TESTIMONY by Natasha Tarpley


Young African-Americans on Self-Discovery and Black Identity
edited by
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 A spirited collection of more than 50 short writings by African-American college students. The strength of this distinct collection, edited by essayist, poet, and law student Tarpley, lies in the variety of voices presented. In essays, fiction, and poetry, young African-Americans grapple with a wide gamut of issues ranging from growing up gay in a racist, homophobic society to attempting to resolve the tensions within their own communities. The most effective writings are those that don't usually make their way into the mainstream press. In ``Pimp 4 Life,'' San Francisco State University film student Lichelli Lazar-Lea writes graphically about the misogyny she faces as an active member of the Bay Area Hip Hop community. She ends by urging her sisters to value themselves enough to stop competing with one another over men who disdain them. ``We are treating brothers like boys if we allow them to disrespect us, and they are definitely not boys, even though racist society teaches them that they are.'' In another rarely aired issue, Sarah Van't Hul describes growing us as an adopted black child in a white family in Ann Arbor, Mich. She experienced sometimes cruel rejection from blacks and whites; she shares unusual insights about both worlds and condemns the Black Social Workers Association for depriving many children of loving homes in advocating that whites no longer be allowed to adopt black children. UCLA graduate student Michael Datcher writes movingly about ``his'' L.A. and the police brutality that he and other blacks have known for too long. In this, as in other pieces, the chasm between white and black sensibilities is disturbingly apparent. Most of the voices are fresh and authentic- -so much so that a glossary of slang would have helped readers appreciate the rap-related pieces. Some of the essays verge on polemics, and not all of the poems are accessible, but this book is a valuable eye-opener for anyone who wants to know ``what time it is.''

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8070-0928-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994