I wish I could say that this is the best book I ever read. It wasn’t. I wish I could say it was the worst, though it came close, it wasn't. The title caught my attention on the library shelf. Hence, I borrowed it. It’s supposed to be about the author’s experience with racism at The Washington Post. Question: What racism? I read the entire book and I didn’t see any act of racism towards her. I did see two acts of sexual discrimination toward her by two African American men, including one very crude incident, but no racial bias.
First off, the author is very hostile from the very first page of her ramblings on about being black. I guess from her experience she had to be. I read a great deal: whatever interests me. From the get go, she is very aware she is black. Perhaps that is why without even looking at her, others around her were so aware. Me, I don’t care who you are; sex, race, religion; ethnicity; if your book interest me, I’ll read it. That is what happened here. She says she’s from the upper middle class and educated, but her writing does not reflect it. Perhaps, it is her hostility that hides it. Personally, I don’t know what she was expecting. She was called out of the blue for a premiere job to a ‘white’ run newspaper in 1986; mostly run by white men. She went from being a free-lance writer making $20,000 a year in New York City to making $50,000 a year without the typical qualifications the Post looked for. Yes, she discovers that they hired her as a token black woman to fill a quota, but they could have hired someone else. It was up to her to make a difference, not only for herself, her daughter and blacks everywhere, but she didn’t. Here was a golden opportunity for a woman, a black woman and she didn’t run with it. Why didn’t she? Why did she turn it into a white world versus black me instead? I don’t get it. We all face racism and/or sexism every day in every way and yet we endure and try to make something of it. Why couldn’t she? She chose not to. I’m willing to bet that even now, instead of learning from this experience and moving on, she still focuses on it and hasn’t moved on.
As another reviewer said, she didn’t know the first thing about office politics and obviously wasn’t willing to learn. She was a trouble maker with a big mouth, but if you listen to her, everyone was against her because she was a black woman and not because she didn’t like her job. She signs a travel voucher using her bosses’ initials and sees nothing wrong with that. It was forgery plain and simple. When she gets a week suspension without pay, does she see the error of her ways? No, she blames the management for discrimination and volunteer slavery because she is required to work and not get her paycheck of $1043.00 per week that she hates. She recalls a story of another black female writer named Janet Cooke that made up a story and won a Pulitzer Prize and blames ‘the white folks’ for making her do it. Uh-anyone else see anything wrong with that? The reporter lied, won an award and it was supposed to be okay because ‘the white folks made her do it.’ Not only that, but the reporter lied about her education and background on top of it. Yup; it was discrimination when The Post called her on it. Clear-cut bias.
She went into a job working for people she didn’t like and hated it the entire time she was there. She never tried to like it. All she did was whine how bad how job was. Even her mother told her to stop it and just enjoy the paycheck she was collecting. If it was so bad, why did she stick it out for four long, ‘harrowing’ years?’ Answer: because the money was good and the job was close enough to heaven than any job she ever had. Oh-yes. She was a free-lance writer. She had no ‘real job’. She made her own schedule and worked for no one, least of all ‘the white folks.’ Sister, you had an opportunity with no experience. How many other sisters and brothers actually qualified for that job that you didn’t, yet you got it because someone happened to recommend you when they needed a token ‘sister’? Take a chill pill, girlfriend, because you had it good and you complained. Hell, I would have loved to make $50,000 a year back in 1986 in any job that would have me, especially for one that I didn’t qualify for. In the end, no one actually came out and racially discriminated against her. It was all her perception of how things went down for her.
Overall, an amusing read. Despite what the back blurb promised, I didn’t read of her “harrowing four years at The Post, her experience with poverty, flame-out love affairs, and a nervous breakdown. She went through depression, but no breakdown. It was in no way the “scalding expose of the racial, sexual and corporate politics of The Post.” The adage of never judge a book by its cover is no more appropriate than it is here with this book. I applaud her courage for writing a book and getting it published. I just don’t get why it was a bestseller or a Book Award Winner when it didn’t follow through on what it promised. The blurb was an embellishment in what the book was supposed to be about. There was no racial bias aimed toward her in this book. Sexual discrimination by two brothers, but not by “white folks”. Personally, I think she was just looking for a way to make a buck. She doesn’t particularly think very highly of herself, her mother or her older sister either. Everyone seems to get on her nerves and it’s all “their fault: the white folks”. I’m surprised she didn’t blame the “white folks” for her experience with all kinds of drugs, her sister’s experience with them and her brother Stanley’s drug addiction. That is the gist of this book. None of it is her fault. In the end, she quit The Washington Post. They didn’t fire her. Funny thing is, all that time there, she never parlayed any of it into another job from there. I guess this book was it. She may have been the only black female writer on staff, but she certainly wasn’t the only black. Interestingly enough, she is elected as Union President and leads a discrimination suit against management for women, black staff and older workers, and a variety of ethnic groups, but not just for herself. This alone shows the readers that there was no racism. Otherwise, where was her EEO complaint? Overall, a disappointing book in what it tried to do.