booklite: the reckoning – what blacks owe each other

Knowing what the final title Robinson penned is about (Quitting America), this book is clearly a sign on this middle-aged, uber intelligent, almost radical’s ex-pat road. The subtitle of this one is “What Blacks Owe to Each Other,” so I fully expected the descending curve of the narrative to prescribe virtue and morality as the antidote to this universal shift toward compulsive consumerism and willful social ignorance. And, I guess he does in his own, non-preachy way.


What I think Robinson did so well in this book is put identifiable characteristics on what the prison industrial complex is and means to, for, and about all of us. The reader is forced to look at the exploding incarceration rates of our people – not surprisingly, he focuses on the brothers – since the late 1970s and see the convergence of big business and racist government as the backdrop and atmosphere in which it all takes place. He uses the story of Harlem hustle-and-streetball-legend-turned-community mentor PeeWee Kirkland as a unifying thread connecting the effects of a failed educational system, reduction in gov’t funding for higher education, government corruption, and the rise of the private prison industry / post-bellum slavery. In usual Randall Robinson tell-em-why-you-mad-son fashion, he lambasts Bill Clinton and his anti-poor, anti-working class, anti-black policies that made his presidency worse for blacks in the U.S. and abroad worse than Reagan’s and Bush, Sr.’s combined.

I really appreciate how Robinson continues to elevate the call for reparations and make direct connections between the legacy of chattel and antebellum slavery and questions the validity and usefulness of “black leaders” – especially when they remain so silent on the death penalty and the prison industrial complex. What Robinson doesn’t say outright and hopes that we get from the text is that what blacks owe each other is sight and touch – to really see and care about ourselves with love and activism.


~ by Anayah on February 3, 2007.

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