WHITE BUCKS AND BLACK-EYED PEAS: Coming of Age Black in White America by Marcus Mabry

WHITE BUCKS AND BLACK-EYED PEAS: Coming of Age Black in White America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another entry in what will no doubt be a long series of autobiographies by post--baby boom African-Americans helps place a new generation of memoirists on solid ground. Any account of growing up black in the United States risks falling into a predictable pathos involving such over-familiar components as the strong and loving mother shepherding her children in a racist world; the poor but proud grandparent dispensing wisdom and wit; the rude awakening into race consciousness; the white friends who see beyond race to the humanity within. Mabry's book has its fair share of these elements, and he lapses unblinkingly at times into crude, hackneyed statements about ""surviving life as black men."" He also seems overly enamored with his own life. But he rescues his narrative from these problems with his unflinching depiction of experiences that brought great pain, such as the sometimes violent encounters between his mother and the other members of her large family when he was a child, or his troubled relationship with his neglectful father, a hugely successful lawyer who offered Mabry no support, financial or otherwise. Mabry recounts these scenes with ungarnished honesty, revealing his worst scars with courage and wisdom. Even more affecting is the portrait of his adult life after graduating from Stanford and going to work for Newsweek. In this section, the author's reflections and analyses seem more natural, as does his prose. Mabry makes impassioned and cogent observations about the stigma of affirmative action, the wearying but necessary role of being a black ""missionary"" educating whites about racism, and the grueling double bind of successful blacks, who must display both community consciousness and individualism. Touching, lyrical, and often humorous.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Scribner