Black Klansman [#Blackathon 2019] Nonfiction, More Than a Color, My Kind of Mystery
Wow. What a wild ride. And I don’t mean roller coaster hang-onto-your-seats-bang-bang ride. I mean an “if this were a novel nobody would believe it” ride, which is such a cliché it’s gotten trite and boring, but I kinda didn’t want to say an “are you shittin’ me???” ride.
As often happens I’m recommending that you just go grab this and start reading or listening without knowing any of the spoilers that all through the publisher’s description of the book and even the movie trailer. That’s one reason my jaw was on the floor so often. I had no warnings of what was coming. That said, I’m going to put the trailer at the end of this review so you were warned!
Five stars for content, a plot that reads like a comedy unfolding even though it’s told in a very dry, straightforward way. I’m glad I listened to the audiobook, partially because the writing is so dry and straightforward I wonder if I would have had a different experience reading rather than listening.
But listening to Ron Stallworth read/tell his own story brought it into vivid reality. Don’t get me wrong. He reads it like the cop he was, again, straightforward, just the facts, ma’am. But listening to his voice, first, made it all so believable that he could be in steady contact with the KKK as a white guy without suspicion.
Okay… so it’s 1972 and Stallworth’s 19 when he gets sworn in as a police cadet for the Colorado Springs, Colorado Police Department. His interview process is pretty trippy but par for the time. Eventually as a fully-hatched cop badgers he his way [“Make me a narc!”] into undercover investigations, which automatically gets him–the first and only black cop in the force–assigned to weirdly ironic and uncomfortable assignments.
While doing his daily scan of the local newspaper to see if there’s anything the department might need a heads up about [grunt work assigned to the newbie], he’s startled to see a want ad for the Colorado Springs KKK. Since nobody knew they had a local branch, he’s a little surprised, right?
All righty, then!
He mails off a request for information.
Without thinking, he uses his real name.
Not either of the aliases he uses undercover.
Ron Stallworth, CSPD’s first black cop.
And thus begins a “you gotta be shittin me” snowball of events that goes from absurd to unbelievable with lots of satisfying chuckles and fist pumps along the way.
Look closely. Yes, Ron Stallworth is a card-carrying member of the KKK and don’t you know David Duke is chewing the bark off of those Louisiana bois d’arcs right now? [That’s some serious and painful bark-chewing there and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving person since Duke swore Ron Stallworth in, LOL!]
Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime was published in 2018, was filmed and released as a movie which is up for several awards at tomorrow night’s Oscars, including Spike Lee for best director and the entire movie for best picture.
Remember I said avoid spoilers? Oh, hell. Go for it. And BTW “Ball of Confusion” is like the perfect intro for this, just sayin.
Yes, the movie is clearly different in some interesting ways and that doesn’t bother me. The are-you-shittin-me? stuff is true so have fun with the rest. [The main difference in the trailer I noticed is his white counterpart being Jewish and being a little less into the spirit of the job, but that’s good storytelling that gives room for story arcs and growth and any role that Adam Driver plays has me at hello.]
And because that book/audiobook cover deserves a closeup?
That comb. That raised fist. So 70s and perfect.
That hood. So pwned.
Read it. Listen to it. Watch it. I’m going to tonight!
And good luck at the Oscars to all!
Wait. One more thing. Whoever dreamed that that nice 70s boy Eric Foreman was such a bad seed? His parents must be weeping. Snort.
I find myself needing to hold my nose whilst typing anything to do with the KKK in as a tag on this entry.
I figure anybody who finds this under its title gets that, anyway. I mean, Klansman. Right? So, do I add the KKK and Ku Klux Klan and even the David Duke tags or let it go? [Weirdly, I would put them in without a thought if it were about fiction or even some other reason. But that’s because I don’t usually read about them in reality and then there’s that. I will mull it over a bit. After I write my word count for today! And no, blog words don’t count.]
I’m not seriously stressing over it, just curious what y’all think. Seriously, leave them off the sidebar? Or does that somehow give them too much power, like I’m afraid of them instead of not wanting the disgusting stuff on my site even in this context.
[Also? That is not an invitation to debate about whether there are good people on both sides. Seriously. Not.]
Maybe it’s just my dys-brain circling for hours or days as it sometimes does before it finally comes in for a landing that is sometimes so predicatable and uneventful it makes the entire mulling over ridiculous, but sometimes lands on something profound [to me], something I needed to see.
And now I have to go find out more about why this book finally got published because the way it ends leaves that as an unlikely event, and I really am curious about the ‘splainin’, Lucy. Also, about David Duke’s reaction. He’s pretty smooth but his public reaction should be interesting. His reaction behind the scenes is the one I am curious about though, that racist piece of shit.
[This is not the way my Mamma and Grannymamma and Nana raised me to talk. But in this case? David Duke and all his ilk are racist pieces of shit and I’m not going to search for more polite terms because they don’t deserve the respect that implies. Also? They have their own names for people like me so we’ll just call it even and stay off each other’s turf. So yeah, just decided what is going into the tags for this post. Plane landed neatly and my uncle, the WWII pilot, would be pleased that I only had to circle a half hour before I found the mark, LOL.]
[I read this book for the #blackathon challenge,
one of my More Than a Color books.
It also dovetails nicely into the
My Kind of Mystery challenge
because it chronicles the
undercover investigation of a true crime.
I didn’t set out to read two-fers
but some of them just
ended up that way.]