A Familiar Story with Mass Exposure
“Hold on. You haven’t heard of M.K. Asante?” This was said to me by a dear friend of mine. She was shocked considering deep my infatuation with pop culture in the lives of people. (Heck, I studied this in seminary!) “You HAVE to read his book Buck! It’s amazing.” She whispered this to me as author, rapper, film director and university professor, M.K. Asante was walking towards the glass encased room we were sitting in. Asante walks in, with a copy of Buck in hand. We exchanged pleasantries and began to chat about how our workshops went. Much of it was for Asante to get a feel for the audience that he was about to address as the keynote speaker. I, like many geeks/nerds, IMMEDIATELY pulled out my iPhone and searched his bio. Not much information was given. However, as Asante began to speak, and read excerpts of the text, I knew this was a must read. It’s a memoir of his life as a kid from North Philly. It’s gritty (strip clubs, drug dealing, violence), in some parts touching and emotional (abandonment, young love, death) in other parts. It’s a tale of one young man’s discovery of his calling. It’s reminiscent of the story of many young Black men who grew up in circumstances like his and “make it” because they found their calling.
Asante speaks about the struggles he had in his relationships with his mother, father, brother and sister. The portions of the text that are really insightful are the inclusion of his mother’s diary entries and written letters from his siblings. They are raw, and full of emotion. Asante’s literary approach leads the reader to feel as if they are present, like a fly on the wall, as opposed to a spectator, watching a biopic.
On my rating system (World Champion – Jobber) I give this book the Intercontinental Championship. It’s a great book that ought to be required reading by students in the public school system (as opposed to The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck). It’s relatable to any kid who grows up in the city; either first hand or second hand. It’s relevant to the yuppies who want to “save the lives of at-risk youth” (i.e… Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers, or 1990s “Make-a-difference” Fatu & Guardian Angel Boss Man), and hipsters who want an “authentic inner city living experience” despite sticking out like sore thumbs.