From William’s childhood home of one-story ranch house, his father made a collection of books more than any library could hold. His father used some of these volumes to operate an academic prep service, while the other books were used in his never-ending quest for wisdom. William, as a teenager, had a completely different pursuit from his father; he had the thirst for money, hoe and clothes. More striking feature was his Medusa-faced Versace sunglasses and the companion of a heavy gold-medallion hanging down his neck, whenever he styled up his speech to fit into the intoxicating hip-hop culture prevailing in the communities. Often, his childhood upbringing was influenced a lot by hip-hop and he could even cite the lyrics of Tupac and Nas songs. These were the necessities of the hip-hop youth who were also showing their prowess in order to “keep their woman in line”. Eventually, William seems to justify his thesis that the problem of “hip-hop culture” in America is pinned on US black communities, which traces down the ongoing racism by the white communities who seem to maintain their prejudices based on these claims.
The aforementioned descriptions are relevant when reviewing the book, “Losing My Cool,” written by Thomas Chatterton Williams. As Williams indicates in his book, his father, Pappy, grew up in the isolated South, hiding in the closet away from the hip-hop culture so that he could read deep into the wisdom of Plato and Aesop. He had a different destiny in mind for his son. For years, Williams juggled between “keeping it real” in front of his friends and, studying books under the influence of his strict father’s tutelage. From the cover of the book, the author could not have had a better title than this one since it has been introduced at a better time when there is a cultural war between the hip-hop culture and the American lifestyle among the young generations. Therefore, the aim of this paper will be to give a report of the content of the book, while quoting relevant lines from the book to back up my claims.
Losing My Cool
The book demonstrates that the African-Americans are living in a culture that influences them to imitate, or even become criminals. The author shows that such a stance is worthy than meaningful possibilities of other lifestyles such as his father’s morale standards. Thus, William examines the seductive power of the black hip-hop culture, by describing how his peers even from a younger age, refuse to read books stating that, “it is uncool.” The pivotal focus of this book is in his description of the misogynist, superficial atmosphere, where girls and boys idolize famous rappers such as Tupac and exchange sex for material favors. For example, he is forced to hit his girlfriend when he discovers that she is having an affair, and proceed to start a fight with the other guy as a way of saving the face and to have sex with his girlfriend again.
These experiences are no doubt a quality work of non-fiction of the symptoms of the black culture. Needless to say, the experiences have been the source of promotion of sexism and the treatment of women as “just bitches,” which are mentioned as problems of the broader culture in America. The author does not err when he mentions Eminem, whose iconic lyrics involve treating women as less than humans, and only as accessories to rappers kingdom of sex, money and riches. Sadly, William makes it so easy to pin the blame on black people, yet the prevalence of the horrific and the destructive values stem from the reality of the disparity in demands between the white and the black communities. More so, the systematic discrimination by the whites has seen the black people living in states of unemployment and as the victims of imprisonment. The reality of the blame-game of whites against the blacks lurks in the background of this book. The hip-hop social misfit for the black people has lead to them having high stress levels, dying sooner, and getting lower level of education than the white community.
Williams explains openly the racist view by using his choice of clothes. He explains that “shirts and sweaters and trousers or jeans that fit” had to be the sagging jeans or the basketballs shorts. He explains that “he wanted to look like a man and not a kid” among other kids ascribing to the hip-hop culture. He goes on to mention that he did not want to look like “he was about to stick up a 7-eleven.” On other words, Williams uses theses expression to show how hip-hop culture was compelling the youths to dress in skanky looks so that they would not be seen as silly or uncomfortable.
Do not be judgmental of Williams’s use of vulgar language when he is describing the effect of hip-hop culture in our lives today. Rather, he is right to shed a light into the lives of other people, who are living in the damaged and limited social context of anti-intellectualism, sexism and materialism. Nonetheless, William writes to awaken us from our obscurity so that we can understand the origin of the problems pinned on the black communities. In the United States, it is a problem of the broader culture and not a black problem. For any reason whatsoever, we are continuing to blames for both the white and the black communities, but we never reach an affirmative decision to justify our blame for the decaying society. Therefore, if we can’t blame the black culture for the escalating hip-hop culture, then it should be worthwhile to investigate the entire discrimination claims happening in America today.
Williams, T.C. (2011). Losing my cool: Love, literature, and a black man’s escape from the
crowd. New York, NY: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated.