cover image What's Going on: Personal Essays

What's Going on: Personal Essays

Nathan McCall / Author Random House (NY) $21 (217p) ISBN 978-0

McCall (Makes Me Wanna Holler) here offers essays on contemporary racial issues, warning at the outset about ""the incompetence of white leadership"" and blacks' failure to respond when ""we're victimized by one another."" In conversational tone, he starts with hard-hitting pieces on how basketball mythology warps both black and white America's view of black men and how the black community must confront gangsta rap, which he sees as a product of what a friend of his terms ""internalized oppression and pathology"" and a testament to a highly violent world. Then the momentum slows. Some essays seem reworked feature stories--reports on the attempt of Alexandria, Va., to move out poor people and the conflicts among middle-class blacks living in Prince George County, Md. McCall offers vignettes of interaction with whites: a baby free of race fear, an elevator ride full of it. He closes with pieces on Muhammad Ali, the failures of the white Christian church and a moving piece on the death of a former ""homeboy,"" a criminal mourned by his victim's mother, a black woman with ""unflagging belief in redemption."" Author tour. (Oct.)