Sunday, June 21, 2015

America: The Black Point of View (BOOK REVIEW)

The Black Point of View
by Tony Rose
Amber Books
Paperback, $21.95
572 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-1-937269-50-0

Book Review by Kam Williams

I come from a place that is so invisible that you can hardly see me. Yet, I am despised, hated and feared more than anyone or anything... I live in the underbelly of America and I am poor and have nothing. I am a Black man... and I am invisible, until someone kills me...
This book is essentially a children's story. A story of millions of children locked away in the segregated, red-lined ghettos and housing projects of America. I found out early on that this was not going to be an easy book to write.
I wanted to write an autobiography about... the horrific murderers, pimps, gangsters, rapists, child abusers and thieves that I grew up with... [but] I soon realized that I could not write about me as an African-American... without writing about White America.
I also wanted to write about what it was like for a child... in the real ghetto, the projects... where, contrary to how poor Black people are always depicted, there was no God, no church on Sundays, and no singing in the choir.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (page 1)

Tony Rose is the CEO of Amber Communications Group, the largest African-American publisher of self-help books and music biographies. He is also the author of several books and an NAACP Image Award-winner as publisher of “Obama Talks Back:: Global Lessons.” 
So, it probably comes as quite a surprise that a man of such considerable accomplishment would hail from a humble background. In fact, Tony's upbringing in Boston back in the Fifties and Sixties was way worse than merely modest, given how he and his sister were raised in a rough Roxbury ghetto they were lucky to survive.

His absentee-dad was rarely around after being caught molesting his daughter, not that the heroin addicted-pimp/Mafia hit man would have made much of a role model. Consequently, Tony's mom was totally dependent on that bi-weekly Welfare check from the government. And up until she lost her mind in 1965, the emotionally-abusive woman was fond of routinely reminding her kids that they were “black and ugly” and that nobody wanted them. Charming.

Nevertheless, Tony was wise enough not to lay all of the blame for his nightmarish childhood on his parents, since so many of his friends had to deal with similar dysfunction. After all, he describes the Whittier St. projects where he grew up as “a red fortress filled with screaming children, cold brutal gangs and women.” 
Therefore, he decided to open his memoirs with a 100+ page blistering attack on the 70% of White America that remains ostensibly indifferent to the country's shameful legacy of slavery, segregation and institutional racism . For, their destructive by-products exact a continuing toll as evidenced in the African-American masses' ongoing suffering in squalor due to a seemingly-irreversible cultural collapse. 
“America: The Black Point of View” proves to be a very timely tome, as it even addresses the epidemic of shootings of unarmed blacks like Travon Martin, Jordan Davis and now the 9 Charleston churchgoers by cowardly whites. The author points out that “the weak white coward is not interested in going up against the real black gangster, they know the difference; but, they use the real black gangster as their excuse” for killing the innocent and the defenseless. 
Following that damning digression, Tony proceeds to relate his own heartbreaking life story, warts and all, in a vivid fashion that just jumps off the page. The jaw-dropping opus covers only his formative through teen years, a period he spent doing everything from killing roaches to subsisting on celery soup to standing up to neighborhood bullies. 

Overall, an alternately poignant and powerful autobiography that is as much a riveting overcoming-the-odds memoir as it is a searing indictment of the United States as a racist society.

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