Raising Cain

The Plight of the Black Male in America

Non-Fiction - Historical
55 Pages
Reviewed on 02/02/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and W.E.B. Du Bois are names closely associated with literature that casts a critical look at the color line in very powerful ways. Now, Greg Salter, in his non-fiction book, Raising Cain: The Plight of the Black Male in America, re-examines the black problem in contemporary America, touching on issues that directly or indirectly affect the freedom, pursuit of opportunity, and the peace of the black soul in today’s American society. This book, slim as it seems, articulates truths that are often overlooked and truths that create a powerful divide in society. This book answers the questions: What is the black problem in today’s society and how does it affect the culture and economy?

Raising Cain: The Plight of the Black Male in America is the kind of book for anyone who is interested in knowing what it feels like to be a black youth or a black man in the US. This is a collection of well-written essays that combine social commentaries with personal stories to examine themes like racism, discrimination, and thought patterns that draw a line between mainstream America and the negro. Writing about the causes and effects of the marginalization of blacks, for instance, the author shows great mastery of psychology and social behavior.

Here is a passage with deep truths, a reality that doesn’t immediately catch the eye of many people: “When students don’t feel good about themselves, it affects how they get along with other students, and usually leads to them lashing-out in a manner that’s counterproductive. The lack of interest and lashing-out usually leads to disciplinary action by teachers and school administrators. This further exacerbates the frustration and marginalization of young black boys.”

This book comes across as a very useful tool to educators, sociologists, psychologists, policy makers, and students. It is an unmitigated exposé of the black conundrum, a beautifully written work that powerfully showcases black reality in the US.

Jack Magnus

Raising Cain: The Plight of the Black Male in America is a non-fiction historical work written by Greg Salter. Salter is a husband, father, mentor and business owner. He has been a coach, a board member of the YMCA, and a financial literacy speaker, as well as the inner city outreach coordinator for Love Center Church. Salter opens his book with an examination of what many people consider to be the black male culture as opposed to its white counterpart. When he asked people those questions, he found a variety of answers based upon the respondent's own race, socioeconomic status, religion and political affiliation. Their replies for what it meant to be a white male were less nuanced and more predictable. Salter thinks the disconnect Americans may have about black people is something that needs to be addressed on a number of levels, beginning with an understanding that black males have been historically oppressed in this country, but also that "far too many black males have shown little regard for their own patriarchal responsibility, economic well-being and cultural identity." He uses the biblical story of Cain and Abel to help readers identify the circumstances young black males may find themselves in. Salter argues that stepping in before young men are in trouble and adrift can dramatically change their lives for the better. It begins with education and the need for schools to recognize the conditions under which black boys feel supported and enthusiastic about learning; conditions which currently exist in far too few places.

Greg Salter's historical work, Raising Cain: The Plight of the Black Male in America, is an eloquent and thought-provoking look at the disconnect between what can be done as opposed to what is currently being done to ensure that each black male child reaches his full potential. I agree with the author that Black history should be something that's not just discussed during the shortest month of the year, but instead be included as American history. Likewise, children should have teachers who are cognizant of that history and familiar with the conditions that help motivate and inspire them. Salter's call for more black male teachers in primary schools is an important one. His emphasis on instilling an interest in academics instead of simply focusing on a child's athletic ability is spot-on. Likewise, Salter's emphasis on providing mentors and role models of black men in business, government, academia and the sciences to inspire and counsel youth shows how the black community can make a big difference in how young black men see their world. I was saddened by, and in full agreement with, Salter's analysis and dire statistics on the percentage of blacks in law enforcement, and the need for vigilance to overcome the discriminatory treatment that blacks often receive in their interactions with police officers. There is a lot to be done, but Salter's work shows constructive ways how society in general and each member of the community can get involved in doing it. Raising Cain: The Plight of the Black Male in America is most highly recommended.

Mamta Madhavan

Raising Cain: The Plight of the Black Male in America by Greg Salter chronicles the life of a young man growing up in Ft. Pierce, FL and his exposure to the devastating effects of crime, drug abuse, systemic oppression, and inadequate education. He speaks about how, till present day, American society has suppressed, oppressed, and vilified the black male, and how many black males have shown little regard for their own patriarchal responsibility, economic well-being, and cultural identity thereby contributing to the plight of black males in American culture. The author’s thoughts are made clearer with a story that revolves around Cain.

The book captures the plight of black males in America with incidents and instances surrounding Cain, where readers get to see how black boys struggle with self-esteem and develop identity issues as a result of constant negative reinforcement. The author calls out to everyone to speak up for the black youth and use their influence as a megaphone for black boys. The book also throws light on how the public school system in America peels away the self-respect and sense of dignity of these boys, resulting in the slow process of stifling their dreams and hopes.

The author handles the topic well, with authority and confidence, exposing the reality that exists when it comes to being a black male living in America. The book ends with some interesting pictures and quotes which speak about facing challenges and changing America and the world. The book has a positive streak running through it and connects well with readers.