Losing My Cool

Monday, May 17, 2010

Thomas Chatterton Williams gives an account of being drawn in to hip-hop culture and how his father drew him out again. 

InLosing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture he explains how, as a teenager, he did whatever he could to fit into the hip-hop culture that surrounded him and how his father wanted a different kind of life for him.

Thomas Chatterton Williams will be speaking and signing books
Thursday, June 3, at 7:30 pm
Greenlight Bookstore
686 Fulton Street

Thursday, June  3


Thomas Chatterton Williams

Comments [13]

kitty40 from Fanwood, NJ

People can live in the same town, go to the same schools and have different experiences. The life experience of whites, blacks and bi-racials are very different. You can't express your experiences in Fanwood apply them to everyone else. I think TCW was expressing his own personal experiences.

May. 27 2010 05:04 PM
SSM from Fanwood from Fanwood, NJ

The truth is that I did not listen to this entire broadcast, but after reading these comments I felt the need to add to them. I have lived in Fanwood for 4 years now. I guess TCW is somewhat right in that there are predominately Black families near McGinn School and Kramer Park; however, I feel that the remainder of the borough has a nice diversity that is not commonly seen in small suburban communities. On my block, for example, the couple across the street from me is a mixed couple, the family directly next door is black, the family two doors down is a mixed couple and the family across from them is Black. This may not be a fair representation of every street in town, but I know that the diversity that I feel exists was one of the main reasons I chose to buy a house here.

May. 27 2010 01:27 PM

This is several days after the interview, so I have no idea if anyone will read this, but I have to say several things:

I am very disappointed at the generally negative tone of the comments. As someone who grew up not far from Fanwood, and who was investigating a teaching career, I think this is a subject very much for our time. Young black men are under a lot of peer pressure to 'act' a certain way, and unfortunately that often includes an anti-education component. It's cooler to be hangin' out than to be studying.

* While hip-hop music does have validity and has made its imprint on society as a whole, the fact is that the lyrics are very often problematic and sometimes racist themselves.

* There are lots of Catholic schools in the Fanwood area: I have no idea why the commenter claims it 'does not add up.'

Unfortunately, when Bill Cosby tried to stress some similar things about the black community's sometimes misplaced priorities, he was blasted as 'losing' his black identity. I was hoping the election of a mixed race President - who very much identifies with his black culture, and at the same time was an excellent student in the best schools - would start to steer things in a better direction. But apparently not, to go by the tone of this comment thread.

May. 21 2010 03:13 PM
a g from nj

jeff from nj- i don't understand a single thing you've said. seriously.

May. 17 2010 09:30 PM
Jeff from NJ

This is mostly a class issue, as most things are in the world, not a race issue. Many white people experience the same thing when moving up the ladder from a white trash or redneck background and it is rarely a talk show topic in the media.

That being said...I find it predictable that the generally liberal, elitist-mentality, audience of WNYC is uncomfortable with the image of a black man outside of someone who needs to be coddled and hand-held by whites and not allow him and his black father to be credited with his success and self chosen identity.

May. 17 2010 09:22 PM
Yvonne from NYC

Dear Leonard Lopate Show,

I'd like to know what music was played immediately before this segment of your program today?

May. 17 2010 07:58 PM
Thomas from New York City

As a rule, I don't respond to comments on the internet, but I will here. There is, and long has been, a black pocket in Fanwood. It is located over by Kramer Park. It certainly is not anywhere near as large as the white side of town, but it exists. Furthermore, in the book I make it clear that I grew up in Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Fanwood is very small and surrounded on three sides by Scotch Plains, and the two towns share a lot of things including a high school and a train station. I grew up on the border of Scotch Plains, and called both towns home for all intents and purposes. And there is surely also a black side of Scotch Plains. It is over by Farley Park and it borders on Plainfield. One more thing: When real estate agents steer you to one pocket (or side) of town over another based on the color of your skin--as was the case when my family was looking at listings in 1980--then that is in fact a form of informal segregation.


May. 17 2010 07:12 PM
a g from nj

i know this is after the show.
it seems to me by the comments that people are confusing mixed race as a family unit with diverse background,with people of a more singularly defined origin living among others family units of varying origin.

May. 17 2010 02:56 PM
JKL from Fanwood NJ

I had to look up this guy cause I thought I heard incorrectly when he said he lived on the white side of Fanwood. I am feeling as Kelly from NJ. I moved to Fanwood from Brooklyn in 1985 and still live here. I know of no white or black side. My neighbors across the street are an interracial couple and are here longer than me, the neighbors who were around the corner from them when I moved here were a black family (FBI agent) and then moved to Va. I chose Fanwood because it was racially diverse and for the suburbs, way more tolerant than other suburban towns. I know just as many black families on the other side of town. I really have no idea what Thomas is talking about.

May. 17 2010 01:42 PM
rachel from manhattan

This is the most racist segment I've ever heard on Lopate - and that's saying something for this show. Since when do hip-hop and intellectualism have to be mutually exclusive?

May. 17 2010 01:21 PM
Thoams Palasits from Fanwood, NJ

I would like to know which Catholis Schools he went to. His story does not add up.

May. 17 2010 01:21 PM
Jim from Roselle Park

There is no white side/black side to Fanwood. I just looked it up. Fanwood is 85% white, 5% black. Fanwood could be considered middle class, but that is a broad declaration. Median income is $105,000. Median home price is over $400,000. Nearby Plainfield is a different story with 85% black, but Fanwood is 7,000 population and Plainfield is 80,000..

May. 17 2010 01:19 PM
Kelly from NJ

I grew up in Fanwood, NJ (45 years) and I would like to know where the "black side of town" is hat Thomas refers to. The town is only 1 square mile so I think I know most of the "sides" of town. In my experience, and my family's, black people and white people lived amongst each other in this non-segregated commuter town which is a great place to raise a family. I am deeply hurt that Thomas has publicly given Fanwood a "black-eye."

May. 17 2010 01:18 PM

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