Fortunately, only a few of the writers in this otherwise fine collection of essays pay attention to the self-important title they are asked to labor under, before going off on their own riffs. George Curry, of Emerge magazine, does a serviceable job with the difficult topic of the new technology and its application to blacks. Former US surgeon general Joycelyn Elders comes off as polished, knowledgeable, and acutely aware of the mental and physical state of black America. Spike Lee is Spike Lee, and the same might be said of Stanley Crouch, except here Crouch, praised most often for his ad hominem truculence, appears witty and perhaps even wise addressing an assortment of subjects from the bad manners of some rap singers to the grace and wisdom of Ralph Ellison. Others of the 13 in this collection who shine include Randall Robinson on foreign affairs and Walter Mosley, who continues to demonstrate with each new publication that there is more to him than Easy Rawlins mysteries. Having said that, it should also be pointed out that the whole notion of putting these very different writers and thinkers together under one roof was conceived by Mosley and sponsored by New York University (where his co-editors, Manthia Diawara and Clyde Taylor, teach in the African Studies Program). Mosley, who also wrote the introduction, says, the idea behind it was “to present the stories of women and men who had made it in spite of the system, those who had transcended the limitations of blind faith while at the same time refusing to accept the cynicism of racc.” Whatever. Some of the writers themselves have difficulty with the expressed purpose of the title but don’t bother to wrestle with it; they just say what they have to say. Mostly a good showing by one and all.