Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

A Young Black Man's Education

eBook - 2016
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New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
How do you learn to be a black man in America? For young black men today, it means coming of age during the presidency of Barack Obama. It means witnessing the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, and too many more. It means celebrating powerful moments of black self-determination for LeBron James, Dave Chappelle, and Frank Ocean.

In Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, Mychal Denzel Smith chronicles his own personal and political education during these tumultuous years, describing his efforts to come into his own in a world that denied his humanity. Smith unapologetically upends reigning assumptions about black masculinity, rewriting the script for black manhood so that depression and anxiety aren't considered taboo, and feminism and LGBTQ rights become part of the fight. The questions Smith asks in this book are urgent--for him, for the martyrs and the tokens, and for the Trayvons that could have been and are still waiting.

Publisher: New York : Nation Books, 2016
ISBN: 9781568585291
Branch Call Number: Overdrive eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource


From Library Staff

What does it mean to grow up in a world where the deaths of young Black men who look like you are caught on camera and televised around the world? Smith, his title calling back to Ralph Ellison, explores how his generation is having to re-write the script and discover new ways of living in the wo... Read More »

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Oct 17, 2018

"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in rage almost all the time."-James Baldwin
America's deep-seated racism and white supremacy should be a surprise to no one, but apparently it took the election of an inexperienced, xenophobic, petulant, rich, white dude to bring it to many white liberals' attention. Maybe read a book. Try this one by Nation writer, activist, and social critic Mychal Denzel Washington, which while discussing his life, it's more concerned with racial issues at large. His interests range from hip-hop to basketball to politics, and he finds something insightful and provocative to say about all of them. Also check out "Between the World and Me," "You Can't Touch My Hair," and "When They Call You a Terrorist."

SPL_Liz Nov 17, 2017

Smith deconstructs his experience becoming a Black man in America, something he didn't expect to happen. He invites the reader to see the world through his eyes, to watch his perspective change as he is influenced by teachers, parents, the media, and public figures. His analysis of the role of Black figures in public life is insightful, his chapter on mental health was discomforting, but what really makes this book stand out to me is his ability to speak through a lens of intersectionality. He emphasizes the need to recognize the role women have played (and continue to play) in the struggle for Black liberation. He recognizes the importance of honouring the lives of gay Black men who were taken by violence. It's an insightful piece and an integral read for those wishing to understand what it means to be Black in America.

Oct 13, 2017

While this book is part memoir, the best parts of this book are the chapters on intersectionality. Mychal Denzel Smith shows how he views the world as a young, black man in America, but then he looks outside himself to see how racism has affected many different parts of society. He writes about the treatment of African-American women and LGBT people of color in America. He also looks at the way mental health care is not readily available, and the effects that has had on African-American communities. Towards the end of the book he looks at the politics of respectability, and how disastrous and unfair that line of thinking is.

SPL_Shauna Feb 05, 2017

If you read and loved Ta-Nahisi Coates' *Between the World and Me*, *Invisible Man* is a must read. Where Coates interrogates race in America via an open letter to his son, Smith approaches it by asking himself how he learned to be a black man in America. He uses his own experiences to fuel a reckoning that moves like lightning and pulls no punches.

It's also relentlessly intersectional, drawing in the work of bell hooks and considering questions like why we've so quickly forgotten the names of gay black men who've been murdered. *Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching* is essential reading for anyone interested social justice in North America.

Aug 02, 2016

Frequent The Nation contributor Mychal Denzel Smith's memoir not only skillfully, reflectively recounts some of the most formative experiences of his life, but also incisively examines the evolving national dialogue about race. Within this framework, he's able to consider the deeper perspective of a dialogue that assumes a black male, when in fact there are implications for gender, sexual orientation, mental health, and other marginalizing attributes. He dexterously weaves personal stories with analysis and criticism, creating a taut narrative that is at once a timely perspective and a timeless, essential thread in the highly contentious national dialogue around race.

On a personal note, I know that peers who agree with his perspective will love it, and, much like me, gain new facets to their perspective, but it is one of the few books that I wish those who claim to be "color-blind" in terms of race and [attribute]-blind would take the time to read this book. I truly hope it will change and further the dialogue in meaningful ways. If any book can it's this one.

Jul 04, 2016

Excellent interview with the author by Marcus Harrison Green of South Seattle Emerald:


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