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“Black Privilege”: A Book Review

May 23, 2017

Warning: Spoiler alert! The views expressed in this blog post are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Akata Team.

His Story

Whenever I read a book, regardless of genre, I like to completely immerse myself in a story. I want to feel that what protagonist feels, eat what they eat, smell what they smell, I think you get the picture. When I was reading Charlamagne’s story, I didn’t have to rely on my imagination as much, because his story and my story are a lot alike. Well…. Not really…. at all, but our mentalities are virtually similar.

Charlamagne and his family grew up in a trailer park in South Carolina. His mother was a teacher and a Jehovah Witness, and his father was infamously known around town as a drug dealer and womanizer. As a child, he was constantly teased for being dark skinned (me too), having spots on his face and a big nose. He excelled academically in elementary school (me too), but years later he kept getting suspended from school and eventually thrown in jail. On one occasion he and his father were put in jail for drug possession and ended up in the same cell.

The rest is history – After getting fired from 4 different radio stations, having to move back in with his mother (at the age of 30) with his wife and daughter, Charlamagne is now as successful radio co-host, podcaster, TV show host and now a best-selling author. If you are an avid listener to the Breakfast Club like I am, most of this brief breakdown should not come as a surprise to you, but if it did, my bad, I told you there were spoilers.

God Plays A Major Role In His Life

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I appreciated how much Charlamagne credited God throughout his entire life. Now, I am not stating that he said he was a “born-again Christian”, in fact, I do question some of his theology (but that is beside the point), what I am saying is that I admire that he told his readers that his life would be TRASH if God’s hands weren’t on it. For instance, when he was still a radio DJ in South Carolina, a friend of his prophetically told him that he should do radio in New Jersey, he immediately shot that down, until he saw “signs” everywhere pointing him to New Jersey and eventually he got a call and it was an opportunity to work in that state.

Another incident was when he was a teenager, a neighborhood bully caught wind of Charlamagne talking mess about him. The bully confronted Charlamagne about it, he didn’t back down. The bully beat him up so mercilessly that another child had to step in and break up the fight because he thought the bully was going to kill Charlamagne. Long story short, that bully is now a man serving a life sentence in jail for murdering someone.

A final example, Charlamagne re-tells the infamous story of being jumped outside of the Breakfast Club building. He was punched in the back of the head and fled the scene, of course, this incident was caught on camera. In the book, he shared that the police found the person who hit him, and a week later from his incident, that criminal murdered someone. That could’ve been him. Charlamagne has had so many near-death experiences (me too), which he shares in his book, that he proclaims that he doesn’t understand how people cannot believe that there is no God. Lol, He is truly a witness to the Lord’s mercy and grace. Love him or hate him, Charlamagne is FAVORED. God indirectly showed him his destiny through signs, mentors, and circumstance. Unlike Charlamagne, God told me directly to create Akata Documentary, but that is a story for another time.

 

His Advice On Life, Career, And Love

One of the features I love about this book is, it reads like a self-help/ memoir. Charlamagne addresses how to overcome misogyny and homophobia in the African American community, how to prioritize your career, love life, make new friends and seek out experiences. Towards the end of this book, Charlamagne shares what a typical day looks like for him. OMG, all I remember is that his day starts off at 3:30 am and the rest is filled with: Breakfast Club gig, podcast gig, TV show taping, meetings, prayer and spending time with his family. He shares that if you want to prioritize your personal success, you have to be FOCUSED and cut the riff raff out of your life. The riff raff can include: clubbing every weekend, spending downtime with friends knowing that you have more important things to take care of, social media (especially if it isn’t your job) etc.

Charlamagne says it’s good to spend time and chill with (old) friends, reminisce about the good ol days and turn up every once and while, but that cannot be a habit for him. Every “down time” he has within his day is spent with his wife and kids. I loved reading how much of a family man Charlamagne is. If I am honest, I needed to hear these words, because his schedule is the story of my life, on a smaller scale. I am not working a 9 to 5 job, Akata Documentary and Up Studios LLC are my life. As the main character and executive producer, I manage a team of 5, the social media handles, website, I am in meeting after meetings, writing email after emails, networking events, you name it. Because I work so hard on this and other projects, I don’t have a lot of time to socialize like I once did. And it’s not like I don’t have time, I choose not to make it high on my priority list.

Recently, I went to a fashion show event that one of my friends were hosting, and all of my homies whom I grew up with were there. I had an awesome time catching up with them. Towards the end of the night, one of my friends pulled me to the side and said “Vicky, you know we all miss you at the rec center (my old hangout spot). You should stop by every once in while. I left that conversation feeling horrible, do my old friends feel abandoned, do they hate me for not stopping by like I used too? After I read Charlamagne’s schedule, I realized that it is ok for people to miss you when you are out here grinding. When that level of success comes, you can bless them how you want to and in your own time. So to any of my homies that are reading this post right now, know that I love you and I miss you too. What I am building here with Akata Documentary is going to BLESS ALL OF US.

 

Final Thoughts

If you are on the fence of whether or not you want to purchase this book, I say BUY IT, #SupportBlackBusiness. I know this book will encourage people who have never thought about sharing their story, into doing so. If you are into pop culture, buy this book. If you are into rags to riches stories, self-help books or even New York Times best sellers, BUY THIS Book.

BTW I am not sponsored by Charlamagne or “Black Privilege” estate

Victoria Gregg, M.B.A.

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