Smith’s memoir starts with him trying to answer the question of how he defines himself as a black man in America. He finds his college years at Hampton University during Obama’s first race to the presidency help him answer this question. These years of his life causes him to evaluate respectability politics, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and the taboo of mental health in the black community that have caused him to redefine what masculinity means to him. His memoir doesn’t only ask questions of himself, but will also leave the reader asking questions of how they define their identity as well.
You cannot fix your present and future circumstances until you acknowledge and deal with your past. This is true for individuals and for our nation. This book is an attempt to explain and acknowledge the extreme racial injustice of our nation’s history, see how it still infects our current state, and offer a vision for repentance that helps us move in a new direction, eradicating the sin of white supremacy. It is a book angled at white Americans, and more specifically white Christians, that explains in depth the system that continues to discriminate against people of. All white people engage in and benefit from that system, whether they know it or not. This is an eye-opening and perspective altering read.
Nelson really grapples with what the onslaught of genetic genealogy testing really means in a social context. As a recipient of the mitochondrial DNA testing to African roots, like Nelson, it’s refreshing to witness an account that speaks to the heart of DNA testing for people of African descent—it means a possible reclamation of ties to the land from which people were taken. The work merges genetics with race, politics and identity to address exciting and ever-present concepts—reparations and reconciliation.