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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Eric L. Heard in Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad recounts his early years (childhood to high school) in an effort to lay the groundwork for the life education of his grade school son. Mr. Heard writes that he may have overreacted to his son having received a 70 on a math test and being rude to his teacher. But Mr. Heard is intent upon helping his son avoid many of the pitfalls the author had to face in his own childhood. Mr. Heard’s story begins with both sides of his family history in segregated Pensacola, Florida in the seventies. A strong influence was what is known as Black society’s being “color struck,” the influence of skin color in the social hierarchy, a phenomenon that created strong tensions in his own turbulent household. He feels that by conveying his own growing up experiences, he will provide the basis for his son’s development in the right direction. Mr. Heard expresses the value of therapy in having come to his own understanding of the forces that have conditioned his anxieties.
Despite his turbulent home life, Mr. Heard benefitted greatly from several stints living on army bases, where he caught a glimpse of integrated living, equal treatment, and ways of life other than his own. He also mentions his aptitude for math and his having escaped into PBS programming and “Star Trek,” where he became entranced with Scotty as an engineer. For me, this book ended too soon. Mr. Heard’s is an inspiring story, elevating him in becoming an “emboldened writer” and bravely honest in describing the tough challenges he faced in freeing himself from the “invisible fence” and the systemic inequities that hold back so many. He understands the future hurdles of urging his son in the right direction and realizes the dangers of overreacting to his son’s missteps. Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad by Eric L. Heard is a gut-wrenching but inspiring read, and I look forward eagerly to the next installment.