I enjoy biographies and memoirs, but I don't read tons of them. The last memoir-ish book that I read was Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and it was an amazingly poignant and timely book. It's something that I think that everyone who has an interest in getting a glimpse into what African American men have to think through when traversing our greatly flawed and dangerous world should read. When I saw today's feature I knew that it is yet another book that will hopefully contribute to the overall dialogue and understanding of the experiences of the very people who are targeted because of the color of their skin.
I truly hope that books like these are connected to the Black Lives Matter movement in a way that will help to support and boost those who are out doing the work on the ground. Righteous anger and justified indignation manifests in many different ways. My hope is that there will be many more quality books from new voices on the horizon. When a marginalized and systematically subjugated group of people have had enough and begin to demand their due respect as human beings, it doesn't mean that they are wanting 'special' treatment it means that they are demanding equal treatment. Historically, black lives have not been valued and protected in the same way that other lives have. That's a fact, not an opinion. I didn't mean for this to turn into a soap box moment, so I'll just hop on down and give the book synopsis now!
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching is an account of how, politically and culturally, the existing script for black manhood has been rewritten for the millennial generation. Young men of this age have watched as Barack Obama was elected president but have also witnessed the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, and so many other young black men killed by police or vigilante violence. Chronicling his personal and political education during these tumultuous years, Smith narrates his own coming-of-age story and his struggles to come into his own at a time when too many black men do not survive into adulthood.
From Barack Obama’s landmark speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 to the recent and widely reported cases of violence against women, from powerful moments of black self-determination like LeBron James’ “decision” to the mobilization of thousands of young black men in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching documents of how these public milestones have challenged cultural notions of black manhood. Part memoir, part political tract, this book is an unprecedented and intimate glimpse into what it means to be young, black, and male in America today—and what it means to be treated as a human in a society dependent on your subjugation.