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Warning: black men thinking: Pittsburgh group uses books to foster discussion on crucial issues.

AT SPIRITS EMBODIED GALLERY AND Literary Cafe, a black-owned business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, members of the Pittsburgh Cadre collectively believe the new week begins on Wednesday night at 6 P.M. because that's the start of the Cadres meetings," says Granderson Glenn II, owner of the gallery/cafe at 221 West Burgess Street, which specializes in literature and artworks by African Americans and Africans.

The Cadre, fashioned after a discussion group in Mississippi, was established in 2004 to give black men a chance to read black literature and to facilitate discussions about relevant social issues.

"We decided to meet every week because we believe that black males should have at least one day a week to feel free to express our [their] concerns, problems, frustrations and share our [their] triumphs," says Glenn.

"Because we are also a literary discussion group, meeting every Wednesday fosters consistency within the group and allows us to share our perspectives and discuss timely current events as they unfold in the media."

Teaching Each Other

With members who range in age from 27 to 65, the Cadre has had a very positive impact on its participants. "We all come to the Cadre to learn from and teach each other," says Glenn. "Having elder brothers in the group allows us to learn from their experiences and allows for a myriad of generational views to be shared during the meeting.

"We discuss topics from a black, male perspective. Older brothers in the group can recommend literary classics that the younger brothers might not have considered. Our dialogue stems directly from the information we read in the books."

One book the club read recently was The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave by Kashif Malik Hassan-El, (Lushena/Frontline Distribution [reprint], 1999). "We thought about what we could do to heal the relationship between older black men and younger black men. We also talked about how to heal relationships between black men and women," says Glenn.

A discussion of African Holistic Health by Dr. Llaila O. Afrika (A & B Books, 2004) emphasized the importance of a balanced diet and safe sexual practices. Glenn says the members also shared recipes for light meals and natural remedies.

Fathers and Sons

Some members of the Cadre have their sons participate in the meetings, and the group is starting a Cadre Jr., a group for their sons and other teenagers.

"We recognize that some young men are dealing with puberty, gang problems and other issues that we may not be directly affected by," says Glenn. "Being in a book club allows us to learn from our ancestors who have written relevant information on becoming a man in a society determined to undermine, feminize and miseducate black men. It is our goal to have a Cadre Jr., so we can introduce the younger brothers to reading as a form of gathering information and teaching them the importance of being able to relate to and respect other people's beliefs and customs."

Women, however, are not invited to attend the discussions. "We decided it is best to allow only males to attend the Cadre meetings, so members can be comfortable discussing any topic, including economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war," says Glenn.

Nevertheless, members say they stay mindful of their entire family. "The Cadre promotes good communication and family relations at all meetings," says Glenn. "We believe that literary discussion is a tremendously effective vehicle for facilitating the exchange of ideas about topics that are of issue to the African American community. Reading and discussing literature written for, by and about us is very therapeutic; it serves as an excellent networking tool and leads us to a better understanding of ourselves."

For more information about the gallery/cafe, go to http://www.spiritsembodied.com (site under construction), send an e-mail to granglen412@aol.com or call 412-758-7330.

The Pittsburgh Cadre

LOCATION: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

BOOK PREFERENCES: Nonfiction: history, politics and social issues of interest to African Americans

NUMBER OF MEMBERS: Ten

HOW OFTEN THEY MEET: Every Wednesday night

HOW THEY CHOOSE BOOKS: The decision rotates among members.

LAST BOOK READ: Standing at the Scratch Line by Guy Johnson Villard. January 2001 $15.95. ISBN 0-375-76667-1

GROUP'S REACTION: Favorable

NEXT BOOK: Pawned Sovereignty: Sharpened Black Perspective on Americanization, Africa, War and Reparations by Ezrah Aharone AuthorHouse, November 2003 $1999. ISBN 1-410-78642-0

Pat Houser is a contributing editor at BIBR.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Cox, Matthews & Associates
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Title Annotation:book clubs
Author:Houser, Pat
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Geographic Code:1U2PA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:737
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