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Mel Hopkins

Black Middle Aged Men Invisible? I call BS

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Founder and Creator of AALBC.com, The oldest website for black literature, @Troy  says black middle aged men are invisible?   the irony is not lost on me especially since Troy has a wikipedia page - and is noted professional in the Literary field... anyway, in the original thread -

 

I named at least 15 men who are architects of America's current narrative - And I didn't even look seriously at the literary scene.

There's no way in hell black middle-aged men are invisible.  That is unless they want to be...
 

416x416.jpg?background=000000&cropX1=112Robert Smith, Billionaire https://www.forbes.com/profile/robert-smith/#4b12675e61df

  • A former Goldman Sachs investment banker, Smith started private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in 2000.
  • With over $30 billion in assets, Vista is one of the best-performing private equity firms, posting annualized returns of 22% since inception.
  • As a college student, Smith secured an internship at Bell Labs after calling the company every week for five months.
  • An engineer by training, he worked at Kraft Foods and Goodyear Tire before getting his MBA at Columbia University.
  • A Cornell grad, Smith pledged $50 million (personally and through a foundation) to the university in 2016.

 

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  • Regarded by most as the NBA's greatest all-time player, Michael Jordan won six titles with the Chicago Bulls.
  • His total playing salary during his career totaled $90 million, but he has earned another $1.4 billion (pre-tax) from corporate partners.
  • Jordan bought a majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets in 2010 for a grossed-up value of $175 million.
  • The Hornets are now worth $1.05 billion with Jordan owning 90% of the team.
  • In addition to Nike, Jordan still has sponsorship deals with Hanes, Gatorade and Upper Deck 15 years after hanging up his hightops.

0506-BRYON-ALLEN-1-LIVE-1080x675.jpg

 

Byron Allen, Founder and CEO of Entertainment Studios  -

“I’m Not Going to Play Just in the Negro Leagues” 

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Let's just say, that black middle-age men might as well be invisible because they wield little influence over the direction of the country and this includes Obama.  The high-profile over-achievers are successful in spite of being black and their visibility always seems to be in the area of making money.  

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36 minutes ago, Cynique said:

they wield little influence over the direction of the country and this includes Obama.

 

@Cynique , it's because of the high-profile black men that the rhetoric isn't all white nationalism.

 

This is why I mentioned they are the architects of the current narrative... Maybe not the sole voice but that balance, Even if at times it's just to pull the country back from the brink of annihilation ... Late last year, the trumpets accused President Obama of interfering with world affairs when he went on his world tour  to speak directly with current world leaders.   If he didn't matter they wouldn't have bitched so loud.   
Reverend Sharpton just went to florida (again) to challenge a "stand your ground" law after a black man was murdered in front of his family  - The sheriff refused to arrest the man and told Sharpton to go home -  - but now the killer is indicted for manslaughter.  EDIT:  I forgot about Kenneth Frazier CEO, Merck quitting 45's now defunct business council after the Charlottesville imbroglio ... here's an updated article


Naw, these black middle-aged men are hardly invisible but how they choose to use their privilege is what I question.

Edited by Mel Hopkins
Kenneth Frazier Link

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To me, the middle aged men you mentioned are the few exceptions to the rule in a population of millions of mundane black men who simply go with the flow and are tokens who have a niche in the white Liberal community  Black middle-aged men will make no waves when it comes to the most pressing issue of our time, - the deposition of Donald Trump. The one person who could really make a difference is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and he's a lost cause.  But i appreciate your bringing to my attention the things i had no knowledge of when it comes to what some visible middle-aged black men are doing.  

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@Cynique what you expressed was my train of thought when I made the comment.

 

@Mel Hopkins, two of the three men were entertainers, and their enormous wealth has certainly afforded them a great deal of visibility. It is interesting that you've only selected extremely wealthy people to picture.  Is great wealth the key to achieving visibility?

 

I bet if you asked any of the millions of Black men who make up 40% of the prison population if they felt visible, you'd get a different response. You can ask one of the Black professionals overlooked in favor of a less qualified white coworker, or the brothers struggling to find a job that pays a living wage.

 

Sure Mel, we can both name high profile celebrities, but I'm talking about everyone else -- the VAST majority of Black men who no one sees.  The ones who are no longer counted as unemployed because they have been out of work for so long.  You know the ones who fell through the cracks in high school and no one noticed or cared.  The ones who have done their time but because of a record can't take advantage of federally subsidized housing, find a job, or even vote. 

 

I'm talking about the brothers who commit suicide by homicide and whose only achievement is to contribute to stats recounted on the evening news.

 

I'm talking about the Brothers who will never own a home, raise the children they have in the context of a loving relationship. The Brothers no one ever seems to see, save law enforcement who notice every minor transgression.

 

Black men have the lowest life expectancy than any other group or gender. Is this cause for outrage or even concern, nope.

 

 

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Troy said:

It is interesting that you've only selected extremely wealthy people to picture.  Is great wealth the key to achieving visibility?

 

@Troy  You're kidding me right? The fact, that you started the discussion in a thread about two black men who already have an audience speaks volumes.  I may not know of them but they are known - so we've already started the conversation with two middle-aged black men who are VISIBLE. 

 

Also, most of those men I mentioned were off the top of my head because they're the newsmakers.  Like, I said they are architecture of this country's narrative ... If I weren't busy I could have come up with a lot more black men who are controlling the narrative... You probably wouldn't have a clue to some of the names but those who do deals with them know them well.  Maybe you mean they're invisible like a puppetmaster pulling the strings. 

Further, the men I mentioned are without peer if we're to look to black women...

In fact, black women are a consistent democrat voting bloc - but who is in charge of the DNC -?  Still I don't want to make this about black women vs black men.. There is no competition. Black women have no voice when it comes to policy or even the national discourse. We don't set the tone... and if we complain, we are shouted down and told our complaining is inappropriate.  In fact it was just yesterday that chance the rapper had to speak up for Nicki Minaj because she dared speak about the inequity of billboard voting procedure that made her album come in second to Travis Scott who got an additional boost by his baby-mama Kylie Jenner Black women are probably the most unloved, unsupported, un-partnered women in the First world. You often ask why black women are so fat but once you notice that our feelings of love and reward come to us at the end of a fork - it's really a no-brainer. 

But back to middle-aged black men - when they show up  they get paid 70% of what white men make (down from 80 % in 1979) and that's when they choose to work for someone else.  

The simple fact is middle-aged black men aren't invisible.  They aren't even the most incarcerated 38.7 compared to white men at 58% nor are they at the top of the list of suicide - although they do have a higher rate of homicide by gun -but again the numbers are high for young brothers not middle-aged black men.   
 

2 hours ago, Cynique said:

a population of millions of mundane black men who simply go with the flow and are tokens who have a niche in the white Liberal community  Black middle-aged men will make no waves when it comes to the most pressing issue of our time,


I'm more inclined to agree with @Cynique  because I feel a lot  middle-aged black men have settled and choose not to use their privilege ...but invisibility - at least it's a choice for black men. 

 

....Farrakhan, Jay Z, Russell Simmons, 50 cent, Sean P Diddy Combs Paul Coates, Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates, Kwame Alexander...(<---he has his own imprint Versify with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books) Kenya Barris  ($100 Million-dollar deal with Netflix), Al Haymon,  Technite L. Londell Mcmillan (Michael Jackson's & Prince's former Entertainment Attorney -owns Source Magazine now ), Technite S, Edmiston (self-described corporate terrorist - bur really captain of industry sitting on several energy boards"),  J. D. Terry, PhD ( WiFI expert chipmaker, ioT, ) Armstrong Williams (media and entertainment fat cat -owns several television stations), Al Haymon,  Technite C. Ruffin, Pharma D ( Nuclear pharmacist ) 

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@Mel Hopkins as a percentage of the population Black men are the most incarcerated demographic -- no other demo comes close.

 

Mel you wrote:

 

26 minutes ago, Mel Hopkins said:

I don't want to make this about black women vs black men.

 

But then you proceeded to write mostly about this comparison.  Is the reason you disagree with me -- based on the belief that men are far more visible than women?  I'd happy argue this point as well:  Women out live Black men by a decade.  Black women attend and graduate from college at higher rates.  Black men are FAR more likely to be killed by police and other Black people. Of course I can go on, but you get the point.

 

26 minutes ago, Mel Hopkins said:

Further, the men I mentioned are without peer if we're to look to black women...

 

I can find female peers for all the men you mentioned.  Indeed you might struggle to find male peers 😉  Last I looked Oprah was the richest Black person in America -- she has no male peer.  But rather than go tit-for-tat lets keep the focus on the invisibility of the great masses of Black men.  

 

Mel, forget the celebrities for a moment.  Do you think Black men are really "seen" by our society?  How are we portrayed in the media, is it accurate? How many books are you aware of that include regular Brothers, not the drop dead gorgeous stud-muffins of romance novels, or the gangsters of the popular fiction, but the novels that speak to the lives of people like me, Pioneer or Del.  Do these novels get reviewed, are they on the NY Times bestsellers list?

 

And they wonder why Black men don't read...

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Troy said:

 

I can find female peers for all the men you mentioned.  Indeed you might struggle to find male peers 😉  Last I looked Oprah was the richest Black person in America -- she has no male peer.  But rather than go tit-for-tat lets keep the focus on the invisibility of the great masses of Black men.  

 

@Troy YOU'd be wrong by the tune of about 1.7 billion dollars... and the fact that she's the only black american woman on the list but there are 2  black American men billionaires listed with a few more black men about a 100-million away from the bn mark proves my point.  

 

And again - you mentioned that black men were the most incarcerated but they are not  - and again that number doesn't indicate how many middle-aged black men incarcerated - You can research it for yourself the numbers are available - bonus points if you get to break it down by age. 
 

30 minutes ago, Troy said:

Do you think Black men are really "seen" by our society? 


And of course I do, I just wrote three posts, the last one  listing middle-aged black men who are not celebrities but all have a seat at the table.  Middle-aged black men who choose to be visible ARE visible .

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Wait, what? Are you saying oprah is not the the richest black person in America? Who cares who is in second? Who was second behind Usain Bolt or Seymone Biles?

 

Black men are over represented in the prison population when compared to the general population. Ask yourself what percentage of the population is made up of black men, then compare that to the percentage of those locked up, then you will understand my point.

 

We are also more frequently incarcerated and more harshly sentenced when compared to any other group. 1 in 3 Bkack men can expect to be locked up at some time in their life. No other group has been so crippled.

 

I guess all these Brother gotta do is "choose" to be seen... sort of like pulling oneself self up by one's own boostraps.

 

Maybe having visited museums in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Jackson indeed just being in the deep south over the last few days has left me hyper sensitive to the plight of the Black man in America.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Troy said:

Wait, what? Are you saying oprah is not the the richest black person in America? Who cares who is in second? Who was second behind Usain Bolt or Seymone Biles?

 

Black men are over represented in the prison population when compared to the general population. Ask yourself what percentage of the population is made up of black men, then compare that to the percentage of those locked up, then you will understand my point.

 

 


@Troy , source your posted information.  You have a few inaccuracies or fallacies.  We are talking about middle-aged black men.  Not all black men. How many middle-aged black men are in prison?   Also source your information about Oprah that too is inaccurate. No middle-aged black women comes close to having the net worth of the richest  middle-aged black man in America.   As I mentioned, you stated middle-aged black men - that's what we are referencing anything outside of those parameters makes the conversation moot.

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@Mel Hopkins You realize you are the one who has introduced women, the wealthy and celebrities and now you are restricting me to just middle aged Black men when I talk about prison statistics?  If would be easier if you stopped bringing up women, billionaires, celebrities and focused on the original demographic.

 

Now keeping the conversation focused on middle aged Black men (the ages of say 40 to 65), we can continue.

 

I'm sure that you'll also find that middle aged Black men are overrepresented in prison too.  I'd have to try to find a source when I get a second.

 

Again, I ask you, where are the books that speak to the lives of middle aged Black men?  Do you believe we are equality represented in literature?  How about TV or Film?  Please don't say Black Panther.

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55 minutes ago, Troy said:

 You realize you are the one who has introduced women

 

I stated that black men are without peer - not even black women can compete with them.   AGAIN, I listed black middle-aged men who are not celebrities but are architects of the national discourse - direct industries, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, energy and the trillion dollar media and entertainment industry.

 

55 minutes ago, Troy said:

Again, I ask you, where are the books that speak to the lives of middle aged Black men?  Do you believe we are equality represented in literature?  How about TV or Film?  Please don't say Black Panther

 

YES...

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Mel all the men you mention re not just wealth but extremely wealthy  -- shoot they have fw white peers.

 

OK, name one novel that speaks to the Black male middle age black experience that is not driven by a celebrity, athlete, or some other entertainer.

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1 hour ago, Troy said:

OK, name one novel that speaks to the Black male middle age black experience that is not driven by a celebrity, athlete, or some other entertainer.

 

Just one?   Alex Cross.. Is James Patterson's franchise character.  

 

Patterson wrote Alex Cross  as a  black man who is a detective and psychologist. Patterson refused to let Hollywood change anything about him including his color.  He's a family man who is close to his mother and children. He's a widower. 

 

ANYTHING by Walter Mosley.  

A quick search returns a barnes and noble listing African-American Men's Experience that has 333 books!


Here's a notable that I've been meaning to read:

 

51KOh08LPCL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 


There's August Wilson's  Play -  Fences whose lead character is named "TROY"


AND I can go on for days with film and TV!

Let us not forget that since George Burn's passing - God Almighty is played by a black middle-aged man lol  -
 

(The Neighborhood) Cedric the Entertainer;  (Blackish) Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne , (SUITS) Wendell Pierce - (Law Firm's managing partner and Meghan Markle's dad) Denzel Washington (Equalizer 1-2); (Black Lightning) Cress Williams, school principal (but he's a superhero );  (Love IS) Salim Akil  (Greenleaf) Keith David /Gregory Alan Williams <both played flawed men who share the trials of being a black middle-aged man in America.   (Luther)  Idris Elba)and nope he doesn't look handsome - in fact his demons have gotten the best of him...but he's British.  

 

1 hour ago, Troy said:

Mel all the men you mention re not just wealth but extremely wealthy  -- shoot they have fw white peers.


And yes, I started to say some of those men have few white men peers...

Now could you imagined if I did some research?  

Oh! I left out  Bernard Tyson

Jul 1, 2013–
image.jpeg.46e6808a5bbfe270ba5f5fd86d01b071.jpeg
Bernard Tyson is the current CEO of integrated managed care consortium Kaiser Permanente.
 
 
Troy, I think this is why the society tries to destroy black boys because if they make it past 27 years old...Black men are an indomitable force. 

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@Mel HopkinsMorgan Freeman/God is 80-something  years old, and how could you overlook the most authentic proof of your argument when you omitted Steve Harvey from  a list of which, with a few exceptions, consisted of guys who do not qualify as household names, something Harvey has achieved among both blacks and whites.  And what begs the question in this debate, aside from black males being "visible"  not necessarily being a positive thing,  is if middle aged black men are so prominent and recognized, then why is everybody bitching about racism?  Apparently, any black male can achieve the American dream if he just tries; after all, those you cited did it.  A claim straight out of the playbook of white  Republican Conservatives.  If nothing else, this country is a land of contradictions.   

 

 

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@Mel Hopkins You left, the largest site dedicated to Black books (which happens to be run by a Black man) to go to a white-owned site to retrieve the cover of a book written by a white man to to support your point.  You are making it easy for me to make my point.

 

You and I both know I could have found a book with Black middle aged characters. Indeed, I have every book Walter Mosley ever wrote on the site (whether out of print or to be released).  However, I was interested in what you would write and your response spoke volumes.

 

The number 333 sounds like a lot but it is really rather small when you compare it to the total number of books sold on the B&N website.  More importantly however, if you actually examine the titles, you find many are reprints of books that are decades old.  The first 6 books show Invisible Man twice  Most are not about middle aged Black men at all. 25% of the books in the top 20 (the first page of results) are books from K'wan's Animal series. K'wans is my man, but his books don't speak to the middle aged Black man's experience at all.

 

Did you think I would not look at the books?

 

I'll give you Walter, but Walter is a unicorn too. I just came from a book Festival in Jackson MS, a city that is 80% Black, and there was not one book --- NOT ONE --   that spoke to the middle aged Black male experience.  The were books for Black kids and Black women, as there always are, but there weren't any for Black men. Mel, frankly no one really cares about this, either they are unaware of this reality, completely denial of it, or doing everything they can to ensure the status quo is maintained.

 

Now as a Black man, I'm used to this. As a bookseller it is obvious. You can probably count on 1 finger the number of heterosexual, middle aged Black males working in Big five NY publishing.  The novels produced reflect this reality. 

 

As @Cynique, just wrote America is a land of contradictions, sometimes you have to look carefully to see them.

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48 minutes ago, Troy said:

You left, the largest site dedicated to Black books (which happens to be run by a Black man) to go to a white-owned site to retrieve the cover of a book written by a white man to to support your point.  You are making it easy for me to make my point.

 

Now I really call BS.... @Troy, you were the first middle-aged black man I mentioned...  

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1 hour ago, Cynique said:

Morgan Freeman/God is 80-something  years old, and how could you overlook the most authentic proof of your argument when you omitted Steve Harvey from  a list of which, with a few exceptions, consisted of guys who do not qualify as household names, something Harvey has achieved among both blacks and whites.

 

@Cynique  True but he's been acting  the middle-aged black man role since Electric Company

On 8/21/2018 at 2:30 PM, Troy said:

 

As far as self help, I dunno; who are the self-help gurus? People like Steve Harvey come to mind but he is an entertainer. 


Troy, mentioned Steve Harvey early in the conversation and already discounted him. 

 

1 hour ago, Cynique said:

And what begs the question in this debate, aside from black males being "visible"  not necessarily being a positive thing,  is if middle aged black men are so prominent and recognized, then why is everybody bitching about racism?  Apparently, any black male can achieve the American dream if he just tries; after all, those you cited did it.  A claim straight out of the playbook of white  Republican Conservatives.  If nothing else, this country is a land of contradictions.   

  
Any black man can achieve the "American dream" that is if he survives the effects of racism. I'm not even going to continue with Troy's black man is invisible BS  -because that is pure fallacy.     Simply put this is a war created by  men and one that's been going on since time immemorial ... but this latest version here in america began when the anglo-saxons and anglo-celtics dragged the africans over here... but black men have found a way - and there's  a powerful story  here that proves this point.   https://longreads.com/2018/02/19/the-making-of-a-black-fortune/

The Making of a Black Fortune

America’s first black millionaires were born into slavery — and built wealth alongside political power.

Shomari Wills | Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires | Amistad | January 2018 | 6 minutes (1,450 words)

 

 

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1 hour ago, Mel Hopkins said:

Troy, mentioned Steve Harvey early in the conversation and already discounted him. 

 

Well, Steve shouldn't have been discounted.  Harvey has become a brand.  He has branched out from just being a comic, and now wears many hats. He is a talk show host (The Steve Harvey Show), a quizmaster( Celebrity Family Feud.}  and a talent scout (Big Shots) all on prime time major TV networks, something Troy probably isn't aware of because he doesn't watch TV. And, Harvey's audience is not just black which helps make him widely visible.  

 

Guess we can conclude that the much-vaunted  black unity concept is not really a factor in black success, any more than white unity is one in white success.  Any competitive individual with great skill sets can make it in this country.  Yet another myth put to rest along with the one about black women emulating European standards because they harbor self hate.  🙃

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@Cynique I only discounted Steve Harvey because he is an entertainer.  As long as we are providing entertainment, we can get some partial visibility.  Again, I'm talking about regular folks who can't tell jokes for an hour or run with a ball.

 

@Mel Hopkins, I know you mentioned me previously, I as addressing your current response.  But again, that was a relatively minor observation and as I wrote I was most concerned with the book you presented. 

 

Would you agree that novels reflecting middle aged Black men are relatively nonexistent compared to those of Black women, white women or white men?  Or do you believe it is on par?  How would you explain the absence of novels about Black men at a book festival presented in a city (Jackson, MS) that is essentially 40% Black and male (estimated by halving the total Black population)? 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Mel Hopkins said:

Any black man can achieve the "American dream" that is if he survives the effects of racism. 

 

I agree.

 

My 2 cents:

 

My take on this may seem unconventional. Also, I cannot make sense nor can I interpret the percentage breakdown on certain issues but, here’s my opinion on this topic:

 

I feel that this government has a lot to do with the issues of visibility versus invisibility when it comes to both Black African American men and women, and I feel that this system has a lot do to with the gender conflicts that exist between us and they have used methods to foster and carefully instigate conflicts and at times beef it up by way of certain ploys especially in terms of job opportunities given or not and etc. But, way before these Europeans set sail for this land though, I feel that there were already problems that did already exist between the Black African men and women and therefore, this is only being exploited continually.

 

And this is not an issue with just Black African American. My experience with a past co-worker, from India, shows me that they have the same dynamics in their cultures. 

 

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17 hours ago, Troy said:

Would you agree that novels reflecting middle aged Black men are relatively nonexistent compared to those of Black women, white women or white men?  Or do you believe it is on par?  How would you explain the absence of novels about Black men at a book festival presented in a city (Jackson, MS) that is essentially 40% Black and male (estimated by halving the total Black population)?  

@Troy I can't explain it.  Maybe they didn't do their homework.   A lot of organizers are out of their depth when it comes to putting these festivals together.  I wish folks would hire the professionals to produce these events.  Maybe they don't want to spend the money or put in the work.  I could have produced a phenomenal event that reflected the theme and audience.  For a fee of course.

Speaking of black middle-aged men (although he's still a youngin' ) Have you heard of this book?  Omar Epps self-published this book through lulu.com  "From fatherless to fatherhood" 

 

17 hours ago, Cynique said:

Well, Steve shouldn't have been discounted. 

 

@Cynique , I agree!  As much as SH gets on my "stupid nerves" - he's is doing that damn thing... In fact, I wrote a blog post about one of his inspiring words - and I was disgusted with myself for agreeing with him  lol! 

 I hollered when I read your comment, thank you!  For some reason this particular topic was pulling at my heartstrings and was making me feel bad for reasons I still can't figure out - but when I read  this:

17 hours ago, Cynique said:

Guess we can conclude that the much-vaunted  black unity concept is not really a factor in black success, any more than white unity is one in white success.  Any competitive individual with great skill sets can make it in this country.  Yet another myth put to rest along with the one about black women emulating European standards because they harbor self hate.  🙃


It brought me back to a reality that I can thrive in...

There's much to be said about individual effort - but this is the first time I've ever read/heard anyone acknowledge it publicly when referring to the black "community".  In fact, I kept bringing up these "unicorns" as Troy calls them and I didn't even recognize the pattern... Thank You.

By the way, @Troy  did you know a group of Unicorns is called a "BLESSING"

unicornherd_744230.jpg

 

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@Mel Hopkins, don't get me wrong the book fair in Jackson was really quite well done.  The authors and books they presented reflected what the industry produces.  This more than anything else explains the dearth of titles that speak to middle aged Black men that were presented there.

 

OK I give up. You all want to talk about celebrities and I just want to talk about regular folk.  Further I'm talking about novels these famous entertainers are not novelist. They are not writers. They don't create literature. 

 

Moving on...

 

I was unaware of Omar's book until an industry person asked, just yesterday, if I was aware of it.  In the past I'd follow up and add the book to the site.  But I no longer just add celebrity books to the site.  If they can pay a publicist to get them on the Today Show they can spare a couple hundred bucks for promotion on AALBC.  GIven the demographic of the Today show I'm sure AALBC would have been a much better investment -- Do any Black men watch the Today show? 

 

Boy, if I relied on wealthy celebrities with books to keep this site alive I would have been out of business long ago.  It is regular people who keep this site alive -- it is the Black men whose stories I try to ensure are told who keep me in business.  Maybe I'll dedicate a newsletter just to Black men and our stories.

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16 minutes ago, Troy said:

You all want to talk about celebrities and I just want to talk about regular folk.  Further I'm talking about novels these famous entertainers are not novelist. They are not writers. They don't create literature. 

 

I actually mentioned several regular folks but you say they're celebrities and unicorns... lol   I dunno @Troy . Now you say the festival was done quite well -- but you complained that there was no literature that reflect black middle-aged black men.  I give you "alex cross"  but that's not good enough.  So I'll go back to my original statement

PLEASE ELABORATE on this invisible middle-aged black man and how would you like to see him made visible...

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Oh I thought I made this abundantly clear, but I'll repeat one.  I want to see more novels published that speak to the experiences of middle aged Black men.  I'd like to see these books widely discussed, critically reviewed, and making bestsellers lists. 

 

 

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Just now, Troy said:

I want to see more novels published that speak to the experiences of middle aged Black men.  I'd like to see these books widely discussed, critically reviewed, and making bestsellers lists. 

 

Such as? Describe said "novels" what's the plot? is it  "men's fiction" (mainstream) or a  literary novel? 

Aside: So, "Fences" didn't make the cut or none of Walter Mosley's novels?

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How compelling are the lives of middle aged black men?  They are just carbon copies of the lives of middle aged white men.  They all have the same hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities.  Vital young black men are very visible in this country. They will one day fade into the blur of middle age after they have had their day in the sun.  That's how it goes.  Why is it so necessary to elevate middle aged men of any race, especially when women are kicked to the curb as they grow older.  

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@Mel Hopkins  I'm not sure you are reading my replies.  If you search this thread for the word "Mosley" (hit the "ctrl" and "f" key at the same time) you'd read that I agreed that Mosley would meet my criteria -- and that I have all of his book on the site.  Yes, August Wilson is a great example too, though he is not a novelist nor is a contemporary writers as he died over a decade ago.

 

You'll also find that I said I'm aware of such titles.  The problem is, as a function of all the titles published, novels that speak to the Black middle aged male experience do not get very much light -- save unicorns like Mosley, whose profile was raised when our "first Black president," said Mosley was his favorite author. That was better than getting the Oprah boost.

 

Speaking of Oprah, can you think of a single Oprah picks that was a novel that spoke to a Black middle aged male experience?

 

Again, I'm going to create list of such writers. I published an article, years ago, by a young writer, Kevin Reeves, who touched on this subject and explained why it matters, Richard Wright to Jay-Z: The Decline of Young Black Male Literary Writers.”

 

The issue i'm raising is not a new one.  I understand it is apathy, ignorance, and maliciousness that allows it to persist. 

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2 hours ago, Troy said:

Again I understand it is apathy, ignorance, and maliciousness that allows it to persist. 

 

@Troy , you missed one - Lack of interest.  It is telling that you say this isn't a new revelation.  

 

Bookselling isn't a nonprofit business.  If there's no market or demand for middle-aged black man literary fiction why would a  publishing house invest in it?  Acquisition editors (even the heterosexual middle-aged black men) are probably asking like I asked  "where's the conflict?"  "What's the plot?"  "Where's the drama?"  

Like I mentioned James Patterson has no problem selling his Alex Cross books - and has even franchised the character.  Neil Cross got a Simon & Schuster book deal to write 3 tie-in novels for the BBC television character "Detective Chief Inspector John Luther"  and it achieved critical acclaim.

So actually Walter Mosley isn't a unicorn but rather a brilliant crime novelist who knows what sells and how to sell it. 


By the way, interesting books have longevity. It doesn't matter if the author died 10 years ago or 54 years ago.  W.E. B Du Bois' Souls of Black folks is still selling well 115 years after it was first published.

 

To recap;  I've established middle-aged black men aren't invisible.  You mentioned Skip Gates was a unicorn but I know of other educators that are quite vocal and sought after when it comes to commenting and having input on this country's narrative.  In fact, quite a few have blue ticks on Twitter -so they're easy to find. 

 

I've established that middle-aged black men are also visible in other industries from Astrophysics (I forgot to add Neil deGrasse Tyson) to those middle-aged black American men whose wealth and/or accomplishments are without peer, period.   So we know there's no nefarious plot to keep the "black man down"... but rather there are obstacles they must hurdle such as  prejudice and surviving the effects of racism to achieve their goals.

So you then transitioned to middle-aged black men are invisible in the literary world, save celebrities.

 

That article you posted is beautifully written and although I've come to a different conclusion, much respect due to the writer.     I agree with him on two points, one:

 

"Yet, the trends of big publishing are not responsible for the halting of young black male literary voices."

 

And I agree, no one is replacing literary fiction either - but Hip Hop brought oral storytelling from brink of extinction. 

 

Hip Hop is unique to the black community as is gospel singing.  Young black men have found their voice in hip hop and they tell the story their way.   If you read Lisa Robinson's cover story "The Gospel According to Kendrick" in Vanity Fair-it speaks to the same conclusion the Pulitzer jury came to  about Hip Hop as did your writer Kevin Reeves. 

 

They, however, acknowledged that Hip Hop storytelling isn't a lesser version of literary fiction - it is literary fiction set to music and they awarded Kendrick Lamar's  Damn"  a Pulitzer in Music (for storytelling) .  So in the same vein we can say that 4:44 by JAY Z is literary fiction with a black middle-aged man as the protagonist. 

 

Whew, I'm glad you whittled this "elephant" down to bite-size pieces.  Because really, I could have continued to produce examples to the contrary every day. 


So now that you stated the real challenge, lets go.

Note:  I'm an avid reader who doesn't fit into your paradigm. So, maybe you shouldn't assume your aforementioned reasoning is why this:

 

20 hours ago, Troy said:

I want to see more novels published that speak to the experiences of middle aged Black men.  I'd like to see these books widely discussed, critically reviewed, and making bestsellers lists.

 

hasn't come to fruition.

 

 I, for one, simply have no interest in literary fiction and definitely wouldn't read it. I find it's too much like navel-gazing.

 

Now if your middle-aged black man is a protagonist in a suspense thriller then I'm all over it and I  have been for years. But then again, I'm into problem-solving.   Most of my interaction with vivid, vibrant middle-aged and black men protagonists have come from white-american men  writers (dean koontz, stephen king, neil gaiman, greg iles,et al); and from screenwriters.  So I guess, I'm attracted to games of strategy and tactics - and I don't care who is telling the story as long as they got game.

 

Which is why your writer provides an interesting discourse because damn, I listen to hip hop/rap all-day every day!  Hip Hop represents game of life and street credz...

 

So maybe our literary fiction doesn't look or even read like European literary fiction... Even our YA novels don't look like eurocentric YA novels - Even Kwame Alexander has hit a mark with young readers by giving them books in verse ...Dude is like a rock star with his books - I mean he is literally on tour with a tour bus and everything...AND HE IS A MIDDLE-AGED black man! 

 

So maybe that's the answer to the lack of middle-aged black male voices in literature - maybe they must find theirs. 
 

 

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@Mel Hopkins "Lack of interest" = Apathy

 

You asked for an example Mel and I repeated the one about Black novelist, but all of your examples don't address this genre. Gates and Tyson write nonfiction.  I also said said entertainers like JayZ and Kendrick Lamar are not novelists at only get attention because they provide entertainment for and enrich white people... but I said I gave up trying to explain the difference.

 

As far as James patterson is concerned white people can write about Black people all day long and get more attention than a Black writer.  White folks created Black Panther.  Black people created superheroes but they give no attention -- they are invisible.

 

I actually do care, very much, who tells the story.  It matters who tells the story not just for financial reasons but for truth.  If you believe that the likes of, dean koontz, stephen king, neil gaiman, greg iles,et al, can write about Black men better than Black man... I don't know what to tell you.

 

Kwame is my man too. I've know him 20 years, he put me on my first panel discussion related to books, but he writes children's books. He is not writing novels addressing the middle-aged Black men.

 

Why is my simple case so hard to comprehend?  

 

1 hour ago, Mel Hopkins said:

I, for one, simply have no interest in literary fiction and definitely wouldn't read it. I find it's too much like navel-gazing.

 

This is a surprising statement.  You mean don't read the likes of Toni Morrison, Bernice Mcfadden, Chimamanda Adichie?  I was really focused on literary fiction in my argument

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3 minutes ago, Troy said:

"Lack of interest" = Apathy

 

@Troy , Apathy is more of having no emotion or feeling towards it -  or indifference.  

 

In this context lack of interest is NOT apathy  because like I wrote IT IS BORING!!!

Second, YOU POSTED THE ARTICLE!!! 😲

8 minutes ago, Troy said:

This is a surprising statement.  You mean don't read the likes of Toni Morrison, Bernice Mcfadden, Chimamanda Adichie?  I was really focused on literary fiction in my argument


OMG What part did you miss when I said I don't read LITERARY FICTION!!!

 

10 minutes ago, Troy said:

Why is my simple case so hard to comprehend?  

I don't know it seems that you continue to miss your own point.  LOL

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As far as the definition of "Apathy" you are unnecesary mincing words.

 

When I wrote, " I was really focused on literary fiction in my argument" that was a typo.  What meant to write was, "I was really not focused on literary fiction in my argument". 

 

Still I'm surprised to read that you don't read Morrison.  You should try Beloved, it is MUCH better than the film and a great read.  

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20 minutes ago, Troy said:

As far as the definition of "Apathy" you are unnecesary mincing words.

 

@Troy  I deal in words - so there's no such thing - apathy has a very specific meaning - and therefore doesn't apply to me. 

When I say I'm NOT interested or there is lack of interest in a  genre - There's a passion connected to why that is the case.  I find literary fiction extremely boring.... there's no apathy...I'm extremely passionate about my aversion to it. I want more and better than black people's sorrow and heartbreak - I can read that in the daily news.   I haven't even seen the movie "Beloved" 😲
 

20 minutes ago, Troy said:

When I wrote, " I was really focused on literary fiction in my argument" that was a typo.  What meant to write was, "I was really not focused on literary fiction in my argument". 

 

Well you had me for a moment.   I thought I could follow your line of thinking. When you posted that article Richard Wright to JAY Z -  I thought wow!  How insightful!  But now that literary fiction is off the table - I got nothing.  I don't know what you're talking about.

Yes, you've lost me. 
 

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Does the lack of authentic reading matter about  middle-aged rank and file black men have anything to do with this group, itself, not being noted  for being avid readers of any genre?  If there was a spate of books written by black men about everyday invisible black men, would these everyday  invisible black men buy and read these books? i doubt it. The chances of black women buying and reading these books are much higher.  

 

TV and movies fill the void that exists in the publishing world when it comes to middle-aged black men, who are too bogged down with being black and middle-aged that reading books that mirror their prosaic lifestyles pales in comparison to the escapism offered by the media.  

 

Sad but true, but English Lit courses and posterity are the prime audiences for literary fiction about a breed that has no self-awareness. 

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Pimp by Iceberg Slim. I don't think you can find many middle age black men that  haven't read it. 

So yeah there's a market 

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9 hours ago, Cynique said:

would these everyday  invisible black men buy and read these books? i doubt it. The chances of black women buying and reading these books are much higher. 

 

@Cynique that is a reasonable question.  However we do know that Black men will not read novels written for women in great numbers.  Before E. Lynn Harris and Terry McMillan began selling books out of the trunks of their cars, mainstream publishing did not think Black people of any demographic read enough to risk publishing books written by and featuring Black people.  

 

If you only make poop flavored ice cream, you can't use that as a reason to justify that there is no market for ice cream. 

 

As Del said Iceberg Slim was a very popular author and is one of the top selling authors on the website -- and he died almost 30 years ago!

 

@Delano, why on Earth would you ask me if I read Beloved?  What is that about?! Please tell explain the motivation for that question.  I read the book even before I started AALBC.

 

 

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12 hours ago, Delano said:

Neil Tyson DeGrasse

 

@Delano  You do know Tyson is Neil's surname?

 

Neil-deGrasse-Tyson.jpg

  https://aalbc.com/authors/author.php?author_name=Neil+deGrasse+Tyson

1 hour ago, Troy said:

 

If you only make poop flavored ice cream, you can't use that as a reason to justify that there is no market for ice cream. 

 

@Troy , Yes you can if people buy it.  This alerts the manufacturer that there's a market for ice cream.  So, now they have to test to see if there are enough people in the ice cream market willing to make other flavors popular.  

 

We know there is a market for books.  So a publisher has to determine if there's a market for books about rank and file middle-aged black men.

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5 hours ago, Delano said:

Pimp by Iceberg Slim. I don't think you can find many middle age black men that  haven't read it. 

So yeah there's a market 

i question this.  i think if you took a survey today, not that many middle aged black men will have read this book.  Most of those who did read it would be past middle age.  Also, this book was not a literary work of fiction but was an extraordinary autobiograhy written by someone who was anything but a non-descript invisible black man. 

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2 hours ago, Cynique said:

Also, this book was not a literary work of fiction but was an extraordinary autobiograhy written by someone who was anything but a non-descript invisible black man. 

 

@Cynique nope, definitely not an invisible man... Some writers and readers alike reference his work like it is a companion piece to "The Art of War."   Funny thing, I'm all for woman empowerment but for some reason Pimp doesn't offend me - I think it's the raw emotion he puts forth about the battle of not letting his emotions get the best of him - even though at times it appears he wears his heart on his sleeve.

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