Paleo Retiree writes:
This book is like a companion piece to Chris Rock’s famous “I love black people but I hate niggers” standup routine, and despite its obvious shortcomings I enjoyed it a lot. Today’s “black people” matrix can be so dominated by offputting horrors — thugs, gangs, beatings at fast-food outlets, hiphoppers, race hustlers, gaudy styles, out-of-wedlockism, Big Man-style political corruption, etc. — that I sometimes find myself wondering what it’s like to be one of the many decent black people who are leading classy, generous lives. It’s got to be different than being a decent Asian person in the midst of today’s Asian-person matrix, or a decent white person who’s part of today’s white-person matrix, right? But how? Starkes is here to tell us.
His tone is more motivational expert than Chris Rock-style comedian, but he’s one super-lively (and often hilariously exasperated) speaker. He talks entertainingly and informatively about the ‘hood-rat thing itself: where it comes from, how to handle them, what their characters and thought-processes are like, how they rationalize the ways they act, and what might be done about black-underclass dysfunction. I also enjoyed learning about a new category of people that Starkes has noticed and named: “Blacks with Nigger tendences.”
Starkes writes that he was tempted as a young guy to steer his own life in a ‘hood-rat direction, so what the book represents is a sharing of mucho lived experience and prolonged reflection. His basic attitude is that denial and sentimentality get in the way of being honest, and that honesty is necessary before real progress can be made, so let’s cut the crap and be frank with each other. His main point is that it’s destructive for African-Americans (and their politicians, entertainers and non-black allies) to protect, admire and make excuses for the thug subculture. Over-protect something to the point where you’re, in effect, nurturing it, and you’re going to find yourself with more of it. Common sense, right? Well, it is to some.
Fair warning: Starkes belongs to the tough-love, content-of-your-character, no-excuse-making, boot-camp school of discussion. Fans of blaming-everything-on-white-racism are likely to blow a fuse on picking up the book, but if you’ve been able to make it through ten pages of Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell or Shelby Steele without having a stroke you should be able to handle it. Besides, Starkes seems to know the world he’s telling us about, so why not pay him some attention?
As an artifact, the book (which appears to have been self-published) is pretty amateurish. The writing is more informal than what you’ll find in most Facebook postings. There’s lots of pointless wordplay, repetition, punchiness for the sake of punchiness (the capital letters in the book’s title are typical) and zigzagging disorganization. It’s pretty street in its own way. That said, street energy can be a kick — and, besides, what’s the point of having a prissy reaction to a work like this one? It’d be like complaining that a blog that’s valuable for its frankness, honesty and openness doesn’t have the slickness of a glossy magazine feature. That isn’t why such blogs are valuable.
Final verdict: “The Un-Civil War” is short, lively, smart, and full of verve and personality. I found it thought-provoking, as well as an interesting, enjoyable and helpful glimpse into people, lives, minds and communities I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
- A lot of the reader reviews at Amazon are informative.
- Taleeb Starkes’ website.
- Colin Flaherty interviews Starke.
- Adam Carolla interviews him.
- The Daily Kos points and sputters.
- Progressive Revolutionaries point and sputter too.
- I interviewed Thomas Sowell for Salon. Given the SJW/clickbait joke that the magazine has become in recent years, it’s hard to believe Salon was once a lively publication that was open to such pieces.