In this open love letter to black women everywhere, Michael Eric Dyson celebrates the strength and beauty of African-American women. From Miss James, his grammar school teacher, to Linda Johnson Rice, who heads the communications empire that publishes Ebony and Jet; from Toni Morrison, whose novels inspired him, as a young welfare dad, to Debbie Bethea, the housecleaner whose labors remind him of his mother in Detroit; from civil rights widow Myrlie Evers-Williams to activist and scholar Angela Davis-and many more-the women in Dyson's pantheon inspire us to remember, "When we love black women, we love ourselves, and the God who made us."
With his Open Mike: Reflections of Philosophy, Race, Sex, Culture and Religion published by Basic just 60 days prior to this title, Dyson-University of Pennsylvania professor and the author of sensitive and determined polemics covering the legacy of Martin Luther King (I May Not Get There with You), the murder of Tupac Shakur (Holler if You Hear Me) and the political and cultural impact of Malcolm X (Making Malcolm)-is on a roll. This book, mostly set amid Dyson's barnstorming of the lecture circuit, records his meetings and discussions with black women throughout his life, and takes stock, from a highly partisan perspective, of their recent accomplishments. Dyson's descriptions of the women he meets are nearly novelistic: "I can still see her face: a honey chocolate, pie-shaped visage silhouetted by a shock of dark curls and lit by bright eyes that were lanterns of learning through which her students illuminated the first time to dark corners of black history," he writes of his fifth grade teacher in the book's opening sentence. But he goes on to give astute accounts, peppered with dialogue and compelling historical digressions, of the binds facing successful black women, who have to contend with racism in the workplace and the threat they represent to black men still struggling to find their own collective professional identities. He details his youthful fascination with Angela Davis (whom he later meets) and his admiration for "brave black revolutionary" Assata Shakur. He delves into the life and work of Susan Taylor, "In the Spirit" columnist for Essence magazine, and many others, including his wife, ordained minister Marcia Dyson. The author sneaks a remarkable amount of history and political content into this energetic, clearly voiced title. It should attract a diverse audience, from self-help to cultural studies readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Basic Civitas Books
January 05, 2004
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