I picked this book up from the NYU Press booth at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference this year. I was excited to read about the exploration of an Afrocentric church in Atlanta. More importantly, I believe that this text is a dissertation turned book. With my graduate school eye, I wanted to explore this text for style and message as I begin my own academic writing journey.
As I begin to flesh out my dissertation proposal, I am exposing myself to some recent (last decade) texts that engage ideas of Black male identity in America. I was referred to this book by my advisor, and as an admirer of Robin D. G. Kelley, I was intrigued to engage in a book of his. Unfortunately, this book is somewhat dated. Many of the thoughts and ideas he shared were familiar to me. However, the final chapter / epilogue was creative and eloquent in ways that many other books to not take a chance on doing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. In the end, I can sum up the points in the book by one sentence for each chapter.
Chapter 1: Social science constructed a monolithic view of authentic blackness rooted in males.
Chapter 2: As an alternative to the unproductive Black man metanarrative, Kelley proposes that the quest for fame and fortune by playing sports or turning to leisure to make money is a product of limited economic and work opportunities for Black men.
Chapter 3: limits of self-help (self explanatory)
Chapter 4: Engaging the political scientists and philosophers that are admirers of the enlightenment.
Chapter 5: support for labor union organizing
I just reread Joan Morgan’s feminist manifesto, “When Chickenheads Come to Roost”. I read this book for the first time when I was 18, a freshman at Howard University, who only picked it up because she could not believe that a book containing the word “Chickenhead” in the title could be on sale in the University bookstore. I will admit, that I did not understand what I was reading then. So much so, that I probably did not finish the book and ultimately lost track of that original copy. Years later, as a graduate student, I would meet Ms. Morgan face to face as she was a panelist at my school with some other notable Black journalists and scholars. I adored her and her perspective then. I followed her (and became exposed to those who have been nurtured through her work) on social media from then on. Years after that, at the National Women’s Studies Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I managed to find a panel discussion in which Joan Morgan was given true honorary tribute for her contributions to feminist scholarship through the publication of her classic text.
After taking a picture with this beautiful woman, I returned home and told myself… it is time. It is time for you to put some energy and investment in reading this book (and many others… I find that I am in one of my cycles… and during this period, I read a lot…). Without question, this book is definitely an important read. And despite my graduate education, this book is one of those mighty gamechangers that all of Morgan’s followers allude to.