He Talk Like a White Boy: Reflections on Faith, Family, Politics and Authenticity.

Author:Simon, Denise
Position:Book review

He Talk Like a White Boy: Reflections on Faith, Family, Politics and Authenticity by Joseph C. Phillips Running Press, May 2006 $22.95, ISBN 0-762-42399-6

You might remember Joseph C. Phillips as Cliff Huxtable's son-in-law on The Cosby Show or perhaps from his role opposite actress Halle Berry in the film Strictly Business. More recently, Phillips has made a name for himself as a columnist and a cultural critic who maintains strong ties to the Republican Party.

In his new book, He Talk Like a White Boy, Phillips devotes a lot of space to discussing his views on conservatism, liberalism and everything in between. He also writes about his experiences as a husband and father and the events that shaped him into the man he is today. The essays (more than 40 of them) reflect Phillips's desire to challenge "the one-dimensional portrayal of black life in our cultural discourse" and "the limits placed upon black individuality."

The question of authenticity and what it means to be black in America has been addressed many times before, but Phillips makes it personal, using the successes and failures of his own life to speak to larger issues. Thus, instead of just writing about family values, he speaks about his father's emotional distance and his own struggles in raising his sons. Rather than simply praising the institution of marriage, he writes about the realities of his own fulfilling, but imperfect union. Phillips writes about his personal affairs with warmth, candor, intelligence and good humor and in doing so, he fully engages the reader's interest.

However, when Phillips addresses broader political or...

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