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Book Reviews

Book Review: Pimps to Pops – A Journey to Fatherhood



Journalist and author Cliff Williams provides a unique offering of a journey to aware­ness for readers in his book intriguingly titled “Pimps to Pops – A Journey To Father­hood.”

In his book, he artfully weaves the lives of seven col­orful characters into an en­gaging tapestry that blankets the experience of scoundrels, sex-addicts, and seducers. The characters represent dif­ferent types of male personas in society.

Pimps to Pops – A Journey To Fatherhood

This fictional work created by Williams is based on real life conversations and inter­views he conducted with sev­eral men during the develop­ment of the book. The content and structure of the book is loosely based on a fatherhood conference the author previ­ously attended. Its content is also supported by various excerpts from perspectives on fatherhood by, for exam­ple, former President Barack Obama, a staunch and pas­sionate supporter of parent­ing-related themes.

In “Pimps to Pops”, Wil­liams writes about the tri­als and tribulations that can transform boys to men. He introduces the reader to suave and savvy personalities who, while holding reputable oc­cupations, also supplement their income through means of exploitation and greed. Early in their careers the char­acters became spoiled by the luxuries of fine wine, good times, and pliable women. They boast of their spurious role as gentlemen of leisure who manipulated women for self-promotion and sexual fa­vors.

Their goals were to make money at any cost with little regard for legalities. Through these lifestyles, the spurious and selfish prowess of each character creates significant consequences for them­selves and in the lives of oth­ers. This factor, along with an unplanned life-changing responsibility, sets the stage for the transformative es­sence of the book.

Williams, born in New Mexico and currently resid­ing in Oakland, holds a BS in journalism and mass commu­nication and a MA in leader­ship. He can be contacted at clwilliams1215@gmail. com.

The author will conduct a book discussion and signing of “Pimps to Pops – A Jour­ney to Fatherhood,” on:

  • Saturday, Aug. 17, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., at Railroad Book Depot, 650 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg, CA.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 1 p.m.– 3 p.m., at the African American Museum & Li­brary, 659 – 14th St., Oak­land.

Pimps To Pops – A Jour­ney To Fatherhood, is avail­able for purchase locally at:

  • Walden Pond Books, 3316 Grand Avenue Oak­land, CA
  • DeLauer’s Newsstand, 1310 Broadway, Oakland, CA
  • Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA
  • Book signing venues

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Book Reviews

‘The Book of Obsidian: A Manual for the 21st Century Black American Gentleman’

The 450-page reader focuses on Black dating and male and female relationships, a subject that has been a large focus for his weekly podcasts over the past four years. He believes the situation between Black men and women is dire.



Book of Obsidian/Amazon

Based on everything he puts to paper, the prolific novelist and essayist Ishmael Reed has been called a writing pugilist. Social media personality and DJ Mumia Obsidian Ali can be viewed in that same light. Ali is a fighter for the everyday Black man in his radio shows and on his YouTube platform.

The 52-year-old Philadelphia native is one of the most influential voices online as one of the co-founders of Black Manosphere, the African American section on YouTube, which deals with helping uplift Black men. The Black Manosphere has content creators who deal with self-improvement, popular culture, family development, hip-hop culture, history and mating and dating.

The first manifesto of the Black Manosphere is Ali’s recently released book, the ‘Book of Obsidian: A Manual for the 21st Century Black American Gentleman.’

The 450-page reader focuses on Black dating and male and female relationships, a subject that has been a large focus for his weekly podcasts over the past four years. He believes the situation between Black men and women is dire.

“Successful Black men and women just can’t get along, especially when you consider that when Black Americans were under the heel of Jim Crow itself, more were married then whites,” writes Ali.

Ali’s book is comprised of new essays and others written for the Negromanosphere, an online web publication started by Oshay Duke Jackson, another founder of the Black Manosphere.

Like Ali’s witty and combative talking style on the microphone, in his writing Ali paints a complicated picture of how Black relationships are marred by the old paradigm of the negative Black male image.

This image dates back to the 1980s and 1990s when Black men were portrayed in the media and in song as irresponsible, in prison, on drugs, unemployed or unambitious. This has led to many Black women asking, “where are the Black men at?” One of the first things he does in the book is to dispel this myth.

“Not only do more Black men attend and graduate from college today,” writes Ali. “There are actually more of them doing so than at any other point in American history.”

He writes that the negative perception of Black men makes Black women feel they do not have suitable mates when this is far from the truth.  More than 52% of Black men have never been married and are childless. Of those that are married, 85% have Black wives and that Black men are more likely to be married then Black women.

The book has two parts. The ‘Macro’ takes a newspaper story or contemporary look at dating topics with Ali’s commentary on the issues and news article. The book then takes a ‘Micro’ examination of issues in which Ali deals with mating and dating.

At times the book drags on as it’s probably 100 pages too long, but you get the point that Ali has a lot to say and get off his chest. So much so, he has stated, the ‘Book of Obsidian,’ will be the first in a trilogy of books.

Ali’s ‘Book of Obsidian’ will give you an overview on how we got to where we are and where things are going to go. He said there needs to be re-examination of how Black men and women relate to each other as we move on with the rest of the 21st century.

The Book of Obsidian can be purchased online at Amazon, and various other online and book stores across the country.

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Broadway Success of Black Artists Revealed in ‘Footnotes’

Caseen Gaines explores the question, how long will your star stay aloft?



Footnotes/Google Books

 You can’t see where the roar is coming from.

But you can hear it, and that’s what matters. The role was made for you, you hit every line and note, the audience loved you – and now the roar of cheers and applause is yours. 

How long does the standing ovation last? How hard do they clap? And, in her new book “Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way”

Caseen Gaines explores the question, how long will your star stay aloft?

Growing up in an affluent Black neighborhood in Columbia, Tenn., Flournoy Miller had everything he could ever want – and when he was 9 years old, he wanted to be onstage. It was 1894, and his parents had taken him to see Sissieretta Jones, a famous soprano and one of the highest-paid Black entertainers of the day.

“Miller,” says Gaines, “was captivated.”

And yet, growing up, Miller knew that fame was a dangerous reach. Every Black entertainer seemed to know someone who was killed by white folks for no reason, but once Miller met Aubrey Lyles in 1903 and “the two hit it off right away,” the warning was ignored. 

Miller, in fact, was more determined than ever for fame, and the two developed a popular comedy act.

From the time he was a child, Noble Sissle loved to sing. Few things pleased him more than a chance to perform in church and, while it was expected that he would become a minister like his father, he grew more passionate about music.

When Sissle took a job in Baltimore, he met Eubie Blake, a talented pianist who grew up in a Godly house as a child and honed his talents at brothels as a teenager. They, too, became fast friends and eventual collaborators.

It’s a small world, and because they worked in the same industry, Miller and Lyles knew Sissle and Blake and there was mutual respect all around. They had kicked around the idea of working together on a show, but the idea didn’t coalesce until early 1921.

And, “with nothing but a handshake agreement..” says Gaines, “the quartet agreed to give it a shot.”

The nicest thing about “Footnotes” is this: you don’t have to be a theater-goer to enjoy it. You don’t ever have to have even seen a play. You can love this lively, sparkling book for no reason but just because.

Though it takes a while to get there and though it may not seem like it, the main subject of this book is the musical, “Shuffle Along.” Gaines seems to use this main feature as a backdrop as he wraps biographies, history, and everyday life around that century-old show to demonstrate how it came to be and why it was so important to Black culture. 

There’s racism in this tale, of course, but also determination and a sense of opulence and grandeur, at times. It can be a feel-good story, but one that hurts, too.

Shakespeare said, “The play’s the thing” and so is “Footnotes.” If you love Broadway, history, or books on culture, it’ll make you roar.

“Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way” by Caseen Gaines. c.2021, Sourcebooks $26.99 / higher in Canada 448 pages

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Book Reviews

Mothers that made us, author Anna Malaika Tubbs offers insight, perspective

THE THREE MOTHERS is an assessment of its subjects’ emotional, moral, physiological, psychological, and familial bearings. Further, it explores each subject’s aspirations and motivations, the inherent attributes that inform their existential impact as daughters, as mothers, as members of the movement; their pursuits for dignity, for commerce, for acceptance of and by black people. 



Author and academician Anna Malaika Tubbs takes us on an extraordinary exploration of three matriarchs: Alberta King (Mother of Martin Luther King Jr), Louise Little (mother of Malcolm X), and Berdis Baldwin (mother of James Baldwin). While all of the subjects and their sons no longer live among us, their life lessons live on perpetually.
THE THREE MOTHERS (ISBN: 978-1-250-75612-1, Flatiron Books), is my personal pick for a Mother’s Day gift.
Tubbs, a student of life and learning, earned an undergraduate degree in Anthropology at Stanford University; an MA in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies at Cambridge University and will soon add a PhD in Sociology to her academic accomplishments, also from Cambridge.
The life partner of Michael Tubbs (former Stockton CA mayor now current economic advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom), and soon-to-be-mother of two, beckons us to this critically acclaimed reflection of three iconic women whose parental and personal sacrifices gave way to historical giants of untold proportion.
A portion of our conversation about THE THREE MOTHERS follows–
Sandra Varner (Talk2SV):  Was it always these three mothers that you chose to profile in the book?
Tubbs:  My relationship with these mothers, in that sense, has been relatively short. I didn’t know much about them when I started my PhD. I didn’t have them in my proposal. When I was applying for my PhD program, I was generally interested in telling black women’s stories that had been forgotten. And there were so many stories that we could have chosen.  Many (Black women’s) contributions are erased, not paid attention to, not given the credit they deserve; but I was very inspired by Margo Lee Shetterly’s HIDDEN FIGURES. I knew I wanted to be somebody who also found “hidden figures” and gave them the spotlight they deserved. When I started the PhD, I began to think of all the different layers of erasures I could address in one project.  Thoughts about the many different parts of this horrible problem of erasing stories that still persists–not giving somebody the recognition they deserve.
Assessing how many of those things could I challenge in one project? So I thought about the civil rights movement. I thought about this moment in history we’re in now, crucial to our understanding of the world that we cite over and over again, that we so often speak from the perspective of our male leaders. And we don’t really say much about others who were involved–it’s very male centered perspective. I knew I was going to do something around re-examining the civil rights movement. I also thought about roles in our society that are overlooked and not celebrated in the way I believe they should be.

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