Posts Tagged ‘education’

Powerful…full of impossible hope….Jackson’s prose has a spoken-word cadence, the language flying off the page with percussive energy…there is a warmth and a hard-won wisdom about the intersection of race and poverty in America.” – New York Times Book Review

Mitchell Jackson came to visit our boys and they were mesmerized.  He was born in Portland, Oregon to a teenage mother.  While Jackson’s biological father was absent, Jackson was co-parented by his mother’s boyfriend who was a former convict supporting himself and the family as a pimp. Around the time Jackson turned ten, his mother began using crack cocaine, an addiction that lasted into Jackson’s adulthood. Jackson meanwhile started selling crack in his teens. In 1996 he was arrested and later convicted for drug distribution. He spent 16 months in an Oregon state prison. Upon his release, Jackson—who was already a college Junior—re-enrolled in college. He earned a Bachelors of Speech Communication and retuned two years later to earn a Masters of Writing degree from Portland State University. He moved to New York and later earned an MFA from New York University.


ASANTE, MK. Buck: A Memoir. 272p. Spiegel & Grau. 2013. Tr $25. ISBN 9780812993417.  Buck e1387316282621 Truth & Responsibility

Adult/High SchoolBuck is dynamic, enlivening, and superbly written. At 12, Asante was living in “Killadephia, Pistolvannia,” admiring Uzi, his older brother with “a temper so hot you can fry bacon on it.”  Asante writes, “I even duck like him under doorways, even though he’s way taller and I don’t need to duck.” When 16-year-old Uzi had consensual sex with a girl who turned out to be 13–and white–he got 10 years in prison. Asante was left alone to cope with his Afrocentric Pops (“We can’t celebrate some big fat white man bringing us gifts,” he says about Christmas). Mom was just getting out of a psychiatric facility. Dropping out of school, jumping into a gang, slinging dope, “I’m blowing money faster than a hollow-tip….It takes my mind off the bullshit: off the fact that my best friend is gone, my mom is in a coma, my dad left, my sister’s on the funny farm and my brother is locked in a dog kennel in Arizona.” He was sent to an alternative school where he was given a blank sheet of paper–both literally and figuratively. After struggling for days, he finally wrote the first word that came to his mind: Buck. Asante’s writing is passionate, fresh, and electric–a unique style that is informed by hip-hop, the classics, street slang, and everyday voice mails, rules, and found journal entries. From the title to the chapter headings to the interior, Asante has crafted a powerful, funny, deep, and universal truth-telling book that teens will love.–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA

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