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!
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! :-)
Essential reading for understanding race relations. The online classroom support is great. It needs to be mentioned on the site that the book is written at a 7th grade reading level. The chapters are an excellent length for making into assignments. Brian should publish chapter one on the site for interested viewers to see - they will realize what a goldmine it is!
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.
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.