Maya Angelou reflects on Buck: A Memoir by MK Asante:
“In an environment where race, religion, creed, and financial status have painful power, this book, Buck by MK Asante, was inevitable. When I saw the title of the book, I was reminded of an advertisement praising the power of linens sold by one of America’s powerful cotton mills. The illustration chose a young handsome Indian climbing out of a rumpled hammock, a beautiful Native American girl lies in the hammock; her face shows that she is very tired and she holds a crumpled dollar bill. The young Native American man leans exhausted against the pole which holds up the hammock. The legend informs the viewer that this is an image of a Buck well spent.
I may have been 13 or 14 years old when I saw that ad in one of the nation’s important magazines. I thought then how the Native American was hated, scorned, and reviled. Aunt Jemima’s pancake flour and Uncle Ben’s rice were equally used with despairingly illustrations denoting the presence of the African American.
As I read MK Asante’s book and saw the times he lived in, the vulgarity his family experienced, I realized the statement, “the more things change, the more they remain the same”. It would be erroneous and dangerous to suggest that things have not changed for the better. When we realize some of the CEO’s of American leading corporations and Presidents and Chancellors of top American universities and even the President of our country are African American, it would be dangerous not to admit and admire the changes which have taken place. Asante’s book, however, reminds us while we have made some inroads on the negative power of racism, our work remains to be done.
I commend MK Asante. Buck is a story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.
Yes, MK Asante, please continue to live, to accept your liberation, to accept how valuable you are to your country and admit that you are very necessary to us all.