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Book Review :: Black on Black by Daniel Black

Black on Black by Daniel Black book cover image

Guest Post by Kevin Brown

In his collection of essays Black on Black, Daniel Black takes a different approach to Blackness than many contemporary writers. Rather than focusing on the systemic racism so prevalent in American society, he takes that reality for granted, then turns his attention to a celebration of Blackness. He celebrates Black female directors, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the Black church, and activists and writers ranging from Frederick Douglass to Toni Morrison. Most of all, he centers his essays around self-love in the Black community, as he wants to spotlight the resilience and brilliance of that community, as his subtitle shows. He goes even further and celebrates LGBTQ+ Black resilience, as they battle AIDS, as well as those within and outside of their race. However, his book is not just unvarnished praise, as he also questions the institutions of power, especially the church and HBCUs, wanting them to be better. A superficial reading makes Daniel Black sound like Booker T. Washington—especially when he argues about the failure of integration—but a closer reading shows him to be more Malcolm X. He wants those who are White or straight or cisgender to see the beauty of Blackness and queerness, but he also wants his community to build on their brilliance, to grow even more beautiful.

Black on Black by Daniel Black. Hanover Square Press, January 2023.

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.

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