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Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation Paperback – September 25, 2006
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
In this series of 11 essays, journalists Hopkinson and Moore probe black male archetypes of the hip-hop generation, but the Howard University grads' superficial application of Jacques Derrida's "deconstruction theory" limits the impact of their effort. ("Tyrone," the everyman moniker in Erykah Badu's 1997 female anthem, is the authors' cultural catchall for these black men.) Written in cheeky, intellectual-yet-down vernacular, the strongest chapters deliver convention-bending twists on familiar types. They introduce Etan Thomas, an erudite basketball player with a taste for politics; hypermasculine showboat Kwame Kilpatrick, not pimping in a rap video but leaning back in Detroit's mayoral mansion; and a gay couple restoring their well-appointed Victorian home while the kids are away at camp. But too often, trendy cultural arguments and the minutiae of each subject's life eclipse deeper analysis. The essay on Kwame Kilpatrick is less about unveling meanings buried in media and public perceptions than evaluating his uneven mayoral record. Essays like "Babydaddy" and "Tyrones in Training" complicate boilerplate images of young, hip-hop–loving black men, but rely exclusively on the views of babymamas and teen girls. Hopkinson and Moore offer snap shots of alternative black masculinities, but don't really break new ground. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The image of black masculinity is dominated these days by hip-hop culture, building on past images of violence and hypersexuality to form a modern archetype. Journalists Hopkinson and Moore have covered the black urban cultural and political scene and have garnered some insights into the image of the archetype they call "Tyrone." They examine Tyrone through the lens of media coverage of the music and sports industries, as well as through the perspectives of black women. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect or personality of the modern black male: Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, often called the "Hip-Hop Mayor"; the brainy son of a black militant, serving time for murder and mindful of the disproportionate incarceration of young black men; young blacks who start their own businesses as the economy fails to find places for them; black men as "babydaddies" but not husbands; and black men on the down-low, denying their homosexuality. In conclusion, Hopkinson and Moore offer personal reflections from mothers and adolescents on their hopes for the future of relationships between black men and women. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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This book is much stronger than Cose's "Envy of the World" or Dawsey's "Living to Tell About It." You may want to read it alongside strong works such as Neal's "New Black Man." This was published by Cleis Press. I am impressed how that press is including more than Susie Bright fans recently.
I learned some interesting things from this book. For example, the Natalies say that upper-class Black men marry as rarely as poor Black males. I love that the authors call out Jawanza Kunjufu on his homophobic writings. Still, the journalists come to no conclusion and this may frustrate many. For example, do they think Detroit's Mayor Kilpatrick is a bad or good politician? Do they think strippers are victims of abuse or women with much agency and business skills? Also, some chapters felt too internal, as if they were talking to themselves, rather than about topics that others would find interesting.
Two chapters, one on strippers and one on adolescent girls, troubled the ideas of Black masculinity. On the one hand, these chapters can be seen as anti-essentialist. As women's studies departments become gender studies departments, space is being made to discuss males and this book reflects that. This may prove, again, how much males and females need each other. On the other hand, some may say the writers are going off-topic. These female-dominant chapters may suggest the writers were running out of topics or had to go to women in order to discuss Black males.
The authors spoke in Chicago in November of last year and I regret not hearing their talk deeply. I recommend this book for many readers, across age and gender categories.
The book outlines the choice and change of the community and how the effects have extended itself to the outer suburbs and beyond. The glamour of the "Baller" lifestyle has changed the game. The author profiles certain examples and the pushes and pulls that lead these young men to believe that the only way out of what they see as a deperate, never ending life is to go the way of the "hustler," "baller," "player," or "pimp."
An entertaining read that anyone could learn from. One which will give a real perspective on "keeping it real."
The chapter "Boy Born Saturday" talks about Michigan's "Hip-Hop Mayor", Kwame Kilpatrick and his role as mayor of Detroit and how he is perceived in and outside of Michigan. The chapter named "Thomas, 36" is about Washington Wizards forward Etan Thomas, a basketball player who has a voice outside of the basketball arena, who is not afraid to pronounce his dissent to the Iraq war and is not afraid to write poetry as well. The chapter "Hip-Hop" further explores the role of hip-hop on black men and how their masculinity is seen. And one of the most interesting chapters was "Boy Born Friday" about Kofi "Debo" Ajabu, a young man schooled and trained in the Black Panther Militia, college student and a gang member. His life takes a turn for the worse and even with all his knowledge and his belief the establishment has been a suppressor, his own actions caused him the biggest trouble. The other chapters in the book are just as informative and insightful.
DECONSTRUCTING TYRONE: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation is not a negative portrayal of black men, but the truth as seen from different viewpoints. Hopkinson and Moore used a variety of sources, even their own personal views to explore black masculinity. Although some of the observations are not new, they are still meaningful. Hopkinson and Moore are not offering definitive solutions for a better perception of black men, just views on how they are perceived and ways to hopefully open dialogue for change.
Reviewed by Cashana Seals
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers