Michael Strode's Reviews > We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity

We Real Cool by Bell Hooks
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May 14, 11

bookshelves: afrowomenwrite, afroessential, nublackmale, chipublib, read-in-2011
Read from April 11 to May 14, 2011

There are times when one enters into a text blindly knowing not what to expect. One sets no expectations that their present opinions will be confirmed or refuted. They simply are on a journey and reaching out for other input about the direction of their walk. I came to locate this text at while browsing the Chicago Public Library and am delighted that I chose to add it to my present reading list. She calls it "radical black masculinity" though by the time you reach the end of the text you realize that she is seeking a certain return of a black masculinity that we once held which is now lost to many of us.

Upon reading such chapters as "Gangsta Culture" and "Schooling Black Males", I saw glimmers and glimpses of my formative years pass by. I recall one instance where I was in the car with my mother and I decided to play the tape in my Walkman which was by a group called the Luniz and an album titled "Operation Stackola". In the particular song I played, "Put The Lead On Ya", a rapper named Dru Down utters the words "and if you're a woman / don't think i still won't put the lead on ya / bitchhhh". My mother without pause snatched the tape out of the deck and tossed it from the car window. Why did I think this sort of material was acceptable to play either for my mother's ears or my own? Why was I obsessed with emulating the sexual lothario and street combativeness that I saw emanating from my brother's daily existence? How did I come from the place where I previously lived to the ground where I now stand? I credit the women.

Whether it was my mother snatching that tape from the car and clearly showing me that certain language and actions were entirely unacceptable or my daughter now who cautions me to both censor myself until the practice becomes a lifestyle and also to stop trying to shield her in ways that might make her consider patriarchy and paternalism the manner all men should exhibit in her future. There are many other women in between who have shown me how "quaint" some of my assumptions were and helped to groom and grow me forward. For their presence I am forever grateful.

After my daughter was born, I was known to say that it was probably a good thing that I didn't have a son because I would not know how to teach him how to be a man as I perceived the world to see them. I don't play the usual sports or watch them. I enjoy the kitchen and cooking and poetry. Had I a son, he might suffer a terrible time during his schooling years subscribing to some the ways I live at present, but I am wholly aware of what a fool's errand that statement was now. There are many ways to be cool as hooks' offers to us now and they don't have to be rooted in the dying patriarchy of the past, but a brilliant, bold, and creative manhood of the future. One that subscribes to the notion that men mustn't always be stoic, they can be open and vulnerable and self aware. They can say the things amongst friends that others have chosen not to say because of masculine groupthink and they can find more innovative ways to be cool that don't involve sexual exploits, physical combat and domination, or monetary gain. We too cool to be caged by white supremacy. In other words, we off that.
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Reading Progress

04/18/2011 page 33
18.0% "Every time I come to consider that I have thoroughly parsed apart a narrow scope of masculinity within myself, I encounter something else that makes me consider how much farther I have to go and perhaps I should stop counting my steps altogether for in this glorious tome, bell has come to speak of a radical reconstruction of our understanding of manhood from the outdated notion of the American patriarch."
04/26/2011 page 67
36.0% "hooks fantastically captures the evolution of my disgust with Cleaver's "Soul On Ice" in her chapter "Don't Make Me Hurt You". A disgust that evolved initially from having read the text somewhere around the age of 18 or 19 and considering it to be a sort of morbid genius. Now I look back and see a similar fascination nurtured my relationship with the Luniz in my teenage years both misogynistic in nature."

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Reinhardt My mother without pause snatched the tape out of the deck and tossed it from the car window." LMBO!!!!! SO TRUE!!! I am grown and my momma about through my IPOD in the trash when she heard Lil Wayne on Kerri Hilson's "Your turning me On." He says something like...I hope your vagina bites...or something like that...she had a fit!!!! But no tossing of the IPOD...that will get the police called fo' sho!!!!


message 2: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Reinhardt *threw


message 3: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Reinhardt Write a comment...Why was I obsessed with emulating the sexual lothario and street combativeness that I saw emanating from my brother's daily existence? Good Question!!!! I think we all want to fit in or "feel cool." I used to wear out DMX...but why? What a simple mess his CDs were...and Ja Rule wasn't any better...and JAY-Z has got to be among the worst...but for some reason...I am guility of owning CDs by each of the aforementioned gentlemen.


message 4: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Reinhardt In other words, we off that! Love the ending! What a great review...I have missed this site


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