Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty

Book Review: The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty, by Aaron Clarey.  195 pages.  February 2015.

Before I share my thoughts on Clarey's latest book, a few points.  First, this author who advises black men on their escape from poverty is white.  Midwest pasty white.  Minnesota white.  Second, he is a fellow cigar-smoking comrade.  We share a Midwest upbringing.  And more recently, we both participated in the 2008 banking disaster.  Where we differ: he comes from divorced parents, and is both wifeless and childless.
Q: So how come he thinks he can give career, family, parenting and education advice to black men? 

A: Only those unfamiliar with his existing body of work would ask such a stupid question.  Or they have an agenda.

The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty is a natural extension of Clarey's last two books (listed in the Library to the left) and his work on YouTube.  He is a prolific advice giver.  And while there are exceptions to nearly all his recommendations, his advice is solid, based on both his experiences and observations, and supported by data when available.  Above all, it is selfless.

My first reaction to The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty was the absence of so much noise.  In other words, it is so focused the reader may subconsciously add examples or tangents.  I caught myself doing this, and in every case it was that pop-culture, political and media noise that has overwhelmed the advice industry.  If this happens to you, do not mistake it for author oversight.  Clarey's focus is his strength, and those who read this book will be better for it.

He opens the book with the problem.  Specifically, ghetto culture and the crabs-in-the-bucket environment that leads to so many wasted lives.  He tells his reader to face reality and provides the tools to catch the lies, the traps, and the hidden agendas. He describes the "self-fulfilling prophecy" of "immobilization, defeatism and debilitation."

I'd guess the author would call this an apolitical book, yet he links the challenges facing fatherless black men to Johnson's Great Society and to the entitlement and dependency policies of today's Democrat Party.  He doesn't preach.  He doesn't promote the Republican Party.  He doesn't bad-mouth the Democrat Party beyond linking them to this mess.  Maybe that'll be his next book...

He discusses Tribalism in Chapter 3.  This is a great chapter about the genetic impulse to be a member of a tribe.  The author suggests black men break away from this natural instinct, as the current "ghetto tribe" is a trap of "fatherless children determining the rules of the tribe."  He lists common traits for "Acting White" and "Acting Black," then asks the reader which set of traits they'd rather be associated with.  Chapter 3 is full of tough love, telling the reader the problem and how he can escape.  He even explains the different stages a black man will experience as he makes his escape.

One expected flaw of a white author dispensing advice to black men would be the author telling the reader what he would want.  No book on this subject would be complete without discussing Affirmative Action.  The white perspective, if I may, is that all job applicants should be treated equal.  I would guess Clarey would agree with this, but his role as the author of The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty is to advise black men.  He does discuss Affirmative Action and encourages the reader to take advantage of it.  As Clarey explains, "I'm recommending every LEGAL (not moral) way" to succeed.

Another expected shortcoming in a book like this would be some bland, equivocal noise disguised as advice.  You've read such garbage before, where you finish and wonder what the author really meant.  Well, not here.  If you haven't read Clarey's other books, beware of the author's opinions on women, education and parenting.  Not a single word is wasted in defining standards in these areas.  I do the wave when I read Clarey's expectations of parents, for example. He sets the highest standard.

I disagree with Clarey's advice to men to put a "stash" aside prior to marriage and in case of divorce.  If the reader follows the author's advice in selecting a future wife, it is my opinion then that there should be no reason to do anything dishonest.  No doubt this advice comes from his research, and no doubt it would have helped others.

The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty isn't for all black men.  It is written for the black man who has an open mind and cares deeply about living his life to its full potential. 

I highly recommend The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty to all young men, regardless of race, who want to learn from other people's mistakes rather than make those mistakes themselves.

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