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Airing Dirty Laundry (1993)
If 1992 was the Year of the Woman & 1994 was the year of the Angry White Male, then this book was certainly an attempt by Ishmael Reed to make 1993 the year of the Angry Black Male. What's he angry about? mostly the commonly accepted portrait of black males in the media and among intellectual elites, & especially the black conservatives who help foster what he feels is an inaccurate image. They are "airing dirty laundry" or as he puts it: "The profitable literary scam nowadays is to pose as someone who airs unpleasant and frank facts about the black community, only to be condemned by the black community for doing so. This is the sure way to grants, awards, prizes, fellowships, and academic positions."
But these black conservatives are not alone as objects of Reed's scorn; they are joined by: George Will, Pat Buchanan, feminists, NPR, The New York Review of Books, The Color Purple, Oprah Winfrey, Desiree Washington, the FBI, Anita Hill, etc. All of them are viewed as having victimized black men, especially the "underclass", in general and specifically, Mike Tyson, Clarence Thomas & Marion Barry.
Every one of Mr. Reed's polemics is impassioned and amusing. And while he seems to have swallowed whole every crackpot conspiracy theory to come down the pike, including blaming heroin, crack and AID's on the US government, there is something ineffably wonderful about a man who can refer to Harper's, New York Times Magazine, NPR and PBS as "powerful sections of neoconservative opinion" in one breath and in the next, refer to them as bastions of feminism.
Don't get me wrong; I disagreed with almost every sentence in this book, but it was a joy to read.
-Ishmael Reed by Spring
-INTERVIEW : Ishmael Reed (Reginald Martin, Center for Book Culture)
-REVIEW : of John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead (Ishmael Reed, Washington Post)