When was the last time you said everything on your mind without holding back? In this no-holds-barred discussion of America’s top hot-button issues, a journalist and a cultural anthropologist express opinions that are widely held in private—but rarely heard in public.
Everyone edits what they say. It’s a part of growing up. But what if we applied tell-it-like-it-is honesty to grown-up issues? In Impolite Conversations, two respected thinkers and writers openly discuss five “third-rail” topics—from multi-racial identities to celebrity worship to hyper-masculinity among black boys—and open the stage for honest discussions about important and timely concerns.
Organized around five subjects—Race, Politics, Sex, Money, Religion—the dialogue between Cora Daniels and John L. Jackson Jr. may surprise, provoke, affirm, or challenge you. In alternating essays, the writers use reporting, interviews, facts, and figures to back up their arguments, always staying firmly rooted in the real world. Sometimes they agree, sometimes they don’t, but they always reach their conclusions with respect for the different backgrounds they come from and the reasons they disagree.
Whether you oppose or sympathize with these two impassioned voices, you’ll end up knowing more than you did before and appreciating the candid, savvy, and often humorous ways in which they each take a stand.
The subjects may be "impolite," but the alternating essays between cultural anthropologist Jackson (Harlemworld) and journalist Daniels (Black Power Inc.) are certainly not. Whether discussing politics, sex, money, or religion, at its core, these are conversations about race. The longtime friends more often disagree by degree than by opposition. Daniels hopes for a less church-defined attitude toward female sexuality (discussed in the essay "Let's pray for sexually active daughters"), and Jackson, in "There's a conspiracy to hypermasculinize black boys," considers "the social vulnerability of black boys and men." When it comes to money, "We're not movin' on up" from Daniels's perspective, while Jackson tweaks the class and race-oriented perspective that dismisses hip-hop as "barely music at all." In two particularly memorable essays, Daniels wrestles with the personal and tiresome question asked of biracial people ("What are you?") and Jackson gets downright Swiftian, proposing "a government-sponsored program that allows whites to pay blacks for the right and privilege of saying the N-word in their presence." The book is best consumed in small doses, but the discussion is intelligent and thought-provoking.