Black on Black On our resilience and brilliance in America

Daniel Black

Book - 2023

Now, in his debut essay collection, Daniel Black gives voice to the experiences of those who often find themselves on the margins. Tackling topics ranging from police brutality to the AIDS crisis to the role of HBCUs to queer representation in the Black church, Black celebrates the resilience, fortitude and survival of Black people in a land where their body is always on display.

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2nd Floor 305.896/Black Checked In
Toronto, Ontario : Hanover Square Press [2023]
Main Author
Daniel Black (author)
Physical Description
256 pages ; 22 cm
  • Introduction
  • Reasons I Write
  • When I Was a Boy
  • The Trial and Massacre of the Black Body
  • Prayer Won't Fix This: What to Do with the Black Church
  • Black, But Not Beautiful: An Aesthetic Dilemma
  • When WE See Us
  • Dying to Be Loved
  • The Beauty and Struggles of HBCUs
  • Nowhere to Hide (or The Dream of the Closet)
  • Integration: A Failed Experiment
  • Massa, Don't Leave Me!
  • Harriet's Chariot
  • The Power of POSE
Review by Booklist Review

Black, a professor of African American studies and novelist, presents a collection of penetrating essays on the spiritual and emotional state of twenty-first-century Black America. Unstinting in his critique of America's persistent racism, Black also has plenty to say about the fault lines in the Black community, especially around gender and sexuality. He is scathing in his excoriation of homophobia and misogyny in the Black church and how this bulwark of support and unconditional Black love has turned against vulnerable LGBTQ people. Black connects queer self-hatred nourished in African American institutions to the persistence of AIDS and HIV in the community. Black self-hatred is also reflected in the worship of white beauty standards, self-abasement in music videos, and the failures of integration. Black points out that African Americans did not originally long to join white institutions, they "simply hoped to be treated equally and fairly under the law. . . They wanted the ability to walk the streets at night without being lynched." Instead, the push towards integration led to a devaluing of Black schools, neighborhoods, and businesses. Passionate and provocative.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Novelist Black (Don't Cry for Me) mixes memoir, history, and cultural criticism in these powerful essays on the experiences of being a queer Black person in America. In "When I Was a Boy," Black recalls how he succumbed to the pressure he felt growing up in rural Arkansas to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity ("I soon learned that people wanted unenlightened black boys.... Half-drunk, baby-producing black boys"), until he went to college and "life-changing books found me and restored my senses." Elsewhere, Black analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the Black church, claiming that its historical role providing "poor, disenfranchised black people imaginative context wherein to construct identity and communal value" is undercut by its "ubiquitous patriarchy," antagonism toward Africanist traditions, and insistence that Black people be "'presentable' before white eyes." Other topics include the effects of white supremacy on self-image; the "historical significance" of the TV show Pose; the "life-altering" experience of attending an HBCU, where many students encounter for the first time "the assumption of their intelligence"; and how James Baldwin became "caught in an interstitial space between black rejection and white objectification." Intimate, wide-ranging, and sharply argued, this is an inspirational call for a more inclusive vision of Black community. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Winner of the Distinguished Writer Award from the Middle-Atlantic Writer's Association, novelist and cultural critic Black (Don't Cry for Me) offers a debut essay collection examining issues that range from police brutality to the role of queer representation in the Black church. Along the way, he celebrates the strength of Black Americans--and indeed anyone on the margins--and the ongoing struggle for fairness and equality. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A novelist and scholar explores a variety of aspects of Blackness in modern America. Black, a professor of African American studies at Clark Atlanta University, begins the book with "A Sermon," which lists a series of reasons why he writes, including the erasure of queer Black love and the devaluing of Black beauty and culture. "I want Blackness to bloom all over this land to mend what whiteness has broken," he writes in a forceful statement of purpose. "I want people to love the stranger, honor the ex-con, respect the sex worker. To assume their humanity regardless of their appearance or station. To know that every life is worth its breath. We all are. But sometimes we're not so sure. So, for those in-between times, I write….Until we discover that as long as there are books, there is everlasting life! This is why I write." The author examines the problem of patriarchy in the Black church and advocates for a new, revised Bible that celebrates Black divinity. He also questions the utility of integration, claiming that many "elders" regret how desegregation led to the breakdown of institutions like Black-run schools and businesses, which nurtured and celebrated Black excellence and success. Some of the most powerful essays feature Black's personal experiences. For example, in one piece, the author writes about a professor in his undergraduate program who pushed him to do academic work that he never dreamed he could do--and to hold himself to high standards that have served him throughout his academic career. In another piece, he describes his grandmother's subtle support of his queerness despite the danger this could have posed to both of them. Not all of the pieces are as potent, but overall, the author's passionate prose reflects his unique, thought-provoking perspective. An innovative, lyrical take on the queer Black experience. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.