For someone like myself who has been reading about and listening to discussions concerning race in America for at least twenty years, it’s rare now that I come across something different. This was one of those times.
Black Victim to Black Victor is a unique look at issues many have discussed before, but from the perspective of someone who lived those experiences day to day. Without the usual academic explanations of statistics and previous attempts to explain differences in cultural or socioeconomic outcomes, Adam B. Coleman puts his arm around the people he has lived amongst his whole life, providing them with honest and incredibly personal insight. With so many “rules” around who can talk about what and when, reading Black Victim to Black Victor was incredibly refreshing in its no holds barred approach to any and all subject matters. You will find few accounts more honest and personal than this as he takes you on his intimate and international journey from victimhood to being a victor.
“Why am I told to distrust the white man when I couldn’t even depend on my black father?”
The introduction to this personal exploration is in part a list of questions, some of which set me back on my heels. They’re obvious questions that we should be asking, but questions I have not heard anyone utter out loud or in print. The remaining bulk of the book is an exploration towards the answers to those questions. Several concepts forced me to stop reading and spend time thinking, along with incredibly personal stories from his own life that vividly illustrate the need to address these questions and from where we may gain the answers.
“For many young black men that have lived a life of only feminine authority, they could feel threatened when facing masculine authority…When these men encounter authority figures, they will respect them as much as they respect their own fathers.”
The author’s ability to identify tropes and then weave several undeniable realities into “a-ha” moments is impressive. We all have heard that family structure matters, and the social studies are undeniable. But to take that and link it to everything from our relationships with our mothers, our relationships with authority, and our relationship with God takes it to a new level. Normally I would not expect this type of insight and connection from a first-time author.
“They will legitimize their actions by saying ‘they weren’t black owned’ without understanding that they were black serving.”
Written during what some have called a summer of racial reckoning after the death of George Floyd, Adam is incredibly, and surgically critical of the reactions to that incident. Chapter thirteen, “Urban Terrorists and Criminal Martyrs,” has a wonderful narrative of a young man and his thought process. The assessments of the previous chapters paint a picture of a young man whose life and death are now narrated in a way that personalizes a life of family and subsequent personal failure, up to and then beyond the grave.
“Another dead black man that is loved more when he is dead than when he was alive.”
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As devastating as it is to be pulled into a mind like this, we are not left without hope.
My favorite section of this book was simultaneously the author’s most personal revelation. Far from simply pointing out problems and paralleling those problems with personal growth experiences, we are also presented with his ideas for solutions to those very problems. In “Solution — Acceptance and Commonality,” we learn about the author’s relationship with his great Aunt Anne who served as a surrogate for his grandmother who passed on early in his life. It would be difficult for anyone with a heart to come away from this story of love, loss, acceptance and respect, without a perfect visualization of what humanity should be: people who accept each other as they are who are focused on what’s common more so than what’s different.
Since picking up this book it has been a pleasure to see Adam B. Coleman invited to ever-growing venues of people wanting to hear his message. It’s a sincere message of loving critique aimed at personal development and personal victory. A personal journey that he saw fit to share with all people seeking to learn from his mistakes, his trials, his errors, and his growth as well.
Family man who values character over color. Politically homeless, dispositionally conservative. Lover of humanity’s ability to build wisdom through the cherished words of our ancestors, and applying reasoned thought to the present.