On March 20, 2009, grab a copy of Family Affair: What It Means to be African-American Today and turn to page 235…then go back and start from the beginning, lol.
I am pleased to say that I am one of the contributors to my boy Gil Robertson’s latest anthology on the Black experience in a bookstore near you. Congrats Gil and to all of the contributors!
What It Means to Be African-American Today
Edited by Gil L. Robertson, IV
About the Book
In committing to the idea of uplifting the present while rightfully cherishing the past, Editor Gil L. Robertson IV, hopes Family Affair: What It Means To Be African American Today – the follow up to his bestselling 2006 anthology Not In My Family – will help transcend a message of responsibility to future generations. A celebration of the African American legacy, Family Affair successfully bridges the divide between young and old by providing the platform for much needed dialogue. With upwards of 70 authors whose memories date back from daily laborious sharecropping duties, all the way up to the glorious election of Barack Obama, the book’s balance is groundbreaking.
In the wake of an historic presidential election that voices of Family Affair ring they have experienced change Unsurprisingly, as the United States has spiraled out of control under one government, Robertson found ‘hope’ and added inspiration to compile the necessary elements for Family Affair as a new regime assumed a now historic takeover. A veteran lifestyle journalist with regular philanthropic tendencies, Robertson has yearned to compile such a book for over two decades, as he saw no definitive text that spoke to African Americans as a group.
“I really think that as we come into a new millennium, century and the beginning of a new transformative socio-political moment in our country’s history, it’s important for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of slaves to be able to readily interpret who and what we are today,” said the author of the nationally syndicated Robertson Treatment.
Robertson allowed that the success of Not In My Family helped instigate the need for a book that dealt with the identity of a people. He further emphasized the need to deal with issues such as respect, health, family and community, among others.
The independence and strength of African Americans, he noted, has and always will define an indestructible spirit, one that has outlasted centuries of brutality: “You could look at it like we’re the descendants of slaves or you could choose to look at it like we’re a resilient people who were able to survive a 90 day journey in the hole of a ship.
“To survive that journey then go through the rigors of slavery, not to mention Jim Crow, reconstruction and all the physical and mental challenges we’ve had to carry as a people, is improbable. But we are still here.”
Given the myriad of African American personalities to choose from, Robertson decided on developing a number of ‘talking points,’ which eventually led him to the people that brought Family Affair to life.
Beverly Johnson, who on a contemporary level was the first ever African American supermodel, is the perfect example for ‘appearance.’ Otis Moss, Reverend of Chicago’s now infamous Trinity Baptist Church, represents ‘religion.’ Thurbert Baker, the only Attorney General (Georgia) in America at present, is the definitive face for ‘politics.’ Cathy Hughes, a self-made millionaire and radio icon, embodies ‘big business’ as well as ‘single mothers’ and legendary musician Isaac Hayes, who was the son of a sharecropper and picked cotton as a youth himself, symbolizes ‘music,’ as well he should.
“We’ve consistently overcome and proven that if given the opportunity, we can be the very best,” Robertson offered with a determined tone. “Every time we’ve had to come together collectively with some sort of blueprint in hand, we’ve been able to get the job done. You can choose to look at it with the glass half empty or half full, but we have proven constantly that this glass is half-filled, practically overflowing.”
Family Affair also features original essays from the likes of Carolyn Kilpatrick, Max Siegel, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Reverend Otis Moss, Ruby Dee and a plethora of others.
A native of Los Angeles and current resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Robertson relied on much of his own experience, to mold Family Affair into a tangible entity. Ultimately, through a precarious ___ month selection and editing process, those lifetime lessons will now resonate with African Americans across the country. An array of issues that addresses class differences, educational backgrounds, sexuality, physicality, classism, racism, etc. – Robertson’s Family Affair has helped initiate a process that desperately needed a jumpstart.
“I’m just so glad people were ultimately willing to share with us as a community through this vehicle,” he said. “These are issues that are important to the community as a whole and need to be dealt with by and for the community… i.e., ‘The family,’ before we venture outdoors.
“There’s a lot of talk about engaging international conversation about race and race relations in this country, but I don’t think African Americans are ready to engage in such dialogue. We’ve got to deal with self first. [Family Affair] is basically about the community doing that. We have to exercise the same kind of discipline, due diligence and support that we have in the past.”