My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I was a young man in my early teens, I encountered this text as one of the first reads that my mother allowed me to pull from the shelves of African American literature at some local Waldenbooks or Barnes and Noble. It remains my favorite collection of essays for both nostalgia’s sake along with how well it lent itself as the basis for a great deal of my early opinions and philosophical investigation. Wiley struck me as the curious and opinionated sort which are not bad qualities for a journalist and sportswriter. This is the sort of thing that was necessary for me who had spent much of his time seated in the company of more adults than children offering my views on current events.
As I review the text again with new eyes as I find myself doing with all previously studied works, there is much that finds itself outdated about the text. These essays live entombed in time where they were written and for what purpose they were intended. Not unlike any other published collection of column writings, but if one is a student of history as am I, they can find some wonderful gems in here which will connect readily with other points of study. Along the way, you will laugh and wince and occasionally feel odd shaped or uncomfortable for Wiley is witty and humorous and solemn and honest all throughout.
Social critique in the era of the blogosphere is fast becoming an undervalued art as everyone imagines that they are capable of doing such a thing, but here lies a study in a classical method of critique knowing that your ultimate goal is to assist your audience with understanding and comprehending the unfamiliar if they are daring enough to walk with you to the end. If we are not both made a little uncomfortable by the journey, we will not be able to readjust readily to one another’s presence in a way that is fair and just to the both of us.