Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Black Print by Malik Green

178 pages
Published 2009
Outskirts Press, Inc.
Denver, CO

A few months back I was approached by a publicity company who wanted to know if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing copies of newly released books. Although it doesn't appear they handle ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) I still thought this was a great opportunity and signed up.

The first book that caught my attention was The Black-Print by Malik Green. I actually read this book in November, but it has taken me some time to sit down and work out my thoughts to the point where I could put them into a review.

The Black-Print is Mr. Green's first published work and what he calls a "plan of action."

What it's all about:
"African Americans are the descendants of a great and mighty people. However, today, despite over 50 years of so-called progress, the African-American community faces a host of maladies that contribute to our continued disenfranchisement. With an increase in black-on-black crime, drug abuse, gang-related violence, illiteracy, and a lack of spiritual development, not to mention our economic and political deficiencies, African Americans are struggling to gain true equality, prosperity, and respect here in America. The Black-Print contains bold and radical solutions -- a solid, detailed plan -- to transform the descendants of African slaves and raise them to a level unprecedented in the United States of America. This book gets to the heart of the many problems and obstacles faced by the African American community and presents an opportunity to over come the destructive forces that continue to block our path towards wealth, prosperity and respect." (Summary courtesy of the author)

My Thoughts:
Initially I was quite excited to read The Black-Print from the back cover description (see above) I had a feeling this book might be something along the lines of the ideology that great African Americans like George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington shared, but as I read my excitement gradually dwindled until at the end of the book I was left feeling somewhat disappointed and annoyed.

What I liked: For starters, Mr. Green has some great ideas and as a born African-American from Harlem he has inside perspective. On page 120 he sums up his concerns in the statement, "The bottom line here is that if African Americans do not find the will or desire to reunite as family, then no plan, no money, no anything will ever get us truly right as a people." Similarly there are several other memorable passages and quotes scattered throughout the book. I believe Mr. Green has caught the spark of a great idea. It is true the African American community within the United States is not where it could be or should be 140+ years after the end of slavery. For years people have believed something was being done through the various government programs, but in reality nothing effective has been done. It's time something more, something other than the status quo is started on behalf of United States citizens be they black, white or otherwise. Unfortunately this is where I found The Black-Print fell short of its goal. Which leads me to what I didn't like about the book.

What I didn't like: Aside from the fact that I disagreed with most of Mr. Green's political and economic views I also found his book poorly sourced and in desperate need of editing. (Note: I researched the publisher only to discover OutskirtsPress is a company that offers budding authors the opportunity to self-publish, sans an editor.) From the first chapter it is clear that The Black-Print reads more like a lengthy op-ed than it does a professional or academic "How-To" piece of non-fiction. Instead of backing up statements and facts with original sources nearly all of the writing is merely stated and the reader left to believe or not believe depending on their view of the text, opinions, and author. The few times that footnotes were included they led only to Wikipedia articles, which any researcher or writer should know know is not a trustworthy source.

Editing aside, there's then the problem of Mr. Green's plan of action. As I said, there were many of Mr. Green's views and opinions that I do not personally share, but this is not the time or place for me to hash out in detail what our differences are. Suffice it for me to state two things. First, that I believe there is one true God and that all men (and women) are created equal. The very idea of racial inequality stems from people forgetting or not believing that we all are children born from the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, we are all created by God. And second, in my opinion The Black-Print calls for some drastic and rather unrealistic steps in order to reach Mr. Green's final goal including the involvement of the government where I do not believe it is wise.

One such unrealistic step requires the United States government to pay "reparations" to the African American community for the years of damage done between 1868 and 1964. The United States government is not a private entity; it is not a business so where would such a large sum of money come from? It has to come from somewhere and mostly likely it would come in the form of heavier taxes on people who either were not alive during those years or who were not citizens in America during that time.

As I read I kept shaking my head thinking how different Mr. Green's views were from what I had anticipated them to be. So very unlike those of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, two men whom I greatly admire. And then as I read I came upon the reason for this difference. Mr. Green admittedly holds the same views as W. E. B. Dubois. For those who don't remember, W. E. B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington were peers who held opposing views as to what African Americans should do once freedom from slavery was achieved. Booker T. Washington was of the mindset that African Americans needed to focus on educating and bettering themselves as individuals, as families, as church members, and as citizens before reaching for riches and fame. Dubois on the other hand believed that the African Americans deserved instant equality with all other citizens of the United States without the necessity of education and hard work. The fact that Mr. Green's ideology matches with Dubois explains a lot.

In Summary:
I had mixed feelings when I finished reading The Black-Print. I felt like Mr. Green touched upon a very important matter and had some great insights, but his application was all wrong, his solution flawed. I felt as if this was a missed opportunity and it is a shame. I can't say I'd recommend this book to others only because there was so much this book lacked. However, I applaud Mr. Green for his effort in writing this book. Many people have ideas, but it takes some determination and courage to share these ideas with the world. Maybe one day people will realize that God has to come first, not just the "everything goes" view of religion that Mr. Green shares. There must be a love for God and respect for each other before there can be healing.

Other books of interest that I've read:

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
Unshakable Faith by John Perry

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