Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America by Nathan McCallNathan McCalls Makes Me Wanna Holler tells the story of McCalls childhood in a predominantly black neighborhood, an area prone to gang-related activities. The book is set in the late-1900s during McCalls teenage years, when he and his friends were transitioning from naive youth to gangsters. An African American teen who wants nothing more than to be the baadest guy in the neighborhood, Nathan McCall finds himself robbing strangers, shooting white homes, and fighting rival gangs. McCall feels cool despite the morally wrong actions he commits, a feeling he later shames in his adulthood as a journalist of the Washington Post. The book chronicles the life of Nathan McCall and the trials of other similar young African American males growing up in a racist community, told from a perspective unknown to many.
To pick one favorite scene in this book would be impossible. My book is littered with post-its on at least one in every ten pages. I read about the unfair treatment that the whites inflicted upon the African Americans, and the suppressed anger that the blacks held in return, in fear that they would lose their jobs. His concise yet detailed descriptions of his neighborhood and friends painted a clear picture in my head, making the reading process smooth and unquestionable. A reserved Asian teenager oblivious to the extent of the racial discrimination in America, I found myself reading and re-reading passages that revealed the inner-thoughts of an African American who endured the unthinkable adversities at a young age.
In one particular scene in the book, Nathan McCall describes the importance of respect in his culture. In an ordinary white American community, respect is often gained through ones social status. In Nathans community, respect is gained by publicly beating up a rival gang member, or in other words, by fear. Nathan explains why respect is such a big issue in his culture: the humiliation that African Americans faced from the whites dug a hole so deep into their souls that any sliver of self-respect is to be highly valued. In other words, the African Americans desire to prove their potential to both the whites and fellow blacks continually occupies their minds, causing them to act the way they do. As an example, Nathan recounts his memory of a high school dropout, Scobie-D, a highly-respected but crazed man who often acted on impulse, killing for no apparent reason. By beating up an innocent student in the school cafeteria, Scobie-D gained the respect of the many bystanders who witnessed the incident.
This explanation to why African Americans are usually perceived as trouble makers soon became clear to me. The previous notion of African Americans as a less-civilized group dissipated, and I was left with the realization that it is not by choice that they are stereotyped as ruffians and gangsters, but the pressure to be respected by his peers and whites. Their limited opportunities and racial discrimination restricted many blacks from becoming successful. Especially the racial discrimination. Without the presence of the judgmental whites, African Americans could have been able to work freely towards a better future.
Ultimately, the story of Nathan McCalls life is a story of the African Americans struggling with racial discrimination, suppressing their bitterness towards the white people, and emerging from the violent past into a world of success. It all adds up to a tale of understanding the adversities in which they face, problems that are usually observed from the perspective of the discriminators--the whites. Makes Me Wanna Holler tells that story very well, shedding light to not only the lives of these African American families whose voices were swallowed under the preset racial remarks, but also to the ignorance that most of America has.
I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, especially to those who have never experienced racism to a high degree. Makes Me Wanna Holler opened up my eyes to the adversities that the modern-day African Americans face, helping me to understand the intentions of the horrifying crimes they commit. Following McCalls life from the hood to the prison yard and seeing him discover the light outside the seemingly endless cycle of gang-related activities and prison, I cheered him on in his successes and mourned over the losses of his friends and innocence. When he emerged from prison as a changed man, I empathized with his feelings of confusion and self-worth. Brilliantly written, capturing the emotions and trials of young African Americans in the mid-1900s, Makes Me Wanna Holler is a book for both the discriminators and judged alike, and is guaranteed to leave the reader seeing life with a different perspective.
Marvin Gaye - I Want You (1976)
With President Clinton and practically every other politician in the country focused on the growing concern about violence, an extraordinary new memoir by Nathan McCall provides a riveting, first-person account of how even a bright young black man from an intact family can be lured into a life of crime. McCall overcame his own youthful history of violence, arrests and prison to become a reporter for The Washington Post. His book underscores the power of envy, frustration and rage in the making of a street criminal. When we ripped off an ice cream truck in the early 's, it was just part of an extended binge, a reflection of a shiftless mind-set of stealing and hanging out that the fellas and I acquired as we grew older. Sometimes, we spent whole days standing on the side of the 7-Eleven, talking, gambling and begging coins from customers to buy cheap wine. Rather than go home and eat lunch and dinner, we'd steal food from the store, sending one dude inside to rip off bread, another to take bologna, and a third to pick up sodas. We even stole cookies and ice cream for dessert.