Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Review: Deconstructing Tyrone by Natalie Hopkinson and Natalie Y. Moore

Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Cleis Press
Pages: 246

In Deconstructing Tyrone, two black journalists examine black masculinity in the hip-hop generation from a variety of perspectives. With chapters on black men in politics (Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick), on the relationship between the misogynist hip-hop culture and women, on how gay men fit into the black masculinity picture, on babydaddies, on gay black men on the “down low,” and black men in the office, at school, and in jail, this book presents a multifaceted picture of American black men today.

I confess I know little about the black experience today, and I found this book to be both illuminating and inspiring. These two writers examine a complex subject with empathy, wit, and acute intelligence.  They attempt to break down the myths presented in the media surrounding black masculinity, with a focus on how it effects black males, hip-hop culture, and the relationships between black men and women. I was particularly interested in how gay black men fit into this culture, and I found that fascinating, yet that is only a small part of an intricate puzzle.

This book goes beyond scrutinizing a snapshot of today’s black culture. It makes an honest attempt to understand where black masculinity as it relates to black women will evolve to in the near future.

Thoughtful and absorbing, I can highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a greater understanding of American black culture, and what directions that culture is moving.

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