Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

African-American Issues

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

African-American Issues

Article excerpt

More and more excellent books are being published with ethnic and multicultural interest and appeal. Here are a few that stood out this year:

Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography, edited by Deborah Willis (209 pages, New Press, $23), has arresting photos, film stills and daguerreotypes as the catalyst for expositions on subjects like affirmative action, school desegregation, lynching and hard-core poverty.

Contributors include poet E. Ethelbert Miller, filmmaker Kathe Sandler and bell hooks, the prolific and profound feminist theorist. Angela Davis discusses the lack of analysis regarding her political history in "Afro Images: Politics, Fashion and Nostalgia." Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor talks about the loss of visual documents in "When You Met Estella Smart, You Been Met!"

Overall, this collection is tightly written and highly provocative.

Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America, edited by Herb Boyd and Robert L. Allen (910 pages, Ballantine, $35). In Booker T. Washington's "Up From Slavery," he writes: "I had been working in a salt-furnace for several months, and my stepfather had discovered that I had a financial value and so, when the school opened, he decided that he could not spare me from work." When Washington decides to go to school anyway, the only way he can get to school on time is to advance the clock at work. We've come a long way from Washington's deception in pursuit of an education to what Jabari Asim has referred to as "up from thuggery" memoirs. In addition to making clever allusions, Asim writes fiction and is represented here by "Two Fools," a short story. Other entries include John Hope Franklin's "A Life of Learning," John Oliver Killens' "And Then We Heard The Thunder," and Jackie Robinson's "I Never Had It Made." In all, there are 155 contributors, including scholars, columnists, novelists and sports figures. …

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