From Atlanta Tribune columnist Cleage, essays that treat sex and politics from an African-American feminist perspective and that are--with minor exceptions--powerful, outspoken, and fluent. Ranging from the hortatory to the reflective, the 36 pieces here make take a principled stand on contemporary issues. In the opening ``Why I Write,'' Cleage announces: ``I am writing to help myself understand the full effects of being black and female in a culture that is both racist and sexist.'' And in succeeding pieces, as she tackles events in Atlanta and elsewhere, she also helps readers understand. In ``The Other Facts of Life,'' ``Mad at Miles,'' ``Good Brother Blues,'' and ``Basic Training,'' Cleage describes and analyzes horrifying instances of black men beating, raping, and murdering black women, and she bravely exhorts her ``sisters'' to reject all excuses for violence, along with the violence itself. In essays such as ``On Redbones'' and ``Fatal Floozies,'' the author brings to bear beautiful memories of her childhood among strong, well-educated black women and men on controversies over skin tones and sexpots; in ``Forgetting to Fuss,'' she compares her reluctant enthusiasm for Bill Clinton with her parents' subdued hopes for JFK (``At our house the much ballyhooed beauty of the new First Lady was greeted with a contemptuous snort...''). Elsewhere, she delineates always thoughtful views of Clarence Thomas (``He is an enemy of our race in particular and of people in general''); Anita Hill (``There is no such thing as a reluctant African-American woman warrior''); and Spike Lee (``His characters are the men we see all the time...the ones who are angry and don't know why'')--as well as Julian Bond, Bret Easton Ellis, Marion Barry, and the film Driving Miss Daisy. A few pieces are disappointingly slight, and two or three may resemble manifestos more than polished essays, but, as a whole, a fresh, gripping, and sane collection.