewell Parker Rhodes, who I’ve never read. It’s a novel about Frederick Douglass’ black wife and white mistress. I haven’t read any historical novels for awhile, definitely not slavery novels. I think I had my fill of that for a time after taking the Slavery in the Novel class during graduate school. I loved the work and the research, but now that reading is chiefly an escape from dishes, laundry and a day job, I need a lot more fun fantasy in my head.