An African-American lecturer and commentator demands a more balanced portrayal of black men. An earlier self-published...

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THE ASSASSINATION OF THE BLACK MALE IMAGE

An African-American lecturer and commentator demands a more balanced portrayal of black men. An earlier self-published version of this book by Hutchinson, who commented on the O.J. Simpson trial for CBS News, sold 30,000 copies, perhaps accounting for this breakthrough into a major publishing house (his previous books came out from small presses). But the first few chapters, each of which is really an independent essay, offer few clues to the volume's popularity. In a style reminiscent of the same Rush Limbaugh patter that he trashes in one of his essays, Hutchinson rails and hectors, ignores sources that do not support his theories, and interjects snide italicized asides. There is, however, a powerful cumulative effect to Hutchinson's writing that makes his central thesis difficult to dismiss. He argues that the overwhelming mass media image of black men is of evil incarnate, and that Americans--including many black women--are ready to pounce any time a black man slips up, from O.J. Simpson to Michael Jackson to Clarence Thomas to Louis Farrakhan. The vast majority of black men, who do not deal drugs, beat women, abandon their families, or evade employment, are virtually ignored. The scapegoating of black men for society's ills lets the government off the hook for economic policies destructive of blue-collar jobs; it also leads to disproportionate punishment of black lawbreakers, distorts public policy, deepens racial divides, and worst of all, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Americans think that all black men are stupid, he writes, ""there's no need to build more schools."" If all black men are seen as lazy, ""there's no need to spend more on job and skills training and entrepreneurial programs."" Hutchinson demands that black men be transformed from the ""universal bogeyman"" to ""human beings."" His case is sometimes overstated but cannot easily be overlooked.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0684836572

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996