America: The Black Point Of View, An Investigation And Study Of The White People Of America And Western Europe, and The Autobiography Of An American Ghetto Boy, The 1950s And 1960s, by Tony Rose (Amber Books, 2015, Phoenix, Arizona, 545 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
November 28, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - The title itself is a mouthful, but make no mistake, this thought-provoking book by Tony Rose, Publisher/Editor and Editorial Director of Amber Communications Group, Inc., and the 2013 44th Annual NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Literature, is hard hitting and frank. Rose pulls no punches, as he tells his story the way he knows and believes it to be true. This book is raw and compelling, and as a matter of fact, Rose feels the need to forewarn us by stating on its cover; “Warning: This Book Has Strong Language, Explicit Violence, Explicit And Extreme Sexual Content.”
This book really can be viewed as two books in one, Rose’s investigation of White America, and an analysis of himself and upbringing through a turbulent time and circumstances. He allows the reader to look inside his psyche, which puts the overall story of this book in perspective. In essence, this is a Horatio Alger story, a young black boy from the housing projects of America to the recipient of one of the most prestigious of awards, the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. It is a story truly to take heed of, once you get around the rough edges.
In my humble opinion, and having reviewed more than 175 books, with all due respect to the author, this really should be two books. Rose counters this by stating in a recent email to me: “I found out early on that this was not going to be an easy book to write. I wanted to write an autobiography about my early childhood and teen years and the horrific murders, pimps, gangsters, drug dealers, drug addicts, rapists, child abusers and thieves, that I grew up with, lived with, called family, and write about in The Autobiography of an American Ghetto Boy. I soon realized that I could not write about me as an African American child and teen living in America, without writing about White America, what it was like when I was a child and teen living in America, without writing about White America, what it was like when I was a child, how it shaped the people around me and what it is like to now live in America, which for tens of millions of African American children is horrific, terrifying, and not so very different than it was for me as a child.” Still, and with all due respect to Rose, I strongly feel that the 545 pages he put in telling this story, would have been more effective by telling it in two separate books. I say that from the vantage point of my own experience, having lived next to the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago.
The author states from a historical perspective in his book; “Known Presidents of the United States of America who raped Black women who were slaves: President George Washington; President Thomas Jefferson; President Andrew Jackson; President William Henry Harrison; President John Tyler; President James Polk; President Zachary Taylor.” He also includes in his book Presidents of the United States of America who were slave holders, racists, segregationists, Ku Klux Klan members or former Ku Klux Klan members, such as President Woodrow Wilson.
Rose further goes on to state his justification in combining his “Study of White America” with his “The Autobiography of an American Ghetto Boy”: “I also wanted to write about what it was like for a child and young teenager to grow up in the real ghetto, the projects, and come from a dysfunctional and violent family where contrary to what poor Black people are always depicted as; there was no God, no church on Sunday, no marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., and no singing in the church choir.” I know very well from whence the author speaks, for I have a similar background!
One might ask, why a need to have an investigation and study of the white people of America and Western Europe? Perhaps in this day and time of Black Lives Matter, we need answers to a fundamental question and analysis as to why racism in America continues to raise its ugly head? Rose seems to think he has the answers, and goes back to the dawn of time itself to state his claim. He actually does give food for thought in this book.
Perhaps Rose might want us to closely examine why a white police officer (Jason Van Dyke) in Chicago would be charged with first-degree murder for shooting black 17-year-old teenager Laquan McDonald, 9 times in the back;
Perhaps Rose might want us to closely examine why a white police officer (Michael Brelo) in Cleveland would stand on the hood of a black man Timothy Russell’s dilapidated 1979 Chevy Malibu car, after a 20 minute chase through Cleveland and east Cleveland on November 29, 2012 in which 62 police cars and more than 100 police officers would fire 137 shots at Russell and his passenger Malissa Williams, and Brelo would fire the last 15 shots from the hood of the car. Brelo fired three magazines and reloaded his weapon the second time from the hood of Russell’s car before bending over, gripping his gun with two hands, and firing at the unarmed Russell and Williams from point-blank range. At trial, the judge in the Brelo case, Judge John P. O’Donnell, white, would find Michael Brelo not guilty on two counts of Voluntary Manslaughter;
Perhaps Rose might also want us to closely examine why unarmed black men in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York City and other cities across the country were all killed at the hands of white policeman since Barack Obama became the first black president and although President Obama presides over the U.S. Department of Justice, they could/would not find these white officers culpable.
Significant in his book, Rose states: “White people point to President Barack Obama as a, see how much you have attained, you should be satisfied. But President Barack Obama is not from the blood of slaves. His mother was a White woman and his father a pure bred African from Kenya with not one drop of White blood in him. I’ll only be satisfied when there have been, two, then three, then four and then maybe five, African American Presidents of the United States of America, all from the blood of American Slaves.
Rose further goes on to state in America: The Black Point of View: “As I said in my book ‘African American History in the United States of America – An Anthology – From Africa to President Barack Obama, Volume One’, Because of the past horrors of American History, those four African American people, living in the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC: President Barack Obama, The First Lady Michelle Obama and their children, Malia Ann Obama and Natasha Obama are the four bravest people to ever live there and the four bravest people in the United States of America.”’
Perhaps the most disturbing and unsettling passage in this 545 page book, is when the author uses the word “Nigger” 64 consecutive times to describe an incident and confrontation he had with a group of whites when he was a little kid. I see no reason for that, if only to get his point across! This will be the last time that I will ever use this most hateful and vile word in the American language, and I am quite surprised that Rose would use it to such extent. It is as if black people are buying in to this most hateful and vile word, as a form of sick and reverse psychology. And to think, some blacks are justifying the use of it by saying it is a term of endearment. Please!
Rose refers to his mother in this book as “Monster”, due to the abuse and mistreatment by her as a child, while idolizing his father, whom he describes as; “My father was a heroin addict, as well as a pimp, murderer, gangster and button man (Hit Man) for the Mafia.” He even provided me with a photo of himself taken with his father when he was a little child for this review, while excluding one of his mother. Clearly, there are some misplaced values!
Something I could never say in a book, particularly in regard to my mother, is Rose stating: “At seven, I hated my mother; at eight, I wanted to kill my mother; at nine, I was planning on how I would kill her; at ten, I had no soul left; at eleven, I had no idea what love was; at twelve, I was dead to anything; and then she stopped. Because an old boyfriend named Randy got out of jail after serving fifteen years for murder, called my grandmother, came over and moved in with us.”
Rose further admits in regard to his mother, after allegedly being tortured and abused: “When I take care of my mother today, I know what a woman must feel who is forced to care of, in some way, an aging father who sexually abused her from the age of six to twelve and then it stopped; and you are told to never tell anyone. Well, it’s the same thing to me, I am taking care of my abuser.”
To continue this disdain that Rose expresses towards his mother, which borders on being pathological, he states in his book: “The horror of being called a child molester, a pedophile at the age of six-and-a-half-years-old, being accused, beaten and tortured for it and other things made up by a schizophrenic, mentally-unstable mother, over and over again, until I was twelve-years-old, would stay with me until this very day, this very second.” Therein might describe the overall theme of this book, and attributing white racism with the perceived dysfunction in the black family. In further regard to Rose’s reference to President Obama, the youtube video of President Obama’s now famous Father’s Day speech at my former Church in Chicago, the Apostolic Church of God, says a lot about parental responsibility here.
Rose further goes on to state: “There have been apologies from my mother through the years, but not one person in my family, except my sister, has ever talked to me about what happened to me and how it affected my life. And although the man I am now has accepted my mother’s apologies and through the years I have done all I could to help her and hope for her love. The little boy inside of me won’t, can’t and will never accept her apologies. Because he sees and knows, no matter what she says, that she has not changed at all and is still an evil monster.” Sad! Can we really attribute all this to the fragmenting of the black family due to our being brought here on slave ships and treated as less than human?
Rose is not alone in buying in to this dysfunction attributed to slavery and the perceived dysfunction within the black family brought about by the residue of slavery, as now-deceased white Texas Pastor Charles R. Moore actually set himself on fire and died as a result of it. Pastor Moore is quoted in his suicide note as stating: “Many African-Americans were lynched around here,” he wrote. “I have decided to join them by giving my body to be burned,” he wrote. In his suicide note, he revealed he was ‘haunted’ by racism and hoped his death would inspire social reform. The 79-year-old Moore detailed the discrimination that troubled him in his suicide note, by stating: “When I was about 10 years old, some friends and I were walking down the road toward the creek to catch some fish, when a man called ‘Uncle Billy’ stopped us and called us into his home for a drink of water – but his real purpose was to cheerily tell us about helping to kill ‘n—s’ and put their heads up on a pole,” he wrote. He continued: “A section of Grande Saline was (maybe still is) called ‘pole town,’ where the heads were displayed. It was years later before I knew what the name meant.” Moore proceeded to pour gasoline on himself in a strip mall parking lot and set himself on fire.
The two separate stories in this book, “A study of White America” and “The Autobiography of an American Ghetto Boy”, although insightful and compelling, seems to this writer too complex to tie together in one book. Thus, my further thought of it being more effective and coherent in two separate books. Make no mistake about it, Rose has given us an examination of racism and a history lesson about America that needs to be told. See Rose video here.
Dennis Moore is the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, and also the writer of the book review for “Obama Talks Back”, which Tony Rose would subsequently win the NAACP Image Award in Literature. Mr. Moore is also the author of a book about Chicago Politics; “The City That Works: Power, Politics, and Corruption in Chicago”. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.