THE SLICK BOYS

A TEN-POINT PLAN TO RESCUE YOUR COMMUNITY BY THREE CHICAGO COPS WHO ARE MAKING IT HAPPEN

A sobering yet uplifting look at life in the Chicago projects, written by three who escaped it: Eric Davis, James Martin, and Randy Holcomb. They are the Slick Boys, three plainclothes cops from Chicago who grew up in notorious projects like Cabrini Green, Rockwell Gardens, and Ida B. Welts. Such addresses often prove fatal to young black men in the city of big shoulders, but these three, friends since childhood, formed a rap group whose songs celebrated survival and religion. Their music gained popularity around the city, and all three became police officers—in a town not known for its kindness to minorities—and continue to visit the city’s project to spread their message. Their grim life stories, which open the book, manage to avoid treacly sentiment. Their families share common tales of death, abandonment, and addiction, but these woes only inspire them to help others. In this book, the three introduce a simple guide for cities to adopt in order to arrest violence at its root, with police officers used as a bridge between a civil society and communities at risk. Written with the help of People magazine staffer Luchina Fisher, the language in the book is fairly straightforward and slangy throughout, but the ideas are deceptively simple. The authors— rules are refreshingly phrased: “Lead by Example” and “Be a Ray of Hope” sound like snake-oil clichÇs, but here these notions come alive with ideas about good parenting, good citizenship, and optimism. Their enthusiasm is infectious. While they don’t offer solutions to huge issues like racism and poverty, the Slick Boys present an attitude that is both reasonable (“Don’t play to the stereotypes”) and intelligent (“You’re a slave if you’re not educated”). A wise and believable mandate for surviving an inner-city childhood.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-684-83300-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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