root - Posted on 11 June 2001

ReViewSfortheRevOlutioN- a PNN review column for all your literary, visual and audio art needs

by George Tirado

What can you say about a piece of work so volatile, that just reading the back cover of the book will make 80% of P.C. America cringe in their boots? "I own nigger . I purchased it with the blood of my fathers. I stole it from the mouths of my masters. I created it in the soul of my sons. It is mine. I am it's god......." This is only a taste of what there is to expect from Growing up Free in America by Bruce Jackson.

What Bruce Jackson has done is to take the pretty out of art, poetry and short prose, and instead of creating something nice for the reader, he has given us a loaded gun filled with bullets of reality.

What makes Bruce Jackson's work important, especially now, is this war on poverty. This is a war in which there are no winners, and each person who is fighting to survive is not really living. The pain is real, the addiction is real , the violence is real , and the outcome is also very real. If you give into it you die, but sometimes it's easier to quit. "There is brutal silence in the night. Listen. They are screaming. Black is the fire in the city below the dark of the sky. Black is inhaling fire, exhaling smoke into base pipes hissing gripped liquid crack, burning until the hissing explodes...."

This is a view of America from the eyes of a Black man, cold and angry. Here is a man who is not afraid to write about gentrification, racism, poverty, drug addiction and violence. Not only violence by police, but by his own race. This is a book in which the main character is not human, but a being driven to extinction by his own hand. What is the point of writing like this? It's the truth found in between the lines; he makes you work for it. This book is great in that it falls in line with other revolutionary writings such as Solidad Brother by George Jackson, On a Mission by The Last Poets, and An Autobiography of Malcolm X .

This book is for everyone. This book will open your eyes and challenge something inside of yourself: something called Freedom.


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