Rachelreads's Reviews > Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture

Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams
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U_50x66
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Jul 05, 10

Read on July 05, 2010

I was happy to win this book as a Goodreads giveaway. It was a fast read, and I found it to be very compelling. I loved the premise of the author being able to throw off the shackles of the hip-hop culture through the salvation of books, ideas, and his father's influence.

The first part of the book convincingly shows how captivating the street culture can be, even to black teens who live far from the streets. It was fascinating to me from an anthropological point of view, and especially to be able to see that first-person account from one who has been there and is now able to see it from an objective distance as well. My only reservation in recommending this book is for sensitive readers to understand that the descriptions of the author's adolescent experiences are gritty and sometimes vulgar. This comes with the territory of this subject matter.

I wonder at the seductive power that the culture held over the author, such that it took him until he was in the second year of college before he was able to see it for what it really was - that all the talk of "keeping it real" by being dumbed down, focused on material possessions, and degrading to women, was all a crushing lie. His father was desperately trying to open up his son's mind through enforced study sessions after school and during the summers, but until the author was able to move away, he was not able to free himself. This seems to be a very important point to me, that one's social and physical environment is very powerful, and how needful it is that everyone be able to travel and experience other cultures and other points of view.

I very much enjoyed the second half of the book that detailed the author's awakening. This includes some delightful discussions of philosophy as applied to the black experience. I learned quite a bit.

I look forward to seeing what else this author will write.
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Dani >>This seems to be a very important point to me, that one's social and physical environment is very powerful, and how needful it is that everyone be able to travel and experience other cultures and other points of view.<<

A similar thought occurred to me several times as I was reading the book. I am the mother of four black children in the southern US who haven't felt the need to fall for the "keepin' it real" myth and neither have a lot of their friends. I do believe that a big factor in this is where we live. We have access to BET and hip-hop music but there isn't the pressure here to emulate it that black kids in a more urban area might be faced with.


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