(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

“The pain is in the eyes,” Madhubuti writes, of young black men who are “lost and abandoned . . . sons of Afrika, once strong and full of the hope America lied about . . . now knee-less, voice-broken, homeless, forgotten. . . .” Writing with a bitter candor, Madhubuti concentrates his anger into the forcefully rational tones of a classical rhetorician as he begins his consideration of black manhood with a historical evaluation. Using considerable statistical evidence, informed opinion, serious scholarship, and incisive observation, Madhubuti draws a grim picture of a bleak reality that is familiar but nevertheless disturbing. This is the foundation for the critique that follows—an indictment of both the white policy of “terrorization” and cultural destruction and an unsparing, rigorous examination of the failures within the African American community that have prevented any real attempt at amelioration. “I am among these men,” Madhubuti declares, and it is his pain and love for his own community that compels his honest and unsettling evaluation.

He is insistent that “poverty is slavery” and that chattel slavery has been transformed into the enslavement of economic helplessness. Because he is convinced that, though there are “some white men of good will,” the majority of white people will not undertake “life-giving and life-saving corrections,” Madhubuti contends that any solution to these problems must come from the African American community. Since American history is a record of white supremacist policies pursued from a Eurocentric standpoint, he argues, African Americans must be responsible for their own survival. As a first step, Madhubuti feels it necessary to dispel the nonsense espoused by people such as the tycoon Donald Trump, whom Madhubuti quotes as having claimed, “If I were starting out today, I would love to be a well-educated Black because I really believe they do have an actual advantage today.” Madhubuti also criticizes the defensive delusions and hypocrisies of the so-called leaders of the African American world. Madhubuti believes that various black celebrities, hustlers,...

(The entire section is 874 words.)