PositiveBooklistWith a fun, opinionated discography and impressive richness, eloquence, and intertextuality, Dyson’s portrait places the soon-to-be-50 husband of Beyoncé in cultural context for fans and the curious alike, linking Jay-Z’s life and art to painter Basquiat, crooner Marvin Gaye, and poet Walt Whitman. The author rhymes, uses alliteration, and delivers Dyson-isms to describe Jay’s endeavors ... Though he doesn’t interview the artist, he makes his case that as a truth-telling racial unifier, political influencer, and \'vocal evangelist for developing generational wealth in black communities,\' Jay-Z represents a symbol of \'overcoming\' for hip-hop culture and American society. At times Dyson sounds like a fanboy as he deliberately and refreshingly avoids rap-bashing, while quoted lyrics from profound, profane, tame, even lame songs by Jay-Z illuminate his artistic spectrum.
PositiveBooklist... reminds readers how skilled, funky, and glamorous the artist was ... There is royal weirdness here ... A work at turns affecting and raw, given that Piepenbring was not allowed to take notes or record conversations, this is, ultimately, an altar candle lit in the wake of an icon’s passing.
RaveBooklistPerry shares well-told and funny memories of family trips to Alabama, Chicago, and Cambridge, which signal heritage and privilege, and innumerable gems from Black cultural thinkers on perseverance. This mother’s striking and generous admonition to thrive even in the face of white mendacity also is a meditation on parenting. Reflective insights about injustice adjoin a few visceral apologies about every responsible parent’s regrets. For Black boys and their parents who struggle to get childhood and mothering-along or fathering-along correct: \'Just always remember: even if you tumble . . . you must move towards freedom.\'
Clyde W. Ford
MixedBooklistAs he seeks to contextualize his father’s and his own time as minority hires at IBM, Ford includes too few fully fleshed-out personal anecdotes among footnoted summaries of other books about IBM and its famed chair, Thomas J. Watson, who personally hired the author’s father. Ford contrasts Watson’s bringing his father onboard with IBM’s involvement with such racist horrors as eugenics, the Holocaust, and apartheid. Less convincingly presented are Ford’s views on how the atmosphere at IBM impacted his father or himself and the dynamics of institutional racism that \'thinking black\' apparently helped them fend off.
Ibram X. Kendi
PositiveBooklistWhile admirably fit for agitating discussion, some terms are confusing and feel labored, like Kendi’s hyphenated identifiers ... And his descriptions of his life in Queens, New York, Manassas, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seem structured to set himself up as proof of his sociological declaratives ... Kendi does successfully model self-examination and inspires readers to consider whether ignorance or self-interest drives racist policies into reality.
PositiveBooklist... well-researched, fresh, and sometimes funny ... Brook challenges others to view America through a \'sepia lens\' and reassert the value of discussing America’s pluralism.