Concrete Eyes Dont Blink, by Nikiel Hannah, gives
readers a look inside the window of the life of an African American boy growing up as an African American man. For African American women and people of other races, its easy to overlook, or not even be aware of the
injustices African American men have to endure each and everyday.
Narrated in the second person, by Tyrone, known as T-Boogie,
the story focuses on the character named Alvin Collins. T-Boogie begins the story
by telling the readers about Alvins awakening while attending the Million Man March.
While listening to a speech by Jesse Jackson, Alvin realizes at that moment that he does not, nor ever will, have the
support of a million black men he states, I dont even have the support of my own father.
He realizes that he has to make his journey in life alone.
In this book, Alvin experiences racism within his community
because he thinks hes better than everyone else. He also experiences it from
the other side of the tracks because he is the wrong color and from the wrong tax bracket.
With snippets of scenarios of Alvin and his girlfriend, Rita,
waiting for a table in a restaurant for hours while other patrons are seated immediately, or while flying first class having
the stewardess ask Alvin and Rita to relinquish their seats to a doctor and his wife who wanted to switch their seats from
coach to first class, its apparent that Alvin handles these and other situations as hazards of being a black man.
Its not stated in the book if the restaurant server or airline
stewardess were of African American or Caucasian persuasion, but it was very clear that Alvin and Rita were treated this way
because of their skin color.
There are also scenes in this book where two policemen one
African American and the other Caucasian, accost Alvin. Alvins interactions with
these policemen are often intense with racial slurs and beatings. I was surprised
by Nikiel Hannahs portrayal of the African American policemans self-hatred complex.
The officer was just as racist as the Caucasian officer.
As an African American woman, I would like to think I know
whats its like for African American men. After reading this book, I realize I
have no clue. I would like to think that race relations have changed for the
better for both male and female people of color. It takes movies and books like
this one to slap you in the face and wake you up to smell the coffee. Things
have changed at a slow pace, but we still have a long way to go.
Even though Concrete Eyes dont blink made me really think
about race relations as they are today, I did find the book to be difficult to follow and make sense. The story lines seemed to jump from one scenario to the other without a connection or conclusion. Even so, I would recommend that young black men everywhere read it.
The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for Concrete Eyes dont
blink is 2 out of 5 stars.