Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education

Nation. Jun. 2016. 240p. ISBN 9781568585284. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781568585291. MEMOIR
Black men have long been viewed as objects of dread whom most others in America prefer not to see, indeed typically cannot see as whole persons, argues Nation contributing writer Smith. In this work, the author, who was born in 1986 in Washington, DC, to a military family, unfolds his path to manhood, describing how boys in the black community are wrenched between the cautions and hopes of parents, elders, and community on the one side, and the dominant white culture in which black men are often stereotyped, on the other. As a result, these youth face the dangers and difficulties of classism, elitism, self-hatred, depression, and violence. Smith provides insightful notes on the personalities and politics represented by pointed markers in history, instances when blacks were being murdered, while also explaining how attending Hampton University (an HBCU, or historically black college and university) broadened his perspective. Smith's reflections, titled with a lyric from performer Mos Def's song "Hip Hop," shimmer with cultural commentary that should prompt all readers to do more than simply think or talk about the state of race in America in general (and black America in particular).
VERDICT This book will appeal to those who enjoyed similar recent works such as Carol Anderson's White Rage and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me.
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