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'Post Black: How A New Generation is Redefining African American Identity'

Posted: 03/18/10 03:45 PM ET

This is not a book about despair in Black America.

In this book, I will not detail every pathological condition that ever existed in African American life. You won't read about the "endangered black male," "the destruction of the black family," or "the welfare queen." It is not a diatribe on the proliferation of drug kingpins, crack addicts, gang violence, or unemployment in the inner cities. Nor is it a bashing of the single mother, a study of the absent father, or a condemnation of troubled youth."

Not that I'm making light of these issues. These are grave matters. But there are people dedicated to keeping these poignant topics on the kitchen table of America's hearts and at the forefront of its remote control consciousness.

They are realities, make no mistake about it. But they are not the only realities in black life.

This book is not about the dearth of "good black men." It's not a literary lynching of "the gold digger."It's not a broadside criticism of pretty women in videos . Or platinum grills on me. This book is not about rims. This book is not an ode to "the good old days." It is not a waxing nostalgic about the days before desegregation , the mythical days when real community values ruled and everyone lived holier than though lives and marched to the beat of freedom. Nor is this a sentimental dedication to the thrills of thug life. It's not about flashy pimps or smooth-talking hustlers, ladies with telltale hearts,or men with eyes that kill.

This book is not a call for black love.
Nor is it a call for black leadership.
And I'm not asking you to be a role model.
This book is not about rap icons or sports figures.
THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT RAP ICONS OR SPORTS FIGURES
This book will not blame hip-hop for societies ills
It won't nitpick at civil rights failures (I'm not an ingrate).
Nor will this book uphold heroes you already know about. Heroes you should know about.
I will not use black people as the poster children for America's issues.
I will not conclude that prayer is the answer and yes, I go to church.
And I won't recommend that Bill Cosby, Oprah and Michael Jordan get together and solve the world's problems. I won't explore conspiracy theories. Some have merit; I just won't discuss them.

I won't define the word "ghetto." I won't define "life in the hood." And just in case you're confused, this book is not black erotica. This book is not street lit. I won't question what happened to that money collected at the Million Man March. And I won't mention O.J.

So what, you ask, is a book about African Americans about if it's not discussing any of the above?

I'll get back to that.

(-Excerpt from the Introduction of "Post Black: How A New Generation is Redefining African American Identity")


What is Post Black?

Post Black speaks to the new diversity and complex identity in African American culture. Whereas the social dynamics of decades before required a uniform black American identity to battle impending social injustice, the new opportunities afforded the generations of today as a result of victories won and fallen barriers have given rise to a growing diversity that some are enthused about and others are not.

Meet the "invisibles" aka a Gen X and Y assemblage of young professionals, black immigrants, the GLBT community, spiritualists, those of multicultural identity, and non hip-hop artists.

A stalwart resistance by both African Americans and the public at large to recognizing this emerging world within the African American community is disturbing.

The theory seems to be that to focus on any innovation or so called eccentricities in black life undermines the hard fought efforts to eradicate inequality. The battle is not over, so to speak. However, I feel that the larger dilemma for many is reconciling just what it means to have tremendous achievements among some countered by chronic challenges among others when black identity has always been couched in the collective.

While I hope that Post Racial America is on the horizon, we aren't there yet. We are in a Post Black era, a time in which the complex diversity within the African American community in the midst of increased opportunity must be recognized and some synergy uncovered.

President Barack Obama is changing the landscape of black identity in the U.S. However, his election is one of many factors that have reshaped the notion of identity for over a decade. My hope is that "Post Black" will serve as a framework to find synergy within the diversity. Identity is an issue very dear to the African American community. But in this era of rapid change, I've found that many people are reevaluating their identity. What does it mean to be a woman today? A feminist? A man? Latino? Gay? Or simply American? These questions and more are the cornerstone of the new century.

Ytasha L. Womack is a filmmaker, journalist and author of "Post Black: How A New Generation is Redefining African American Identity" (Lawrence Hill Books). She explores identity in the blog www.postblackthebook.blogspot.com.