[READ] Losing My Cool ¼ Thomas Chatterton Williams – dedelicate.com
Us Thus I feel moved to respond to Williams whose book I fear only plays to white people s tendency to believe racist argumentsHis book is a memoir recounting his experience growing up in what he calls hip hop culture reflecting on his relationship with his father who is an intense book reader and collector and describing his eventual changes in values and priorities and understandings as he moved away from hip hop culture He describes how his peers even from a young age rejected books as uncool while idolizing famous rappers and lusting for material possessions and concentrating on even obsessing about clothes and ewelry In high school he describes a misogynist superficial atmosphere where boys and girls used each other for sexual and material favors as a matter of course where he felt compelled to hit his girlfriend when confronted with evidence of her affair and later to fight the other man in order to save faceThese personal experiences are no doubt valid but the conclusions Williams draws are not What he is ignoring is that these are not symptoms of black culture in particular but rather of the broader culture of this country We don t have to look far to find widely respected white people who promote sexism and the treatment of women as My Uncle Oswald just bitches Eminem comes to mind if we restrict ourselves to hip hop We could broadenust to include rock and roll and spend years listing bands with white members who have treated women as less than human in lyrics and their personal lives We might look at other forms of media controlled by whites generally and find America s Top Model s constant humiliation of young women or the constant pressure to have a perfect body where perfect is defined by the media controlled by whites Of course the far uglier side of the problem is the millions of white men who commit rape and abuse or murder their wives and girlfriendsMaterialism similarly is symptomatic of the broader culture The PR industry spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year to bombard us incessantly with advertising exhorting us to buy anything and everything enticing us with promises of sex love happiness coolness family affection whatever will make another sale Williams would be hard pressed to explain how suburban whites who accumulate multiple cars large homes tons of plastic toys and hair driers not to mention clothes and furniture are not every bit as materialistic as the black people he describes If Williams childhood atmosphere exuded materialism what must it have been like for the white person he dubbed Playboy who grew up with servants multiple homes around the world and complained about the food at the fancy restaurants he ate at every nightAnti school and anti intellectual attitudes are also common among white people Dismissing the smart kids is an age old tradition we have a whole vocabulary nerd geek einstein to insult and marginalize the kids who want to do well in school Further According to Tim Wise who cites the National Center for Education Statistics there is no evidence that black kids in general are less academically inclined than white students 43 percent of black fourth graders do one hour or of homework per night as do 45 percent of whites and 47 percent of Hispanics In fact black and Hispanic fourth graders are both likely than whites that age to do than one hour of homework with 18 percent of Hispanics 17 percent of blacks but only 15 percent of whites putting in this amount of study time daily He also cites statistics showing that on average black parents actually spend time helping their children with homework than white parentsI agree with Williams that these are horrific and destructive values However to pin them on hip hop culture without acknowledging their prevalence in the broader culture allows some people to blame the ills of racism on black culture Williams at many times implies that systematic discrimination came to an end with Jim Crow although he never says so explicitly The problem is that the gaping reality of disparity between blacks and whites demands an explanation Black people have higher rates of unemployment are far likely to be imprisoned die sooner have higher levels of stress have lower levels of education among many many other problems that are simply worse for black than white This reality lurks in the background of the book and unfortunately Williams makes it all to easy to blame hip hop culture To do so is racist unless we are willing to blame sexism and materialism among whites on Eminem culture or AC DC culture It s not fair to blame black culture for black problems unless we do the same for whites Also it is ignorant of the facts to claim that black people are materialist sexist anti intellectual than whites Though I m not sure that Williams blames an amorphous black culture for the problems he describes it s easy to fall into that trap as many people who argue similarly do This is racist because there is no universal black culture Black people are diverse and varied some valuing school others dissing it some valuing women others dissing them some valuing material goods excessively others not This is one way to be racist treating people not as individuals but as indistinguishable members of a groupWiliams at one point espouses openly racist views He explains his choice of shirts and sweaters and trousers or The Umbrella Man (Inspector Samuel Tay jeans that fit over saggingeans or basketball shorts because he wanted to look like a man and not a kid that he no longer wanted to look like he was about to stick up a 7 eleven This is not fair Most people who sag their The Witch’s Warning (Aberrations jeans are law abiding citizens who never stick up a 7 eleven and Williams knows this It s not right to say that people look inherently childish if they dress a certain way it s in the eye of the beholder We re all taught that wearing a tie around your neck is a sign of formality and seriousness And it is as long as we all agree that it is But its not hard to imagine a society where people think it looks silly or uncomfortable I already do think that Why is either view or less valid I don tudge Williams for his style I only ask that he offer others the same courtesyStill Williams may be right that he has seen people damaged and limited by the social context of materialism sexism and anti intellectualism that he describes But to blame hip hop culture in the way that he does claiming that systematic racism is dead only serves to obscure understanding of the problem If instead we look at the broader culture we can see that these problems are not a black problem but a problem for all people in the United States Unfortunately we are also left with the uncomfortable reality of disparities between black and white if we can t blame black culture then perhaps all the claims of discrimination are worth investigatin. Otional depth Losing My Cool portrays the allure and danger of hip hop culture with the authority of a true fan who's lived through it all while demonstrating the saving grace of literature and the power of the bond between father and
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READ Losing My Cool ¼ Thomas Chatterton Williams – dedelicate.com
Mildly heartwarming as a fatherson coming of age story but lacking sufficient perspective or nuance in its portrayal of hip hop culture Far too many reductive sweeping Beach Blanket Bad Boys judgments of hip hop s influence based on tenuous interpretations of scant anecdotal evidence I d highly recommend the The Beautiful Struggle by Ta Nehisi Coates for a much sharper take on similar subject matter This book offers an interesting perspective on hip hop culture and the ways in which it can distort the perspectives of young black people and especially some of its misogynistic tendencies But the author has a very solipsistic perspective best displayed in his treatment of RaShawn a young black man he admired when he was younger RaShawn becomes the author s foil in that while Williams reads and thinks his way out of his circumstances RaShawn goes down into a spiral of crime andail But the implication of this is that hip hop culture which RaShawn embraced and Williams ultimately rejected determined their fates Williams never once stops to ask or investigate what RaShawn s life circumstances were like outside of his hip hop posing Perhaps poverty abuse at home etc determined both RaShawn s embrace of hip hop AND his ultimate fate rather than hip hop being the culprit Williams seems unable to grant people like RaShawn the same fullness of humanity that he reserves for himself in this memoir Losing My Cool is a profound reflection on one of the prevalent cultures within the US While I find it somewhat bemusing that any individual could be so bold as to critiue any nonfiction writer who is willing to offer up their own intimate and precious life experiences for a greater good which Williams does in brilliant fashion I nevertheless wish to praise this candid and honest analysis of urban hip hop culture Williams does not shy away from divulging the unfavorable aspects of his past which makes his latter observations on social and self identity all the miraculous As a high school teacher of English Literature I picked up William s memoir hoping to gain some perspective in regards to my African American students I feel as though I have been given a great deal of insight into the mindset of my students who embrace the hip hop idealism and who euate it as their racial identity I feel as though I can meet the general disdain for learning literature and all things disregarded as un real with from a place of greater understanding and I thank Williams for that Nothing would please me than to teach this book in my classroom Unfortunately we live in a society where many parents would rather pretend that their precious ones are too innocent to read about the very things that they partake of on Friday nights and it is difficult for teachers and students to embrace a culture of true learning in the public classroom which is often oppressed by private political agendas and rhetoric I applaud Williams again for his unabashed honesty and hope that others will be able to see the beautiful message relayed in this book and be given the opportunity to hear the crucial message that it sends Overall solid and fascinating account of the author s attraction to hip hop culture and its narrow definition of blackness versus his autodidact father s emphasis on grades reading and philosophy He expresses very well why and how he was attracted to hood styles make no mistake the hip hop he refers to is the street stuff not conscious stuff which he and his friends derisively referred to as Starbucks niggas Even though my experience is a bit different as a black male I identified with the various pressures and crises of trying to fit in to this ideal and dealing with the social humiliation should one fail to measure upThen he graduates goes to Georgetown and after the first year of keeping his hood bona fides up he undergoes an abrupt change and it is the description of his growing estrangement from hip hop and his realization of how he and those around him chose a narrow lie of what black people could be that the book earns its four stars He describes the interior process of slowly drifting away from his old peers and his growing appreciation for his father s sacrifices with a generosity of spirit and precision of language that I greatly appreciatedMy favorite part though is where as a philosophy major he struggles with Hegel s master and slave dialectic and after beginning to understand some serious hardcore thought notes But by that point something had changed in my response to the music and irreparably so I listened to the music and I listened to it a lot but it became nearly impossible for me to be impressed by it on anything approaching a deeper level to see rappers like Jay Z and Nas and the Wu Tang Clan or even Mos Def and Talib Kweli in the light I used to see them and so many still do as something than entertainers and petty egoists as something akin to autodidact philosophers and thinkers as role models and guides as black people CNN I couldn t do it not once I actually had some philosophy under my belt and was getting into the habit of thinking for and informing myselfThat put into stark words something I still have difficulty with listening to conscious rappers who I admire but when I try and break them down the ideas are still confused and lacking or if they re on point they re on point on a basic level and it s the wordplay that puts them a cut above and that skill of wordplay often gets mistaken for thought itself But listening to some of Lupe Fiasco s passionate but half formed political ideas or reconciling Mos Def s attempts at analysis on Black on Both Sides with the lazy inconsistent performances he s given and his belief in oh to pick one thing Bigfoot Like I love hip hop but to leave it as the highest point of expression in terms of black thought political analysis and philosophy is a mistake too many intelligent fans make much less the lowest common denominator taking on prefabricated street dreams as their waking lifeBottom line finishing this book inspired to me to push myself to think harder and to do better to ask how I could live a better life and what such a life might be for And that s about the highest praise I can give to a book I m about 10 years older than the author so my relationship to hip hop is a bit different I grew up with funk and disco in the white suburbs of Pittsburgh When hip hop came along I lapped it up It was so black The mainstream white and black hated it People didn t understand it Hip hop became a source of pride for meOf course the music was a lot diverse in the 80s We had silly rap good time rap black nationalist rap misogynist rap and what would become gangsta rap It was before the multinational record labels got a hold of it and turned the lion s share of mainstream hip hop as though that cou. A provocative intellectual memoir USA Today from a remarkable new literary voice Growing up Thomas Chatterton Williams knew he loved three things in life his parents literature and the intoxicating hip hop culture that surrounded him Fo.
Ld ve existed in 87 into the gangsta varietyI often wondered what it must ve been like growing up with that constant nihilistic self loathing misogynist message being pounded into impressionable young ears Losing My Cool gave me insight into that experience I don t know how representative Williams s experiences are of that generation s experience with hip hop but it is still illuminating as well as depressing I definitely appreciate his perspective and recommend that other people check it out While I appreciated the author s honesty and ability to write about some hard subjects I Kingdom of Souls (Kingdom of Souls, just didn t get into the book The first half I felt was overkill I understood the hip hop culture and how he lived it out pretty uickly And then the second half was the same way I read at least 30 pages making the same point I also felt that the author was a bit too universal in hisudgements He was certainly able to see his own actions for what they were and that I admit takes bravery and integrity but I don t believe that you can ever udge anyone else s actions based on your own motives He may be right about everyone living the thug life or whatever but regardless he doesn t have the right to assume they were operating under the same motives But maybe that s ust me First I ve got to say that Williams was brave to write this book Taking a hard honest look at hip hop culture being critical of it and then publicly writing about his conclusions are fraught things for a black man to do in this country Opens him up to all sorts of unwarranted criticism I ve seen him called an Uncle Tom in than one place That being said the book itself is an interesting and engaging read Williams is a real writer He writes lucidly and concisely and has a knack for choosing from among all the scenes from his life those scenes that will best convey the story he wants to tellThe story itself is both sad and wonderful Sad because there are so very many intelligent talented young people who never have a chance to flourish because they re caught up on a culture that doesn t value and encourage those attributes There are of course other factors involved Wonderful because people like Williams father exist who seize every opportunity to learn and teach and who never settle for anything less than excellence from both themselves and others This book is a story of potential both wasted and expressedI usually don t respond to other people s reviews either those written here on or on other forums but in this case I ll make an exception Williams has been criticized for having a very narrow view of hip hop culture for being overly critical of it for not acknowledging all of the many excellent aspects of black culture in general and yes even for writing the book when he is genetically only half black Again that hint of Uncle Tom even when the phrase isn t used directly This is HIS story This is HIS experience He isn t writing a sociology text He doesn t have to apologize for what he writes by including all sorts of information extraneous to his experience in order to balance everything out Of course his experience isn t reflective of any and all aspects of the greater culture But it is his experience And it is the experience of most if not all of the kids who grew up with him in his neighborhood and school I am stunned that anyone thinks they have the right to criticize him for simply writing about his own lifeThat being said I highly recommend this book 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 uite a bitI look forward to seeing what else this author will write An engaging but very frustrating read I found it very upsetting how one sided the author is about a subculture that contains so many different elements both positive negative He has a very narrow view of hip hop While it is an interesting read I really HATE the premise message The author s racial politics taint every account he gives I m not sure he can claim to be a voice for most black men since his experience of seeking to mimick and be accepted as black are tied to his biracial heritage This is reinforced by his continous stereotyping He euates black culture and black people to hip hop which is really over simplistic racistAs a teaching tool about development I feel it still has some value because it does speak to many issues faced by most young men growing u I first heard of Thomas Chatterton Williams book Losing My Cool on a public radio program To the Best of our Knowledge I was a bit disturbed by Williams thesis that hip hop culture is the source of serious problems in the US black community especially because he played down racism as an ongoing problem I was disturbed by the fact that the white host appeared to lap up Williams ideasI am a white Jew and as such I think it s my responsibility to denounce racism like it is the responsibility of all caring people If anything white people have a greater responsibility to fight racism because the privilege of our skin means other white people who are after all the beneficiaries and arbiters of racism are generally likely to listen to. R years he managed to uggle two disparate lifestyles keeping it real in his friends' eyes and studying for the SATs under his father's strict tutelage until it all threatened to spin out of control Written with remarkable candor and em.
Thomas Chatterton Williams is the author of Losing My Cool and Self Portrait in Black and White He is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine a 2019 New America Fellow and the recipient of a Berlin Prize He lives in Paris with his wife and children