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Not a Genuine Black Man: My Life as an Outsider Paperback – March 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage; First Trade Paper Edition edition (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596923113
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596923119
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,152,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Essential reading for understanding race relations.
Brett A. Brown
I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeks to understand a new perspective, or anyone who simply enjoys a good read.
CMorrissey
If you ever decide to tell her story I'm sure people would listen.
David M.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lidja on December 8, 2008
This is an excellent book in so many ways. Copeland does a great job keeping the book personal and universal at the same time. Anyone (Everyone?) who has ever felt different will be able to relate to the stories he tells, for the stories are really about being the outsider, not just being a member of a minority race. The book is divided up very well - short chapters that relate specific vignettes give the reader frequent opportunities to pause and reflect about how s/he would have felt in a similar situation. There is an interesting interplay between Brian's own memories and experiences and how they connect (or disconnect) to the documented history of the community. Not only do we get an insider's view of the challenges of being a black male in society, but we also get glimpses into the challenges of mental illness, elitism, fame, bureaucracy, commerce, and parenthood. It is a very interesting read! Thank you Brian, for being so frank and willing to share some difficult personal experiences.

BTW, I thought the discussion questions for readers at the back of the tome were totally lame. For you book group leaders, dump those questions and focus on the rich and genuine (ha) anecdotes in the book - there are plenty of topics and ideas in the book that are far more interesting than the pathetic bologna in that appendix! :-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melissa on February 13, 2011
This is a great book! Mr. Copeland does a wonderful job of letting people get a real view of what life was like for black people in San Leandro in the 1970's. It is candid, open, honest, funny and sad. He talks about real life and real life issues. It's a great, easy, valuable and enjoyable read!
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From politicians to educators, the question that has been explored, discussed, dissected and perhaps just about beaten to death has been, why aren't young black men more successful in school?

Copeland addresses the gorilla in the room that people from the inner city either try to pretend isn't there, or jeer at. The gorilla is this: is it okay to be successful if you are a young black man? If you get A's, have you betrayed your race? Are you guilty of failing to keep it real?

I am not black, but am a member of a tri-racial family, and the only white person in my house. I've watched this dilemma play out. How does a brilliant black man go to college, and keep his friends from the streets? Or does he? Hanging out with an all-white crowd is out of the question, and so the alternatives bear a lot of examination. And I know that especially with a black president in office, a lot of young men of color are dealing with some confusing ideas.

If you watch BET, you may get the impression that being black and successful is great, if you do it in a way that goes completely around all things considered respectable or even legal by mainstream (and mostly white) society. Copeland deals with these stereotypic messages, and he does it skillfully.

I won't spoil the ending by telling you what Copeland decides qualifies a person as a "genuine black man", but he is really sage about it. And why not? Having survived and seen so much, he should certainly know.

This is a brilliant book, and an intense one. The last time so much humor and rage occupied the same place was when Lenny Bruce was alive, and that's been a minute or two.

Do yourself a favor. Regardless of your color, age, or gender, read this book...because we all occupy the same planet.
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Brian Copeland's new memoir shows us the world through the eyes of an 8-yr old black boy and the challenges of growing up black in an all-white neighborhood and school. He never really got to relax and enjoy his childhood because life was pretty much a war zone for him. His absentee father would show up and verbally abuse him, as did potentially anyone he came in contact with. So he had no role model; he had to grow up too soon and become the man of the house. The protector of his mother and younger sisters. No one was in his corner. Teachers feared uprisings or job loss for taking up for him. As he got older he learned how to mask his fears and to use humor to cover up the painful past. The book also delves into mental illness. When suffering from tearful outbursts for no apparent reason, his psychiatrist likened his condition to PTST - Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Dealing with that after all these years has made him a stronger person, and one who can reach out to help others. The book is a huge eye-opener. It is a heartwrenching read. But his humorous writing provides the foil needed to keep the reader from throwing down the book and drowning in despair and shame for what injustices blacks went through in order to get out of the ghetto and to have a productive, satisfying, prosperous life. While race is a big part of the book, Copeland insists his story is more about being an outsider and what skills outsiders can use to "cope" in a "land" of insiders. I highly recommend this book! I couldn't put it down! I am a richer person for having read it.
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This book honestly helped me understand the struggles my husband has been through. As the white half of an interracial family, I can only strive to understand the pressures and multiple faces he has had to wear to succeed and thrive in our society.

The author is humble without coming off as a martyr. He is funny without making light of the serious issues he brings to the table. I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeks to understand a new perspective, or anyone who simply enjoys a good read.
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