Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 746
Ron Stallworth's memoir, Black Klansman, "is an amazing true story that reads like a crime thriller" (Macmillan Publishers). The New York Times Bestseller has received praise from critics and readers alike. Stallworth tells us about his undercover investigation into the Ku Klux Klan while also reflecting on the state of racism in America.
Stallworth starts right off by describing the ad he found in the paper for information on the Ku Klux Klan. He wrote a note, thinking it would turn out to be a prank or that he would simply receive a brochure or some automated response. Instead, he received a personal phone call. Stallworth, the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, now had to play the part of a white man looking to join the cause of white supremacists:
I knew from being called a n*gger many times in my life, from small confrontations in everyday life that escalated to an ugly rhetoric, to being on the job when I was giving someone a ticket or making an arrest, that when a white person would say that to me, the whole dynamic would change. By saying “n*gger” he’d let me know he thought he was inherently better than me. That word was a way of claiming some false power. That is the language of hate, and now, having to pretend to be a white supremacist, I knew to use that language in reverse.
This quote is important because it gives us information on what Stallworth's experience was like as a black detective and black man in America. It also gives us insight into Stallworth's thought process. This quote is from the beginning of the book, and already we can see how Stallworth is going to play the part and use his personal experiences to further his undercover investigation.
In order for this to work, Stallworth needs a white detective to pose as him for any in-person meetings. Stallworth recruits his partner, Chuck, for the plan:
"They are planning burnings, white-only charity drives, recruitment efforts, and we need to know what else."
He started laughing. "A black cop infiltrating the Klan? This is nuts. Won't they know that you're black?"
"That's why we're going to be on the exact same page. I'll be listening to everything you and he say through the mic. And you'll be aware of everything I say to him on the phone. I'm the voice, you're the face."
"This is just about the craziest thing I've heard. I'm in," said Chuck through his wide smile.
I'm a fan of this passage because of Chuck's last line. Chuck is happy to help, although admitting what some of us might be thinking: this sounds crazy. "I'm the voice, you're the face," is the title of this chapter, and it explains the whole partnership.
Stallworth's writing is suspenseful, reflective, and funny at times:
The phone call ended, and we...
(The entire section contains 746 words.)
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