ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)


 Charlie is the longtime friend of outgoing mayor Willie L. Brown. This writer had

the pleasure to observe Charlie call Willie Brown on his car phone

and address Da Mayor thusly, "Hey, you black motherfucker, what's goin on?"



America Is Still the Place

By Charlie Walker 

Read A Book Publishing, 2003 / 190 pages

Review by Marvin X


The title of Charlie Walker's book threw me off: for some reason. I thought the title suggested another tale of black right wing poppycock, in the manner of Eldridge Cleaver and now Haki Madhubuti, flag waving and praising the American military. But no, Charlie has not sold out, but instead has narrated a tale of tragic-comedy in the best tradition of African American literature on the enduring theme of how I survived, how I got ovah, yes, how I challenged the slave master and lived to tell about it.

The story reaches the height of classic tragic-comedy because the main character, Charlie, is a legend in the Bay Area and most especially in the Hunters Point district of San Francisco where he is considered the godfather and it is said nothing happens in Hunters Point without his approval. He owns a trucking business and is constantly in the media fighting to gain economic parity for his fellow residents and blacks in general. He recently challenged presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton to secure reconstruction contracts for blacks and minorities in Iraq, especially since so many of us return in body bags from Bush's desert kingdom.

Charlie is the longtime friend of outgoing mayor Willie L. Brown. This writer had the pleasure to observe Charlie call Willie Brown on his car phone and address Da Mayor thusly, "Hey, you black motherfucker, what's goin on?"

Only a legend can do this to another legend, so this is a story about a great man reaching new heights, but in classic manner, falling to the depths because of character flaws, yes, thinking he is invincible or perhaps equal to the white man. This might be true in the metaphysical but let's stay in the nightmarish reality of America.

So in the title is the conclusion: America is the place the black man can still get lynched, tarred and feathered on occasion. America is still the place affirmative action is needed yet denied. America is still the place a black man must never think for one moment he is equal to the white man.

The book begins with Charlie discovering his fellows in the trucking business are driving en masse to a job cleaning up a Standard Oil Company spill in the Bay without him. He follows the trail of trucks to the ocean beach and discovers the massive job no one has bothered to inform him about, after all he is a nigger and must be the last to know, if at all. But his nature is brutish, aggressive and bold, so in true form, he makes his way to see what's really going on, encountering a fellow trucker who has already landed a contract and reluctantly gives Charlie inside information on how he might secure a contract to help clean up the ugly spill after two ships collide.

One of the most important items the author wants us to know is how racism is revealed through body language and that for a black man to be successful in the white world, he must master body language, the glance, the fake smile, the weak handshake, the frown, etc. that reveal the nuances of communication in racist America. In short, the black man must master the games that people play in the house with the glass ceiling called corporate America.

I don't want to tell the entire tale, but essentially, Charlie contracts to clean Stinson Beach, in fact, is put in charge of the entire project, and herein begins his rise and tragic fall. After realizing the error of putting a black man in charge of white people, especially a black man who enjoys snorting cocaine with the townspeople and providing it to Standard Oil executives who enjoy a night at the beach with sex workers also provided by Charlie, they start the process of removing him from authority, including death threats delivered by San Francisco police. Charlie is, if nothing else, a fighter who relishes the drama, even though it is life threatening—he can and does threaten, yes, Standard Oil, the most powerful corporation in the world.

In heroic fashion, Charlie survives, but in the process is sent to prison for tax evasion, serving three years. Again, it is clear the charges were instigated by bloodsucking, filthy, rotten, racist Standard Oil executives. By book's end, we have a personal relationship with the executives, they truly help us understand the imperialist personality or the mind of neo-white supremacists. And we come to understand the mind of Charlie Walker, aggressive, criminal when necessary, raw, even responsible with a sense of family loyalty and love; creative, he actually solved the cleanup problem for Standard Oil.

Watch out Walter Mosley, the book is a thriller: once we start, we can't stop until the end, although we are disappointed that Charlie's end was tragic, yet in the African manner, comic, because he lives to tell another story and we can't wait to read it.

We hear the book is a best seller in Hunters Point: young brothers have bought multiple copies to share with friends because they say, "Charlie got game." If America Is Still the Place inspires reading in the hood, it should be promoted for this reason alone.

posted 20 December 2003

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

What Orwell Didn't Know

Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics

By Andras Szanto

Propaganda. Manipulation. Spin. Control. It has ever been thus—or has it? On the eve of the 60th anniversary of George Orwell's classic essay on propaganda (Politics and the English Language), writers have been invited to explore what Orwell didn't—or couldn't—know. Their responses, framed in pithy, focused essays, range far and wide: from the effect of television and computing, to the vast expansion of knowledge about how our brains respond to symbolic messages, to the merger of journalism and entertainment, to lessons learned during and after a half-century of totalitarianism. Together, they paint a portrait of a political culture in which propaganda and mind control are alive and well (albeit in forms and places that would have surprised Orwell). The pieces in this anthology sound alarm bells about the manipulation and misinformation in today's politics, and offer guideposts for a journalism attuned to Orwellian tendencies in the 21st century.

*   *   *   *   *

Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

*   *   *   *   *

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War

By Tony Horwitz

Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry was a pivotal moment in U.S. history. But few Americans know the true story of the men and women who launched a desperate strike at the slaveholding South. Now, Midnight Rising portrays Brown's uprising in vivid color, revealing a country on the brink of explosive conflict. Brown, the descendant of New England Puritans, saw slavery as a sin against America's founding principles. Unlike most abolitionists, he was willing to take up arms, and in 1859 he prepared for battle at a hideout in Maryland, joined by his teenage daughter, three of his sons, and a guerrilla band that included former slaves and a dashing spy. On October 17, the raiders seized Harpers Ferry, stunning the nation and prompting a counterattack led by Robert E. Lee. After Brown's capture, his defiant eloquence galvanized the North and appalled the South, which considered Brown a terrorist. The raid also helped elect Abraham Lincoln, who later began to fulfill Brown's dream with the Emancipation Proclamation, a measure he called "a John Brown raid, on a gigantic scale."

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)






update 21 May 2012




Home Marvin X Table  

Related files: Gospel of the Game  How to Find and Keep A BMW  Somebody Blew Up America    Wounded In the House of A Friend