Book Review: “The Making of Black Revolutionaries,” By: James Forman

The Making Of Black Revolutionaries

“The Making of Black Revolutionaries,” By: James Forman is not a book about the heroics of the author. It is a tome about the collective daring of a people who defended their right to be.

Throughout “The Making of Black Revolutionaries,” James Forman tells the stories of many unsung heroes and heroines who stood up against the unwarranted brutality Black people were subjected to. These selfless warriors, who were not individually acknowledged by the annals of history, were motivated by the desire to make things better for the next generation. They courageously relinquished employment, basic comforts, and physical safety in their quest. The tales that Mr. Forman recounts reinforces the notion that it was the everyday citizens of various communities who helped propel the “civil rights movement” forward.

While James Forman’s book also tells of his personal struggles of being a Black man in America and his motivations for adopting a revolutionary mindset, the bulk of his autobiography/historical account is dedicated to discussing a specific time period and how Black people sought to organize and grapple with the conundrum that was America.

“The Making of Black Revolutionaries” holds great value for people who wish to exam past political organizing strategies and their effectiveness. Mr. Forman deftly includes cautionary advice to the next generation who may seek to learn from his generation’s organizational errors. He examines: Nonviolence vs. Self-defense, internal conflicts in an organization and its affect on a political movement, reform organizations vs. revolutionary organizations, including White people in Black-focused organizations, the detriment of the lack of constructive criticism of organization leadership, the destructive nature of the fear of power, the trickery of government agents, and more.

For history buffs who have an interest in “civil rights leaders” and activists from the 1960s and 1970s who were noted and acknowledged by the media and other historical tomes, “The Making of Black Revolutionaries” also abounds with accounts of their lives and political activism. Stokely Carmichael, Robert Williams and Mabel Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Harry Belafonte, Fannie Lou Hamer, and other leaders of their ilk are mentioned.

“The Making of Black Revolutionaries” is a great resource that can be used to analyze what makes a political movement weak, and what makes it strong. It is also a great documentation of how organizations are formed, fortified, grown, and destroyed.

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Book Review: “Sweet Poison: How the World’s Most Popular Artificial Sweetener Is Killing Us” By: Janet Starr Hull

Sweet Poison“Sweet Poison: How The World’s Most Popular Artificial Sweetener Is Killing Us- My Story,” By: Janet Starr Hull is a tome that was published in 1999 but is still shockingly relevant today. In this book, the author engagingly recounts how she discovered the deadly dangers of ingesting foods that are plied with toxic artificial ingredients.

When the author; a young, educated, vibrant, exercise enthusiast, and working mom; fell ill, she sought to heal herself and find the culprit behind her sudden sickness. What she discovered was a lesson that the world needs to imbibe and implement.

When the 30-something year old mother and wife, Janet Hull, became overcome with symptoms of: severe mood swings, headaches, insomnia, hair loss, rapid weight gain despite a rigorous workout schedule, heart palpitations, seeing blinding flashing lights due to retinal tearing; she sought medical care. Her physician diagnosed her with Graves’ disease, put her on medications, and told her the solution to her problem would be for her to “kill her thyroid” by irradiating it. This irradiation would involve her taking radioactive pills until her thyroid was rendered “dead.” Then, she would be given medication that she would have to take for the rest of her life. This diagnosis did not sit well with the author. While she took the medication her doctor prescribed to her, she didn’t wan to undergo the drastic process of “killing her thyroid” until she had exhausted seeking other alternatives. What the author found from her search was life-saving and eye-opening.

Thinking back to when her symptoms started to emerge and her corresponding behaviors around that time period, the author recalled that she had begun to add some new snacks to her daily menu. Being a mother of three children under the age of four, an aerobics instructor, and an adjunct professor left the author bereft of time. She thought she was complimenting her on-the-go lifestyle when she began to substitute meals with “fat-free” and “sugar-free” energy snacks. At the same time, she began her habit of downing several diet sodas during the day. Recollecting this routine raised a red flag.

Janet Hull did an experiment. She immediately stopped drinking “sugar-free” diet soda. Lo and behold, her symptoms began to dissipate. Ms. Hull decided to investigate the contents of the diet soda she had become so fond of routinely drinking. What she discovered was revelatory. She found that an ingredient in the beverage was acting as a toxin to her system.

The diet soft drink contained NutraSweet aka Equal (Scientific Name: Aspartame). Her research revealed that aspartame is made up of compounds that can be dangerous and destructive to the human body. In “Sweet Poison,” the author states that aspartame is composed of 50% phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid, and 10% methyl alcohol. The author reveals that aspartic acid can cause brain damage. Methyl alcohol, also known as wood alcohol, can cause eye problems and turns into embalming fluid when it is heated.

The artificial sweetener is said to have originally been created to be an ulcer medication. However, its U.S. patent was revoked in 1974 when it was found that the compound caused holes in the brains of lab animals. According to my research, Huffington Post states that aspartame was “previously listed by the Pentagon as a biochemical warfare agent.”

Janet Hull states that ingesting aspartame can cause over 92 different severe symptoms that can vary from person to person due to the fact that after being dissolved by the body aspartame’s “toxic by-products can be deposited anywhere [in the body]. Usually in the [body’s] weakest spots. Despite the government being aware of the alleged toxicity of aspartame, they continue to approve its use in food products consumed by their citizens. Because aspartame is said to be at least 180 times sweeter that sugar, it is a cheaper sweetener substitute that sugar can ever be. It all comes down to the money.

I highly recommend that people thoroughly read “Sweet Poison: How The World’s Most Popular Artificial Sweetener Is Killing Us- My Story.” This book will undoubtedly encourage the reader to carefully examine the foods that he or she eats. It will also motivate the reader to seek to implement truly healthy eating habits. Read this book and educate yourself and your family on how to eat in a way that is beneficial to your body. As the saying goes, “food can either be your medicine or your poison.”

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Book Review Of The Month: “I See Black People: The Rise and Fall of African American Owned Television and Radio” By: Kristal Brent Zook

A society that doesn’t have a viable means of truthful communication isn’t much of a society. Communication is what every form of human interaction and creation is about. A large majority of our technological advances focuses on making communication speedier and more efficient. The importance of communication makes the controllers of its distribution very powerful and influential.

Television and radio communicates messages that are subliminal and overt, to masses of people every nanosecond of the day. But, what happens when the ownership of the conduits of message relaying is in the hands of a few? The results of that stingy type of ownership is a feeding of myopic viewpoints to the general public, and a silencing of voices that don’t have the means of widespread message-sending. What good is having the right to freedom of speech, if you don’t have a noticeable platform on which to exercise that right? This is why the dearth of ownership of television and radio stations in the hands of African Americans is such a pertinent issue for the Black community.

In, “I See Black People: The Rise and Fall of African American Owned Television and Radio,” the author, Kristal Brent Zook, explores the history of Black ownership of media corporations. She smartly does this via ten interviews with pioneering African American media moguls. These interviews are revelatory regarding what it takes to own and operate radio and television stations. The interviewees also address what it means to be an African American in the tight fisted, mostly closed shop realm of media ownership.

Through the book’s subjects renderings of their sacrifices, tribulations and triumphs, the reader is able to relate to the moguls’ passionate attempts to strive in a business that has been traditionally unwelcoming to minority ownership. The book leaves the reader aware of the many market niches that are ignored by the media big wigs. These niches are begging to be catered to, or at the very least even acknowledged.

After reading this terse and enlightening tome, I was left contemplating what the future of African American ownership will be. With all of the digital transmissions being implemented for television and radio, will the FCC be wise enough to allow savvy moguls from various ethnic groups to have an opportunity to “sit at the big table?”

Including deserving experts from a multitude of cultures in the running of media outlets will help to benefit society by providing a balance of viewpoints. Plus, for all of the number-crunchers: It would help the bottom line too. Consumers need to demand that their voices are heard in this new, digital revolution.

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Book Review: “Amusing Ourselves To Death” By: Neil Postman

Written almost two and a half decades ago, “Amusing Ourselves To Death” is a thought provoking analysis of how our advancement of technological devices that facilitate communication has affected our relationships and our ability to think. Although the author penned this book before the popularization of the internet, the points he makes are very relevant to today’s computer-saturated world.

One of the oft-repeated ideas of the book is the observation that the media has created a population that desires constant entertainment and showmanship. Neil Postman states: “It does everything possible to encourage us to watch continuously. But what we watch is a medium which presents information in a form that renders it simplistic, nonsubstantive, nonhistorical and noncontextual; that is to say, information packaged as entertainment.” The author perceptively opines that television broadcasts of the news are packaged like an entertainment show: The newscasters are required to have a certain glamorous look; News reports of serious incidents are insensitively sped through in a manner that allows the severity of the event to be ignored; Music is played before and after news show intermissions; and commercials interrupt what is supposed to be an important relaying of news. This set up trains human beings to emotionally and mentally dull weighty events. It also robs us of our empathy.

In “Amusing Ourselves To Death,” Neil Postman also brings up ponderings of how different and cohesive family and community life would be if the automobile, aircraft, mail system, and telephone was never invented. This is definitely worth contemplating.

As our communication devices increases the feasibility of long-distance communication, we are becoming more distant in our personal dealings with each other in a bevy of ways. We must consider if we will let modern day inventions become the instruments of “family suicide.” What we latch on to out of convenience may actually become an enemy of basic human bonding. This book is definitely a catalysis for the reader to think about this premise.

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Book Review: “Amusing Ourselves To Death” By: Neil Postman

Written almost two and a half decades ago, “Amusing Ourselves To Death” is a thought provoking analysis of how our advancement of technological devices that facilitate communication has affected our relationships and our ability to think. Although the author penned this book before the popularization of the internet, the points he makes are very relevant to today’s computer-saturated world.

One of the oft-repeated ideas of the book is the observation that the media has created a population that desires constant entertainment and showmanship. Neil Postman states: “It does everything possible to encourage us to watch continuously. But what we watch is a medium which presents information in a form that renders it simplistic, nonsubstantive, nonhistorical and noncontextual; that is to say, information packaged as entertainment.” The author perceptively opines that television broadcasts of the news are packaged like an entertainment show: The newscasters are required to have a certain glamorous look; News reports of serious incidents are insensitively sped through in a manner that allows the severity of the event to be ignored; Music is played before and after news show intermissions; and commercials interrupt what is supposed to be an important relaying of news. This set up trains human beings to emotionally and mentally dull weighty events. It also robs us of our empathy.

In “Amusing Ourselves To Death,” Neil Postman also brings up ponderings of how different and cohesive family and community life would be if the automobile, aircraft, mail system, and telephone was never invented. This is definitely worth contemplating.

As our communication devices increases the feasibility of long-distance communication, we are becoming more distant in our personal dealings with each other in a bevy of ways. We must consider if we will let modern day inventions become the instruments of “family suicide.” What we latch on to out of convenience may actually become an enemy of basic human bonding. This book is definitely a catalysis for the reader to think about this premise.

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