10 July 2010

"Losing My Cool" by Thomas Chatteron Williams

Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop CultureLosing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture by Thomas Chatterton Williams

On my TBR list?: No
Genre: memoir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

DISCLOSURE: I obtained this book for free through the Goodreads' First Reads program. They don't require a review, but it is strongly recommended if you want to be considered for more books.

Synopsis, from Amazon:

Growing up in Westfield, New Jersey, with a father who loved wisdom and ran an SAT prep business in a home crammed with books, Williams blithely ignored all that in favor of the hip-hop culture he heard and saw on BET. He spent his youth meticulously studying and imitating images of cool and thuggishness and listening to music that glorified misogyny, violence, and bling. The objective was to be "authentically black", despite his white mother and erudite father.

This book touched me more than I expected it, too. Even though I am not biracial, my mother is, and she was raised completely by the white side of her family. So she didn't know anything about "keeping it real"; it was almost like having a white mother myself. As a result, I could identify with Williams' acute awareness as a child that he was not like the other black kids in his neighborhood. The difference is that I didn't want to be like them, whereas Williams dove headlong into hip-hop culture in a effort to fit in and appear more black.

The best parts of the book for me were in the beginning when the author is chronicling his high-school experiences. I was fascinated by how self-aware he was. He was able to fit in and appear authentically "street" while still realizing that the way he was acting may not have been the best way to behave. The book became more difficult for me to understand toward the end when Williams started talking about philosophy and things like the Master-Slave Dialectic. Also, there are some spots where I think he was a little harsh on hip-hop music, as if it was BET's fault that he spent his teen years as an imitation thug. Overall, this is a book that lets people know that there is more than one way to be black and that everyone's journey is different.

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