A Review: The Book of Obsidian: A Manual for the 21st Century Black American Gentleman

Reviewed by Lee Hubbard

The prolific writer, novelist and essayist Ishmael Reed has been called a writing pugilist, based on everything he puts to paper. He is always fighting and likewise, social media personality and DJ Mumia Obsidian Ali can be viewed in that same light.

Ali, is a fighter for the everyday black man, in his radio shows and on his YouTube platform.  The 52-year-old Philadelphia native is one of the most influential voices online, as one of the co-founders of the Black Manosphere, the African American section on YouTube, which deals with helping uplift black men. The black Manosphere, has content creators dealing with self-improvement, popular culture, family development, hip-hop culture, history and mating and dating, which is probably the biggest subject on the black Manosphere.

Let’s face it, black men are into women and they are trying to find ways to have sex, get into a relationship with a women or get jump the broom.   Men want to date and mate and they are looking for solutions to these problems relating to the opposite sex, picking the right partner, love, dealing with betrayal and heartbreak. While YouTube is largely male dominated media platform in its viewers and users,  the black Manosphere, is starting to get a larger gathering of women viewers, who are interested in finding out what men are thinking.

Some women who come onto the black Manosphere, may be startled,  as women hear unfiltered men’s opinion.  This has caused come critics to call the black Manosphere, misogynistic. Dr. Aaron Fountain, a history professor at Indiana University, is one critic.  Fountain has called the black Manosphere “a swirling pit of hatred directed squarely at black women.” While it may hold some differing  views that could be considered hot takes, male feminist critics like Fountain and his female counterparts, have to admit the Black Manosphere media platform is giving a voice to a voiceless subset within the African American community, the Black man.

This can be seen with growing success of YouTube personality and professional image consultant Kevin Samuels, who has crossed over from the black Manosphere,  to black popular culture and even beyond.  This also be can seen with the first manifesto of the black Manosphere, Obsidian Ali’s recently released book, the Book of Obsidian: A manual for the 21st Century Black American Gentleman.

Ali’s book is the first one to come from out of the Black Manosphere, and its a 450-page reader that deals with black dating and black male and female relationships. This has been a large focus of his weekly podcasts, over the past four years. He believes the situation between black men and women is dire.

“Successful black men and women, just can’t get along, especially when you consider that when Black Americans under the heel of Jim Crow itself, were more married then Whites,” writes Ali.

Today the black marital rate is about 29 percent and most kids in black America are born in single female headed households. Ali ‘s book, is made up of new essays and a larger compilation of essays, which were written for the Negromanosphere, an online web publication, started by Oshay Duke Jackson, another founding father of the Black Manosphere.

Like Ali’s witty and combative talking style on the microphone, his book reads as if he is talking.  He paints a complicated situation, which he says black relationships are broken, based on an old paradigm of the black male image, which is not accurate. This image dates back to the late 1970s through the 1990s, as black men were portrayed on daytime television, in the media and in song as irresponsible, in prison, on drugs, unemployed or unambitious.  This led to many black women to ask, “where are the black men at?”

One of the first things he does in the book is to dispel this myth, which is often still repeated and echoed in American society and black popular culture.

“Not only do more black men attend and graduate from college today,” writes Ali. “There are actually more of them doing do than at any other point in American history.”

“Contrary to the sullied opinion black female advocates have been pushing for decades, the gap between degreed black men and women is not at all as large as we’ve been erroneously led to believe,” continues Ali.

He writes the negative perception of black men, makes black women feel they don’t have suitable mates, when this is far from the truth. In many cases, modern black women have to be held accountable for the current situation regarding marriages and relationships in the black community, according to Ali   More than fifty-two percent of black men have never been married and are childless.   Of those black men that are married, eighty-five percent have black wives.  Black men are more likely to be married then black women, as close to five hundred thousand more black men are married then black women, according to statistics from Black Demographics.com.

This is rarely acknowledged, due to the influence of the Black Love Machine.  This machine has been the culprit in the negative image making of the 21st century black male. The Black Love Machine made up of largely media female gate keepers ranging from Oprah Winfrey, Ivanla Vanzant, to publications such as Essence, Ebony, Madamenoire, the Grio and Lipstick Alley.  The black love machine according to Ali also has a black contingent of male accomplices, made up of people such as Derek Jaxn, Michael Baisden, Steve Harvey, Dr. Umar Johnson, Hill Harper and Ace Metaphor among many others.

The book of Obsidian, is broken up into two parts. The macro which gives Ali’s takes on newspaper stories and events that look at dating topics. It also takes a micro examination of issues, in  which Ali deals with how to situations in mating and dating . In this section, Ali makes a self-proclamation, calling himself a dating coach for the non-select guy, a term coined by Rom Wills a black relationship author and content creator on YouTube.

While the “select guy” is the man who is a woman’s first dating choice, based on his height, looks, body and or income. The non-select guy is the underdog man, who has often been overlooked by women his entire life.

“Non select guys have many gifts, talents and abilities that are actually quite highly valued outside much of contemporary Black America; this is particularly true, unfortunately, along dating and mating lines,” writes Ali. “Just because we (non-select guys) don’t fit the very narrow idea of what an ideal black man is in the mind of many black women, does that somehow disqualify us from a good life, good times or love?”

As a non-select dating coach, Ali gives the how to, to guys on how to relate to women, dress, style and carry yourself in dealing with modern women. Readers might want to inquire what makes Ali believe he can give good information just like all of the so-called experts.

“There are no qualifications to be a black love doctor- well none in a formal, empirical sense that actually speaks to, you know, actually getting into and maintaining a functional, healthy black relationship or marriage,” writes Ali. “The only qualifications you need to have are a following on social media, and either be really conspicuously handsome and or seriously funny/loaded.”

Ali is being comical in a sense, he is also very serious. You can see the self-love ambassadors, all over social media in the 21st century. With self-affirmations, slogans and sayings, these love ambassadors have set up an atmosphere where no one tells hard truths about what men want and desires and what is really going on in male/female relationships.  Thus, black women are sold a Disneyland fantasy on relationships, which leaves them bitter against black men and most of them single and unmarried, according to census statistics.

“That means there’s seriously golden opportunity for someone like me to stake my claim and plant my flag,” continues Ali.

At times the book drags on, as its probably 100 pages to long, but you get the point that Ali has a lot to say and get off his chest. So much so, he has stated, that the Book of Obsidian, will be the first in a trilogy, kind of like the Rocky boxing series, which like Ali is set in Philadelphia.

In order to understand the atmosphere, black America is in when it comes to dating and relationships, Ali’s book of Obsidian will give you an overview on how we got to where we are and where things are going to go. He said there needs to be a reset dealing with relationships and a reexamination of how black men and women relate to each other, as we move on with the rest of the 21st century.

 

The Book of Obsidian can be purchased online at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Booksamillion.com, Bookbaby.com and various other online and book stores across the country.

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About Lee Hubbard 2 Articles
Lee Hubbard is San Francisco bay area based journalist who has written about politics, hip hop, sports, and African American culture for various papers and publications across the country, He can be reached by e-mail at superle@sbcglobal.net.