Thomas Chatterton Williams’ book, Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Hip-Hop Culture is a poignant personal narrative that describes how his father’s love of learning saved him from the negative influences of hip-hop culture.
I was enrapt by this memoir because it read like my autobiography. Like Williams, I was also seduced by the negative aspects of hip-hop culture. I spent far too much time developing my hardcore persona in order to impress my peers. After reading Losing My Cool, I realized how silly my efforts were. Most of the guys I was trying to impress are either imprisoned, dead, or living miserable lives. The knowledge I gained from studying, reading, and attending college was much more valuable than anything I learned from them.
Although my father was not the person who motivated me to succeed, I did have strong mother who was not willing to allow her son to fall victim to the streets. She armed me with a library card, high expectations, and a generous helping of love. Too many young men grow up without this counterbalance and end up consumed by their machismo.
William’s father, Pappy, was a wise man who realized that he, rather than hip-hop culture, had to be the guiding force in his son’s life. Pappy’s strong presence and endless thirst for knowledge helped his son to understand that there is more to life than Versace shades and hanging out on street corners.
Without a strong role model like Pappy or my mother, many young men seek guidance from all the wrong places and end up with a skewed value system. There is a culture war in our society and education has suffered a major blow.
Losing My Cool provides some tips on how to fight back and should be required reading for all young men in America.
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