1. Hope on a Tightrope: Words & Wisdom by Cornel West
Hope on a Tightrope earns the #1 spot at the dawn of the new political era of Barack
Obama. Why? Because in spite of the uncritical euphoria surrounding Obama’s
historic accomplishment, Dr. West has
the guts to call attention to the pressing plight of the least of his brethren even
before the President-elect has had a chance to
Plus, the iconoclastic author, in
urging the incoming administration to address the concerns of the poor and
underprivileged, cleverly invokes “the fierce urgency of now,” the same phrase
coined by Dr. Martin Luther King and appropriated by Obama as his campaign theme.
Props to Professor West for such a passionate reminder that the struggle for equality
couldn’t possibly end automatically with the ascension of a Black man to the nation’s
2. Faith under Fire: A Memoir by
is aware of the devastating toll the escalating AIDS rate has been taking on
the black community. For this reason, inner city schools all over the country
ought to consider adding this memoir to their curriculum as a precautionary
measure. The book revolves around author LaJoyce Brookshire’s relationship with
a duplicitous brother on the down low who callously put his monogamous wife’s
life at risk.
Only well into their marriage did a
bell go off in her head, but by then he already had full-blown AIDS, and she
was left in shock by the carousing, carelessness and sexual preferences by a
partner she had incorrectly assumed to be a straight, faithful spouse. Not
exactly anybody’s idea of a fairy tale romance, but a wake-up call ice to
sisters who can’t be too careful, given the rampant spread of AIDS by convicts,
intravenous drug users and brothers simply too afraid to admit they’re gay or
bisexual due to the intolerant nature of a macho, inner-city culture marked by
an intolerance of homosexuality.
3. Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph by C. Vivian
When Don Imus
referred to the young women on the Rutgers University Basketball Team as “nappy
headed-hos” a year ago, it deeply affected their Coach, Vivian Stringer who “couldn’t shake the feeling that I had
fallen down in my responsibility to protect these girls.” What almost nobody
knew is that Vivian was recovering from breast cancer at the time Imus’
indefensible remarks thrust her into the national limelight, and that her
mother suffered a stroke right in the middle of the controversy.
So, Stringer never let on that she was
going through chemo and caring for her seriously-ill mom while handling the
crisis with the utmost poise and dignity. Poignantly written without a whit of
bitterness, Standing Tall is as moving a memoir as I ever remember reading. The
tears started flowing from the first page and didn’t stop till I finished the
4. Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re
Not Hurting by Terrie M. Williams
Social Worker Terrie Williams is most
persuasive, here, making the argument that life is hard in the ‘hood, that
people are suffering from depression as a consequence, and that the time has
arrived to remove the stigma in the community still attached to seeking out
psychological help. A convincing call for African-Americans to trade in their
self-defeating stoicism for some long-overdue mental health treatment.
5. Don't Blame It on Rio by Jewel Woods
and Karen Hunter
Did you know that Brazil has become the
favorite vacation destination of a rapidly-increasing number of professional African-American
males? Are black women even necessary any longer? Perhaps not, according to Jewel
Woods and Pulitzer Prize-winner Karen Hunter, co-authors of this eye-opening
expose’ which blows the cover off the clandestine sex trade currently
flourishing in Rio.
The city is apparently a popular port
of call with bourgie brothers from the U.S. due to the easy availability
of local women who don’t have the attitude or emotional baggage they generally
find attached to sisters back home. A rather revealing look at a disturbing cultural
6. Be a Father to Your Child by April
How do African-American males feel
about fatherhood nowadays? Here’s a hint: Between 70 and 85% of black kids are
now being raised by single-moms. The popular notion is that misogynistic
gangsta rap might have formed men generally unwilling to shoulder their fair
share of the burden when it comes to parenting.
But before you jump to conclusions, you
might want to read this collection of empowering essays by black men of the
Hip-Hop Generation who have not abandoned their children. For this uplifting
tome, which includes contributions by rapper Talib Kweli, writer Bakari Kitwana
and filmmaker Byron Hunt, offers a heartening mix of poetry, prose and pictures
designed to reassure skeptics about the prospects of the black family.
7. The Naked Truth: Young Beautiful and (HIV) Positive by
This bittersweet biography chronicles
the author’s evolution from being diagnosed HIV+ to feeling desperate,
frightened and abandoned to blossoming into a fearless AIDS activist. Now 24,
this brave young lady deserves considerable credit for going public and thus
putting a face on a still generally hidden and denied disease at a time when
African-Americans account for the majority of new infections in the United States.
8. The Race Card: How
Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse by Richard Thompson Ford
Was it fair for Michael Jackson to turn
himself white only to reclaim his blackness when he wanted to sue his record
company? According to Richard Thompson Ford, many well-off African-Americans are
more than willing to make inappropriate accusations of prejudice for purely
The author concludes that such opportunists
who resort to the tactic of playing the race card “are the enemies of truth,
social harmony, and social justice.” His solution? “For all decent and honest
people” to join in condemning any such perpetrators. Certainly, food for
thought in what has recently been dubbed “post-racial” America.
9. Letters to a Young Sister: Define
Your Destiny by Hill Harper
Actor Hill Harper
received nothing but positive feedback a
couple of years ago upon
the release of Letters to a Young Brother, his inspirational how-to book for African-American
males. Its uplifting message emphasized the value of a good education over the
accumulation of material possessions while also stressing the importance of
being the architect of your own life.
So, it is only fitting that he would
choose to write a companion text for black females with the help such luminaries
as Michelle Obama, Angela Bassett, Ruby Dee, Nikki Giovanni and Sanaa Lathan.
This invaluable tome addresses a litany of concerns occupying the inquiring minds
of impressionable girls still in their formative years. Overall, an uplifting collection of sage insights aimed at instilling
self-confidence, self-respect and self-reliance.
10. Sweet Release: The Last Step to Black Freedom by Dr. James
Is it detrimental
for African-Americans to continue to think of their struggle for advancement as
a collective as opposed to a solitary enterprise? This is the controversial
contention put forward by Dr. Davison, a
psychologist in private practice in California.
He believes that those black folks still viewing reality through a pre-Civil
Rights Era prism are only standing in the way of their own freedom.
According to the author, the key rests in African-Americans breaking the psychological bonds to their
racial past by asserting their individuality, a step which he claims “has
little to do with racism, prejudice, or discrimination.” A bitter pill to
swallow, but so shockingly confrontational that its prescription for black
sanity is a must read, despite the doctor’s apparent right-wing political
about the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can’t Save Black America by John
Obama: Making History, edited by Tanya Ishikawa
- The Chronicles of a Gentleman (The
Untold Truth) by Leroy Sanders
I 366th Infantry by Harold E. Russell, Jr.
to Build a Million Dollar Business by Richelle Shaw
as a Single Mom by Stephanie M. Clark
Is a Game by Jim Copeland
True Soul: Exploited, Apprehended & Broken Within by Shawna M.
Black People Can't Lose Weight by Makeisha Lee
African-Americans Can't Get Ahead by Gwen Richardson
- 25 Things That Really Matter in Life: A Comprehensive Guide
to Making Your Life Better by Gary A. Johnson
Black Book of 2008
A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited about
Obama and Why He Can’t Win by Shelby Steele
title says it all. Black conservative Shelby Steele took a calculated risk in
publishing a book predicting Obama wouldn’t win. Oops. A bigger blunder than
the Chicago Tribune’s “Dewey Elected’ headline prematurely announcing the demise
of Harry Truman in 1948. Probably already out-of-print.