Can I tell you all something? Reading this book made me feel all of my 40 (soon to be 41) years. I am old enough to remember when, Will Smith, also known as Wilford C. Smith, II, was just this half-way cute dude named the Fresh Prince was on YO! MTV RAPS with DJ Jazzy Jeff! I am old enough to remember Parents Just Don’t Understand, and I can beat Tyson, and the first time Summertime ever played on Majic 108 (a local radio station here in St. Louis, Missouri).
In other words, I grew up with Will Smith. I watched him go from a young man unsure and just OUTCHEA, to a man trying his best to do this thing called life right. In reading this book (and Will pulls no punches!), I realize why it was I had always liked him.
I mean, liked him because he was fine (and he still is!), but there was a quietness to him that I was drawn to–that I liked! I mean, I like it to the point that I started to seek it out in other men that I dated! I like the diamonds in the rough–like Will.
But this book? Oh, yes (this is another book that I recommend the Audible version of–Will reads it!)! I recommend this memoir because will talks about EVERYTHING! Even doesn’t shy way from how awkward he was, how slept on he was, even the time he was in his cowboy boot phase and busted his WHOLE HEAD on the basketball court trying to dunk (spoiler: he didn’t make that dunk). He even talks about his father’s alcoholism and how he beat his mom, and his grandmother (his mom’s mom) knew about it.
This book displays a level of vulnerability that a lot of Black men do not allow themselves to have. That is needed, necessary and valuable.
This books gives glimpse into the life of a man who by his own admission and voice dedicated himself to the career he has now–because he could see it. Because he could see it.
From a dorky, nerdy, Black kid in Philly to the this man who can walk in anywhere in the universe and someone will know who he is! Let is not sleep on that! In the 14 plus hours that this book is, I would be here all day listing my favorite parts! But what I have to emphasize is his honesty, his vulnerability, and how careful he is with his word choice (a writer too?! I see you, Will, I see you).
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This book reminded me that every young Black man I see, has a two-fold story: one that he needs to tell, and the world that needs to hear.
We hear you Will, we hear you.