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We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity 0th Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415969277
ISBN-10: 0415969271
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Veteran pundit hooks unpacks the explosive contents of Gwendolen Brooks's famous 1960 poem "The Pool Players: Seven at the Golden Shovel," taking her title from the opening of the poem. Like Brooks, hooks worries about the men in her life, black men experiencing crises of masculinity as prisoners (sometimes literally) of patriarchal imperialism. Hooks argues that black men have become chary of the simple goodness of being loved. From George Jackson's Soledad Brother to Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption, hooks finds that black men are taught violence and aggression as the keys to survival, an ideology that is reified in the lucrative gangs-and-guns side of hip-hop music and culture. Mainstream culture inculcates fear of black men, rewarding them most when they act out the "Native Son" role of brutal psychopath to confirm that fear, … la the intensive media coverage of the Nicole Brown Simpson murder. Malcolm X, moving away from black separatism toward a politics of global justice, was gunned down by "state-supported black-on-black violence." Hooks attacks the stereotype of the older black woman as powerful matriarch, fiercely independent of men. In reality, she says, "most black women have been more than willing to surrender control over their hard-earned resources to the men in their lives: father, brothers, lovers, and husbands." Hooks, a writer of extraordinary skill, pads out her insights with lengthy quotations from many sources, which thin but don't fully dilute her revolutionary message of love.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hooks asserts that black men have been so dehumanized that they are in crisis emotionally and at risk within society. Yet she posits that the greatest threat to black life in America is patriarchal thinking and practices. She points to the current instability of black male employment in contrast to improved employment opportunities for black women, something many black men have trouble accepting because of the cultural dictates that men should dominate women. Too many black men face a host of troubling social dynamics--including alienation from their fathers and their children. Hooks advises them to emulate the many black women who turn to self-examination and self-love and to break with the macho demands and values of a patriarchal culture. Although hooks is heavily feminist in her critique, her recollections of her own family experiences and growing up black in America reflect extraordinary insight into both our cultural frailties and our potential. Readers interested in black cultural issues from a feminist perspective will enjoy this book. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (November 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415969271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415969277
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In ten quick chapters, bell describes how black men hurt and how they can heal. This book was an interesting mix of chicken soup, history, and cultural criticism. For those who have been disappointed by bell's recent books on love and autobiographies, this book is her return to her prime. It reminded me much of "Sisters of the Yam" and "Talking Back."
Two things stand out in this book. First, bell finally critiques rap. She mentioned in a previous book how a magazine dropped a discussion between her and Ice Cube because they expected her to go off on him. In "Outlaw Culture," she chose to criticize "The Piano" (with its disturbing depiction of Maoris) rather than rap at home. Just as Spike Lee did a great job in portraying drugs in "Jungle Fever" (and gay black men in "Get on the Bus" for that matter) after being pushed by critics, bell tackles rap in a sharp, yet critical, way.
Second, she condemns Ellis Cose's harmless "Envy of the World," oddly. She chews up that book in every chapter. The last time she read somebody in every chapter was Sharazad Ali in "Breaking Bread." Surely, Cose cannot be deemed an enemy the way Ali rightfully was. He's not half as irritating as Camille Paglia. Like a brother once said to her regarding Spike, "bell, why you messing with that brotha!?" She practically tells him, "I'mma whoop you more if you don't cry like you mean it!" for no reason. All the time she spent attacking him, she could have used citing Devon Carbrado, Don Belton, Robert Staples, and many other black male writers on masculinity that she forgets.
She finally drops the subjects of her past loves as they were already heavily discussed in at least four of her books. She rightfully remembers the abuse heaped upon her by her father.
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Format: Paperback
bell hooks does it again. She demonstrates her love of humanity and her community with this gift to Black men. As a man of color, I see how patriarchal notions of white malehood have destroyed this planet and our communities. I hope my brothers of all races heed bell's warnings and embrace feminism.
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Format: Paperback
This was the first time I came across any of Dr. hooks' work, and I was very impressed. I appreciated that she went and did her research before she wrote about something as sensitive about black men and our masculinity. She had a very tough, but thoughtful critique of why black men are suffering today. Some may not agree with her thoughts, possible solutions, and such, but for me, I'm definitely feelin' her. The only thing which did upset me was the amount of typos in the book, but that is due to poor editing and not the content of what hooks brought. Everyone, from black men to black women and on down has to come to the realization that some sort of self-analysis needs to be done in order to be completely whole. She's done it, and still does so. Kevin Powell (who she mentions in her book) wrote a series of essays which he admitted wrongdoings in the past, and he's on his way to self-discovery and self-fulfillment. I feel like I am on that same road they have traveled of finding myself, loving myself, being honest and true with myself first, and it has led to a certain type of freedom in me I had not experienced before. Once other brothers (and sisters) realize a lot of what she said is true and needs to be addressed, we will all be better off collectively.
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Format: Paperback
There are times when one enters into a text blindly knowing not what to expect. One sets no expectations that their present opinions will be confirmed or refuted. They simply are on a journey and reaching out for other input about the direction of their walk. I came to locate this text at while browsing the Chicago Public Library and am delighted that I chose to add it to my present reading list. She calls it "radical black masculinity" though by the time you reach the end of the text you realize that she is seeking a certain return of a black masculinity that we once held which is now lost to many of us.

Upon reading such chapters as "Gangsta Culture" and "Schooling Black Males", I saw glimmers and glimpses of my formative years pass by. I recall one instance where I was in the car with my mother and I decided to play the tape in my Walkman which was by a group called the Luniz and an album titled "Operation Stackola". In the particular song I played, "Put The Lead On Ya", a rapper named Dru Down utters the words "and if you're a woman / don't think i still won't put the lead on ya / bitchhhh". My mother without pause snatched the tape out of the deck and tossed it from the car window. Why did I think this sort of material was acceptable to play either for my mother's ears or my own? Why was I obsessed with emulating the sexual lothario and street combativeness that I saw emanating from my brother's daily existence? How did I come from the place where I previously lived to the ground where I now stand? I credit the women.
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