In spite of the assertions of Julius Lester's rather tendentious introductory attack on the ""great man"" approach to history -- ""We have been educated into believing that our lives do not matter... We never have the opportunity to learn and to know what we are,"" -- the voices which speak here certainly reflect a strong if groping sense of serf-awareness. Anger, pain and a determined affirmation of individuality are common currents which run through the testaments of all the young black people represented here, whether they are talented professional authors or semi-illiterates. Internally, there is a world of difference in sophistication between Nikki Giovanni (""and dealing with Blackness as a cultural entity can only, in any logical manner, lead to revolution"") and the 18-year-old who says, ""and I know that's what Black Power mean, just to have some money and be somebody."" The essays graphically depict the experiences of growing up in a hostile world -- scenes of rape, unresponsive teachers, desperate parents. Though understandably lacking in perspective, these cries of anguish ate raw and unretouched. Some will find them too controversial, all will find them upsetting, but more mature readers will find them empathic and instructive social documents.