An African-American man shares his evolution from drug dealer to college-graduate professional, social analysis, and empowerment tips in this debut motivational memoir.
Barlow describes his narrative, aimed particularly at minority youth, as a “semi- autobiographical/motivational book based on the premise that no one is born a failure…period.” Instead, “minorities must contend with a plethora of obstacles which are mainly a result of the disparate treatment they have endured for generations.” After providing supporting statistics, Barlow segues into his life story. Born in Harlem in 1971, he was abandoned by his mother at an early age and primarily raised by his father and grandmother. His father encouraged him to be a critical thinker and held a regular job, but had money-management issues, having “been a hustler for most of his life…used to fast money.” At age 13, Barlow became a drug dealer’s lookout and then a pusher himself, dropping out of high school at 16. At 18, after almost getting arrested a second time, which would have meant significant jail time, Barlow moved back with his grandmother, finished high school at night while working regular jobs, and then attended and graduated from college. Now “a senior legal assistant, easily grossing six figures,” Barlow is proud that “my relationship with my daughters is the testament of a misguided teenager who evolved into a well-rounded man and exemplary father.” Close to this volume’s midpoint, the author offers his “blueprint for success,” focused on how to become an “intellectual gangsta” (with a helpful reading list provided) and concluding with social and racial commentary. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is No. 1 on the reading list, and this book has a similar intensity and advocacy. Barlow’s recollections of his days as a dealer are particularly evocative, even shocking, with the author at one point noting that he worked the same hallway with several other pushers because “there were so many customers that we still made money.” In his social criticism, Barlow addresses government involvement in the Flint, Michigan, water crisis: “The residents of Flint, Michigan, the majority of whom are black and impoverished, were knowingly allowed to drink and bathe in water contaminated with lead.”
An impassioned, inspiring motivational manifesto.