he talk like a white boy by Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips wrote an article in 1991 or so in Essence magazine (back when it was readable – sorta) about the death of his mother. She had committed suicide when he was young and undoubtedly had left a scar on his life. The piece really touched me because of the vivid detail with which he reflected the loss, and the process of his coming to what was as close to resolution as one can get to a parental suicide.
Once I finished the article and reflected a little more, something struck me as familiar about the name of the author. Then I remembered that when Lisa Bonet was on the Cosby show, this man played her husband. He was also in Strictly Business and a couple of other movies, too. I remembered thinking that he was a good writer.
Fast forward about fifteen years and here we are with He Talk Like A White Boy:Reflections on Faith, Family, Politics and Authenticity. The book contains material from writings including his column, which has been published for the past three years. He talks about everything from his weight gain (and loss) to his acting career and the ups and downs of his ten plus year marriage, the importance of men in the lives of boys, and the difficulties of being a conservative black american in our current political climate. The writings I liked best were about his wedding day and his first trip to Africa. He describes the greatness of the experience, and also discusses his feelings concerning Africa’s role in the slave trade, both as victim and oppressor.
The writings I liked least seem to bash away at liberal people and the things they strive for in government, while at the same time lifting conservatives on the pedestal that has to have been created for effect. Although I am good for a critique on liberal thought and its sometimes blind acceptance in the larger black community, a couple of times I had to think to myself, are these AMERICAN conservatives he’s talking about because I simply did not recognize them. He managed to come to the defense of Ward Connerly, the guy who helped California become a pariah among a lot of black young scholars. I understand the rhetoric of equality and true merit, but this guy is funded by people who seek to (and this is putting it VERY mildly) slow the progress of nonwhites in our nation.
I’m not a red republican or a blue dog democrat, but this book reminded me that behind all of the abusive rhetoric that flies around concerning the state of our government, lies a lot of people who have more in common than the things they allow to divide them. I liked the book. It makes for a good discussion among democrats, republicans, both and neither. Not quite a must read, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

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