The Library

Everything But The Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture

Edited by Greg Tate [Harlem Moon]

When I first picked up this book, I was a little daunted. There are 18 chapters covering a multitude of subjects as each writer attempts to focus their ideas upon one particular medium or topic and show how important black culture is to the world we live in today.

Some of this book is quite heavy going and I think it is only because I did a Communications degree that I was able to grasp the various concepts of semantics and semiotics that appear throughout some of the chapter, especially the opening effort which looks at the effect Eminem has had on the rap world and beyond, entitled “Eminem: The New White Negro“.

But what makes this collection such an interesting and enjoyable read is the wide variation on topics and relative shortness of each chapter. Consequently the point has had to be made concisely and clearly and it is done with brilliant effort and end results. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on how pimps are now a culture fetish surrounding the black community, the chapter looking at the history and origins of the word “Thug” [from India, in case you wondered] and the chapter which looks at the different black boxers throughout the ages and how they were portrayed [from Ali to the various comebacks of Foreman].

Greg Tate has done a good job gathering a group of well educated and clear speaking [or in this case writing] individuals and this books flows well. There are a few points where I was drowned in terminology [especially in the final chapter, which looks at art] but that was certainly in the minority and this books is a great way to start looking at black culture, from its origins in Africa, to the views of a white person living in a black neighbourhood, to the rise of gangster rap.