Bone to Pick: Of Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Reparation, and Revenge.
In 2000, my 17-year-old son was wrestling with self-identity. Hip hop and rap, spreading their accretive gospel of preening commercialism and misogynistic narcissism, were still in ascendancy. So I took my son to Tulsa. The occasion was a dinner in Oklahoma City celebrating the survivors of the Tulsa race riot of 1921. Don Ross, a now retired Oklahoma state legislator, had invited me. Ross figures in Bone to Pick as the voice of advocacy and reason as to the merit of the state and city awarding reparations to those who survived the atrocities.
In his description of the destruction of Greenwood, the successful African American community in Tulsa that suffered the jealous wrath of its European American neighbors, Ellis Cose is in his dement. He dearly knows America's psychology in the way of Du Bois's "double consciousness." He has a reporter's eye for detail, a keen sense of phrasing, and his use of language here and throughout the book, is lucid and, at times, elegant. Bone to Pick examines intolerance, cruelty and the possibilities of forgiveness and redemption.
Cose's case studies range flora courageous individuals who have suffered horrific personal losses to intolerable acts of state sponsored slaughter. Cose allows room to hear the voices of vengeance. Nor does he omit dissenting voices. For example, those who rejected South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a feckless response to the aftermath of apartheid are present as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who headed it.
Bone to Pick touches down on several continents and artfully captures intimate portraits of courageous human beings. Though my son's mental and emotional landscapes were broadened from seeing Greenwood and then meeting the over 80-year-old survivors, his time there was too brief. As competent and compelling as Cose's study is, there are analytical moments that would have benefited from a more lengthy immersion in political history and culture. Still, it is an excellent, thought provoking read.
--Reviewed by Khalil Abdullah Khalil Abdullah is a writer, editor and business development consultant in Washington, D.C.
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|Publication:||Black Issues Book Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2004|
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