Eventually, There Will be Answers

by Rachel Baker on September 13, 2014

I just finished reading a good summary review of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. I’ve had the opportunity to review this book a few times, but passed on it due to several other commitments. After reading several different reviews about the book, I will be adding it to my fall reading list.

The last few months have brought to the forefront a whole lot of sociological questions about race, violence and economic stability, all of which seem to be incredibly difficult to answer. One of the most interesting things I find about this book is that a white man is writing about the tragic drug related death of a black man who was his friend. When something like this makes it into the news, people have a wonderfully ridiculous way of turning the other cheek when it comes to a story like this when the news happens. In the darkest crevices of our minds, where no one else is allowed in, we have to admit with brutal honesty that no one cares about any man (white or black) found dead in an apartment from apparent drug related causes.

Don’t believe me? Answer this question then – why are almost al of the reviews about this book sure to mention that Robert Peace went to Yale. Why is it important to point out that this black man was different – he went to Yale, for God’s sake! Like Robert Peace is the only black man in America that went to Yale and was funny and kind and loyal. Like he’s the only Yale student who sold drugs on campus. Like no other student in the history of Yale eschewed their Ivy League education and went on to do something below who they were ‘supposed to be’. Robert Peace is being eulogized by his friend who is trying to make sense of his death. It doesn’t matter that Robert Peace came from poverty, had a way out and blew it; and his white friend is trying to make sense of it.  Sure, there is social commentary to be discussed about this, but it doesn’t matter one iota that the guy went to Yale – this happens every single day and no one talks about every single one, and often times they don’t even make the headlines.

The review story isn’t and shouldn’t be about how this black man was different because he went to Yale and now his white friend is trying to ask all these damn questions about how this could have happened. The review stories should be about the quality of the writing and the merit of the analysis. Anything less than that is a summary of the book and not a review. This is Robert Peace’s story, for better or for worse; and someone’s life story isn’t reviewable as five stars or not. Not once have I read a review that told me why I should read this book, or why it is important to our society right now (though a few places have intimated as such).

Don’t get me wrong though, I want to see more books like this – with the caveat being I don’t care if someone went to Yale or Dartmouth, any other prominent school, or even graduated high school. I care that a person, for whatever reason, lived a short and tragic life. I believe we should not turn a blind eye to the death; but instead through said person’s story, ask the difficult questions that should be asked and make policy that should be made to ensure everyone has the ability to exercise their rights to the pursuit of happiness and prosperity, regardless of their race, creed, family history, gender, gender identity or anything else that creates boundaries.

…but that’s just me. I am going to read the book, and think about the questions that need to be asked. Maybe there are no answers to be found right now, but we should probably ask the questions anyway.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Amazon Wish ListEvernoteFlipboardInstapaperNewsVineSpringpadWordPressTypePad PostStumbleUponLiveJournalPocketRedditShare

Previous post:

Next post: