Nathan McCall Critical Essays

Introduction

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Nathan McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America

Born in 1955(?), McCall is an American journalist and autobiographer.

Taking its title from a Marvin Gaye song, Makes Me Wanna Holler (1994) is McCall's shocking autobiography about growing up black in twentieth-century America. In praising the work, critics have cited McCall's honest attempt at understanding his own life as well as the lack of hope and self-esteem he sees within many sectors of the African-American community. McCall, who was raised in an established, working-class suburb in Portsmouth, Virginia, and later spent three years in prison for armed robbery, argues that white domination is responsible for many of the problems in black society. Although contested by some critics, McCall asserts that racism is ultimately to blame for what he describes as black self-hatred. This self-hatred, he claims, can lead to everything from random violence and widespread drug addiction to poor communication and failed relationships between black men and women. In an interview with Enrica Gadler, McCall explains: "If you're walking around with all this anger on your chest, you're going to release it somewhere. If most of the anger is about being black and about being rejected, then over time you can begin to hate blacks…. So the thing to do if you have all this hatred in you, and all this self-hatred, is to inflict it on someone else, someone else who is black—which, if you think about it, is a form of suicide."