What happens when you take a spoonful of comedy, a dose of conspiracy theory, and heaping of African American history? Well, you get Dick Gregory’s Defining Moments in Black History.
Another reviewer hit the nail on the head. Gregory is like the crazy uncle who loves to tell stories. He mixes truth with a little bit of crazy and a whole lot of comedy.
The challenge with this book is that, I believe, some of the valuable insights are lost because of the conspiracy theory stuff. It’s hard to take seriously. Sometimes, unless you really know your history, it’s difficult to discern what is a joke, what is part of the conspiracy twirling about in Gregory’s head, and what is good and true. Unfortunately, I believe in the end it takes away some of the value of the book.
On the other hand, maybe Gregory is smarter then we give him credit for. History has clearly been whitewashed and this is his attempt at painting history with darker brush strokes. Maybe, just maybe, that’s his point. History has been written by the majority. And it is shaped and molded by that majority. When Gregory walks through African American history he colors it through his own lens. I tend to believe that he is seeking to attack that whitewashing by giving us a comedic-conspiracy laden Black History. Could he be saying something along these lines: “well, you have whitewashed history and your interpretation of it is a bit crazy. So here I am going to do the same thing with Black history. And I’m gonna do it to prove my point: that you have whitewashed history.” If such is the case, then Gregory is actually rather brilliant.
Regardless of Gregory’s intent, Defining Moments is most certainly NOT a dull read. My only suggestion – as has been the suggestion of others – is to not read it alone. Maybe Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Life Upon These Shores.