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224 pages, Hardcover
First published June 14, 2016
to be a writer is to bear witness; to be a black writer is to bear witness to tragedy. in order to be honest and good, this is something i can't escape.the debut book from knobler fellow and nation writer mychal denzel smith, invisible man, got the whole world watching, is a personal and political coming-of-age that melds candid detail with trenchant analysis. taking its title from a mos def lyric, smith's book shares a revealing and self-aware recap of his development as a young black millennial and budding wordsmith. confronting his own assumptions (about a variety of subjects and social issues), smith is a smart, searching, and skilled writer, one committed to chronicling not only his own challenges, but also those of a culture still mired in prejudice, bigotry, disregard, and disenfranchisement.
we make a grave mistake every time we invoke the history of oppression to diminish the reality of racism's present. progress is real, but the narrative of progress seduces us into inaction. if we believe, simply, that it gets better, there is no incentive to do the work to ensure that it does.confronting patriarchy, homophobia, misogyny, the mental health stigma, and obama's politics of race, smith turns an incisive eye to issues that are often overlooked within his own community—calling out movements that seek solidarity while excluding the most defenseless and vulnerable. there's an enviable fervor and zeal to smith's writing, yet, at times, he seems to vacillate between recognizing the power of his own critical thinking and doubting in his ability to excel in conveying it (which combine to great effect in revealing a very human duality). invisible man, got the whole world watching is unabashed and unequivocal, and mychal denzel smith's a keen observer of both himself and the world around him.
but we have to start with the right questions. we re-create white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, class-based elitism, self-hatred, violence, and untreated mental illness in part because we have failed to ask the right questions about how to end them. so far we've mostly asked how we can stop the bleeding.