Dollars Make Sense.

Black History Most Def Reads.

Posted in reads. by Jason Mekkam on February 1, 2014

leon-levinstein

Photo Credit: Leon Levinstein

Today marks the first day of Black History Month – also known as the one month back in high school that I really knew I was black..

And so did my teachers..

And so did my classmates..

‘What’s the name of the black man who invented peanuts again…?’ Ooohh Ooohh the colored boy.. in the corner.. with the hat.. look on his paper.. I’m sure he knows..’

For giggles and subsequent shits I thought I’d go ahead and offer some suggested reading for those who desire to increase their knowledge of Black History beyond being able to readily distinguish between pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz is the one with the glasses.. obvi).

Below are a couple of my favorite books (that I’ve actually read I might add) in no particular order pertaining to matters of Blackness.. whatever that means.

And please please please don’t get it twisted.. Black History = American History.

Fact.

For the record, when push comes to shove I’m very very much on Team Morgan Freeman regarding the necessity of Black History Month’s very existence. But racism still exists because I see it. Everyday. And the only way to defeat stupid is with smarts.

So read up boys and girls.

Let the recommendations begin..

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told To Alex Haley by Malcolm X & Alex Haley

What I found most remarkable about Malcolm X’s story was environment of hate that surrounded him and his reaction to it. Like I remember the first time I read his biography, there was this part whereby a young Malcolm was scoffed at by his teacher when he told him he wanted to be a lawyer.

Law School wasn’t “a realistic goal for a nigger” the teacher said.

Mothafucka say whaaa?

Like the white teacher man said that yo.. like to lil homie’s face. Like I can’t even imagine the psychological devastation. Yet at the same time he encouraged Malcolm’s classmates (whom the little Little had far higher marks then I might add) to pursue careers in medicine, politics and basically any and every career status/upward mobility provides.

The insanity of it all.

Rather than fuel Black Genius the clear aim back in that day was to extinguish it. But that’s the thing about genius. You can’t get rid of it. It always finds a way to make itself apparent. So it could be argued that denied the opportunity to excel in other fields, he naturally gravitated to the only arenas his blackness would permit. First through becoming a criminal and then by becoming the face of The Nation of Islam.

Now I’m not supporting his actions, or the rhetoric or even some of his more radical views that he espoused back at the pinnacle of his notoriety. I’ve grown and I think that tolerance and love always win. In fact, after his pilgrimage to Mecca, I think even he a started to feel this way too. This book is important because at it’s heart it is a story about a man, his transformation and him trying to make sense of it all.

And yo isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

Nigger by Dick Gregory

My favorite book ever. Also the funniest I’ve ever read. Similar to Malcolm X’s biography it tells the tale of Dick Gregory who too grew from Jim Crow poverty into being an internationally renowned figure. But Gregory’s reaction to hate was much different. Rather than combat hate with hate, he fought hate with wit and humor. His observations on life and his ability to adapt made him the comic that he was but his desire to constantly want better carried him through all the adversity that was thrown at him.

A People’s History of The United States by Howard Zinn/Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen

Two alternate history books offer super much more eye-opening (and accurate) portrayals of black life in America. Both are beyond incredible. Loewen’s book takes a far more sociological approach to tackling the matter and explaining why history is taught the way it in while Zinn’s is much less abrasive. Still both woke me up/shook the shit out of me. As they will you..

Slavery By Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon

Neo-Slavery.

Please please please look it up.

This book tripped me out like you won’t believe. I think it just highlighted the complete and utter failure of Reconstruction not to mention America’s nasty addiction on cheap labor.

Yo like straight up it almost reminds me of many of American’s current economic situations.. Being accused of something.. Being held against something.. being forced to pay back for something you’re not even sure that you did.

*Hint Hint/Wink Wink*

Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama

In ten years this book will be required reading for every kid in America if it isn’t already. Like I’m not going to lie I teared up a little when I read this. The American Dream at its essence.

Author’s Note: Again I can’t reiterate enough that these recommendations aren’t even the end all be all to knowledge. I am not an expert nor do I claim to be. Rather my aim is to steer those who seek greater knowledge in the right direction. So what little I know I share.

You know..

Just a little something something to get the tip wet before sticking it in.

Cheers.

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