This act of reconciling the inherent humanity of Black people against the position they have been held in in American society is present in all of the essays of the collection; each deals with the effects of racism ... Some essays find the humor in awkward and uncomfortable situations ... The personal essays of How to Make a Slave and Other Essays consider what was gained and lost when Walker, a Black father and academic, sought to join America’s middle class.
The essays in this collection are restless, brilliant and short; all but one are fewer than 10 pages. The brevity suits not just Walker’s style but his worldview, too. Longer pieces would require the kind of connective tissue that might risk turning the essays into closed systems, sealing off entries and exits. Keeping things quick gives him the freedom to move; he can alight on a truth without pinning it into place.
Powerful essays offers an incisive glimpse into life as a Black man in America ... Walker demonstrates the keen intellect and direct style that characterized his acclaimed 2010 memoir, Street Shadows ... the author deftly combines both humor and humanity without obscuring the impact of such experiences on him as a husband, father, son, and educator ... Crafted with honesty and wry comedic flair, these essays are both engaging and enraging.