Book Review: I Love My People

Book Cover Images image of I Love My People

by Kim Singleton

Publication Date: Jul 11, 2023
List Price: $15.99
Format: Hardcover, 96 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781506486710
Imprint: Broadleaf Books
Publisher: 1517 Media
Parent Company: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Read a Description of I Love My People

Book Reviewed by Robert Fleming

Lovingly crafted with an eye for substance and content, scholar Kim Singleton was determined with her new book, I Love My People. As a “race woman,” she doesn’t avoid the tribute of the pioneers and innovators, often ignored by the cultural establishment. The theme of the elite among her tribe led her to say: “too many to name, from the corners of obscurity, to the highest of fame.”

Singleton, a filmmaker, writer, and poet, knew the history and traditions of Black culture, so she wanted to fashion a text that would be supported by dynamic photos and lively illustration. She noted her youthful audience with their short attention spans and tendency to become bored if the project was not seamless. Maybe it was her involvement as a host on her award-winning TV show, Consider It Blacklit with its time considerations and production concerns.

Some critics have compared her writing to the political savvy of poet Gil Scott Heron and The Last Poets during the heyday of the spoken word during the 1970. The text in Singleton’s book goes beyond the familiar call-and-response of the blues, the growl lyrics of Hip-Hop, and the well-worn romantic yearnings of Motown. It contains the simplicity of the haiku, yet the words are still loaded with meaning, praise, and irony.

Her vision doesn’t miss a trick or detail. The commentary collected all of the quirky elements, things that noticed during a walk or a car ride:

Creative names,
Saggy pants,
Soul Train lines,
That wobble dance.
Fish fries, collard greens,
Urban slang,
Dudes named Pookie,
That dozens games.

In terms of art and culture, Singleton cast a wide net, mixing funk and flavor, high style and excellence, going deep into the soul and spirit of her favorite tribe. She, like all Black women, marvel at the impressive masculine images on the silver screen.

Let’s not forget
Our chocolate treats,
Like Denzel, Sidney,
And OG Billy Dee.
They fill the screens
With power and strength,
Qualities that all
Our Black men represent.

One theme at the core of the book, creativity, which Singleton returned time and time again in this finely edited book. Another voice on creativity, filmmaker Bill Gunn explained the term where anyone could understand: “Creativity is something that can happen only in the mind. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with clay or paints or words or just your way of living…we are the most creative people in the world. We can take pig intestines and make them into such an incredible dish that that you forget where they came from and what you’re eating.”

With Morrison, Baldwin,
Hurston, and Hughes,
Sharing intimate details
Of back home blues.
They also wrote stories
On equity, activism, and race,
Carving their prose forever
In America’s literary space.

Her greatest contribution to the book is the identity of the pioneers who showed determination and resilience to reach their achievement. They are all here: James Brown, Maxwell, Prince, Lil Wayne, Venus and Serena, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Note the bold souls who refused to go along with the rigid laws of Jim Crow: Thurgood Marshall, Frederick Douglass, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King.

Kidnapped to this country
On ships in chains
Buried by Jim Crow,
Racism, lynching and pain.
Still, we rose
To the greatest of heights.
We will continue to rise
Never giving up the fight!

For a young person seeking the truth about the Black Odyssey, this book is a good start to resume the oft-neglected history of our people. Black history has come under fire lately. In the same vein, go to the library and take Langston Hughes’ The Sweet Flypaper of Life with an able assist from noted photographer Roy DeCarava or Amiri Baraka’s In This Terribleness. Word and image, all three books are filled with nuggets of enlightenment and cultural truths.

Read Broadleaf Books’s description of I Love My People.

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