The book was laugh-out-loud funny, but it was an easy read. Baratunde did not take a whole lot of risks with this book, because he wants everyone to l...moreThe book was laugh-out-loud funny, but it was an easy read. Baratunde did not take a whole lot of risks with this book, because he wants everyone to love him. And we do! (I'm making an exception to my rule of referring to authors by their last names, because Baratunde is just such a cool name! No disrespect!)
He points out the existence of "The Angry Negro" but then distances himself from that. Oh sure, he admits that he has occasionally played the "confrontational" role, but he never confronts his readers. The one example he uses of a time when he became The Angry Negro was a moment in high school (so we can blame it on hormones, right?) when he "lost his cool". So basically, it's not cool to be angry. Angry people should "run a few laps to chill out" which is what he did. He ridicules examples of angry black people who start arguments for stupid things like being asked "paper or plastic" at the grocery. The last few sentences of the Angry Negro chapter:
"You are fearless. You're an angry black superhero for justice. Remember that when people inevitably start to distance themselves from you. Being hated is part of the job."
Wow, how to even begin to parse that? I know this book is satire, which means every sentence is laced with both truth and hyperbole and the opposite of truth, but it sounds like Baratunde himself can't decide about the question of Anger, so he uses "satire" to cloak himself in as much ambiguity as possible. It seems clear that he kind of thinks that Anger is the most appropriate and truthful response to discrimination against blacks. And yet he almost, but not quite, admits that he hates the Angry Negro. But because this book is satire, he doesn't have to lose face by actually delving into WHY he, and maybe others, hate Angry Negro.
I can tell you why. It's because in order to make real change in polite society, you have to pretend to be polite, even if it's total bullshit and you are fuming inside. Angry people ruin everything, they are too truthful, they are too MAD, and therefore not like us. They are the embodiment of how we feel on the inside but have spent our whole lives bottling up. It's a threat. We are jealous at how free those madmen are. We'd rather hide 99% of the truth from ourselves because living with 100% of the truth about racism is just too overwhelming. We want to ship these super-angry people somewhere far, far away. So that we can sleep at night. And wage a more peaceful war, a more civilized war, a more drawn-out and ultimately more damaging war. People are cowards.
But, Baratunde is supah smart, and knows how to sell gobs of books, and to do that he has to be polite and satirical and ambiguous. He knows how to not alienate anyone, which is impossible if you really want to speak truth about racism, but somehow he does it. It's awesome being funny! So, needless to say, I wanted more of a challenge, but I loved the book anyway. (less)