If you've read earlier posts, I mentioned how I came to appreciate that street culture/blaxploitation is captured in the media. However, like many of you, I hate when others think that "the streets" are the only story that a Black person has to tell. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, people thought Alex Haley, Maya Angelou and other noted literary figures told the Black Experience, or who had an interesting story to tell.
While I liked some of those stories, I wanted to hear something different. School book clubs and ABC Afterschool Specials (yep, like when Jan Brady was a street ho) scratched the surface but I wanted something that was grittier. Which was strange for a teen who lived in a section of Inglewood that was quickly changing from a White liberal/Black suburb to a 'hood that was featured on the 5 o'clock news regularly for drug-related crimes.
In my mother's quest to try the 'burbs thing again, I used to wander through Waldenbooks at Fox Hills Mall often. For those who didn't remember, there was no Internet, no coffee bar (overpriced or otherwise), no hipsters looking through art books by Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol, not even eclectic or acid jazz selections. Just books and people looking to buy books, not mistake it for a library.
Since I'm a fast reader, it only took a couple of pages for me to see that Donald Goines was what I had been looking for. All the grit, funk and those pieces of honesty that I would see in Terry McMillan years later.
So almost like clockwork, I would visit the Black Books sections at least once a month to buy the next in his series, which were semi-autobiographical tales of crime, drugs and pimping. Him, Iceberg Slim and others opened me up to another world to which I could visualize from a safe distance and escape.
It was around this time, I learned that a video store on Manchester in Inglewood (now closed) specialized in blaxploitation movies as well as indie films of that time.
Recently, TVOne paid a little homage to the late Mr. Goines in an account of his life as probably the first Black Urban-style author known to this generation. Enjoy!
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