Sunday, June 15, 2008
What I Know For Sure
Now, I have stated before, that I don't have favorite books, but more so favorite authors. I generally love a writing style and a point of view of an author,and the different books, are just icing. However, if I would have to state a book as being one of my favorites, this book would definitely have to go on that list. I don't mind saying, I loved this book!
I remember staying up at times watching Tavis Smiley, when he was on BET, and I was probably in middle school, back when BET tried to appeal to more than just black music videos and comedy. Back when they had a nightly news show also. I've continued over the years, even have watched his PBS show a few times, and listen sometimes to his commentary, on Tom Joyner, but this book shed a whole new light on Tavis Smiley, for me.
"What I know for Sure", is the autobiography of Tavis' life up to now. Like a lot of other books, I had this book for some time now, but never really got to reading it. To be honest, I wasn't even sure I really wanted to read it, it kinda seemed like something I would find boring, plus it was paperback, which bothers me. I had bought it on sell, and wasn't really sure why. Don't get me wrong I like a nice biography, if the person seems interesting enough. I've read Bernie Mack's, Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance's, LL Cool J's, Janice Dickerson's, and the list go and on. However for some reason, I couldn't muster up the will to read it, but this past month I decided to get it over with. Just like a record of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, helped him, this book, his book helped me. His drive to be the best Tavis he could be was a light for me. It truly was an inspiring, encouraging, thought provoking book, on a wonderful black man. While getting over with the task of reading this book, I found a new personal hero, for me, in the process.
The book takes us, on the journey of Tavis' youth, as one of 10 siblings to a struggling military family, up through his college years, to his career in public office, to his television and present day commentary career. He was very open a vivid on many accounts. At times, I felt like I was reading a fellow blogger's blog, than biography, which I didn't mind. Most of the book settles around his strict Pentecostal upbringing, and life as one of the few blacks in a rural part of Indiana. There was many accounts that stand out for me. From him finding out at the age of 11, over an argument over Soul Train verses The Bionic Woman, that the man he knew to be his father his whole life, was not his biological father; to the beating punishment, that would change his relationship with his parents forever. However you know that the best stuff, was the inside information on just a couple various famous names. One of them being his first interview, on BET, with Russell Simmons, and the huge drama, that Russell gave, which ended in a short interview over the phone, where Russell Simmons calls him a House nigger, on live national television. However, the best would be the real low down on BET and its creator Bob Johnson, and the real deal as to why Tavis was dismissed. All I will say is that tension can run high, when your demeaning boss literally calls himself a God, and in return you tell him how he can shove things up his black ass; even if you are the highest rated show on his network, and have yet to see ratings like it since.
Now the one issue I had, was, even though he was very open about everything personal, in his life, the one thing he stayed away from was his romantic personal life. He mentioned two girl friends, through this book, briefly about one in college, and the other was one who broke his heart recently, in his early 40s, that he gave no real deal on. Not saying he had to go in all details, but it was so washed over, and so unemphasized, that I felt kinda jibbed on that end.
Even though for the intriguing stories and interesting moments, I think the real reason I enjoyed this book the most, and it means so much for me, is that it came to me at a time, that I think I needed it the most. It never failed, that when I picked it up to read a portion or a few chapters; it was something going on in his life in that part of the book, that hit close to what I was going through at that time. From the time, he was having serious issues with his parents, I was having very similar issues as I've posted back in May, with mine, to the huge public family embarrassments, that you feel is hard to come back from, which I haven't talked about yet. In all of this I found a somewhat kindred soul, that I really related to. His intelligent and comical thoughts and views on the lessons he learned helped me tremendously.
I have to say that perhaps, if I read this book at a different time, that it might not have made quite as much as an impact, as it did for me.