Bookings to promote my new book, "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card -- and Lose," have been difficult. Many media outlets -- television, radio, magazines -- flatly turn me down, because they find the title "offensive." The unwillingness to offend, to avoid the appearance of racism, proves one of the main points of my book -- that white racism no longer poses a significant problem in American life.
A man's 7-year-old son spotted his dad's recently purchased copy, and asked him, "Why is the book called 'Stupid Black Men'?" Dad wrote and asked me how to answer.
"Well, in writing," I responded, "sometimes authors say one thing when they mean something different. Some call this 'tongue-in-cheek' or 'irony' or that the writer is being 'coy.' All these funny words mean that the writer really means something very different from what, at first, it seems like he is saying.
"You know how sometimes I'll look at my watch and say, 'Wow, time really flew by.' I don't mean my watch grew wings like a bird and flew away. I mean that we were having so much fun, it got really late, and I didn't know it was almost time for dinner!
"You know how Mommy stands at your bedroom door when you haven't made your bed, and she says, 'My, this sure looks clean and neat'? She really means, 'You get in here and clean your room!'
"Suppose Mommy took a picture of your messy room, wrote on the picture 'My Child's Clean Room,' and taped it to the bathroom mirror. Why would she do that? Mommy is trying to get you to do the right thing by showing you how bad your room looks when it's messy. She wants to get your attention by saying one thing, when she means something different. This book got your attention and got you to ask me about it, didn't it?
"Now if you read the book, you would find that the book is not really calling black people -- or any other group -- 'stupid.' It says don't let people confuse you when they say things that are not true. What kinds of things? Things like, 'Most people are out to get you because you are black.' Or, 'Because you are black you can't do well in life no matter how hard you work.' Or, 'White people are really mean to black people.'
"Those things used to be true a long time ago, but they are no longer true. The book is saying life is good. So don't let people treat you like you are stupid -- and make you angry and unhappy with life -- by saying things about you, about other people, and about our country that are not true. The book says, 'Think for yourself. Believe in yourself, work hard and enjoy life. You are not stupid. So don't let people treat you as if you are.'"
Dad wrote me back and thanked me.