Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams - TLC Blog Tour

Losing My Cool
Thomas Chatterton Williams
Penguin Press
April 2010

"There is no such thing as being "half-white", for black, they explained, is less a biological category than a 'social' is a culture, a challenge, and a discipline."(5)

This is more a "reaction" than a review. Losing My Cool caught me off guard without means to separate my childhood from Williams' in the sense of the choices I've made, and continue to make, on what it means for me to be "black".

In Losing My Cool, Thomas Chatterton Williams describes his desire to become more like the brothers he saw on BET and heard on the radio.  He wanted to embrace that black culture and subsequently enrolled in a mostly black private high school where he could "keep it real" through the way he dressed "Corgi all the way", loved "running game" and lived "just as hard".  All the while he studied and played chess with his father after school and on weekends.  Williams felt the lessons he learned from his dad were things he did but didn't define who he was.  Or who he thought he wanted to be.  Williams was a thug complete with Pants on The Ground, the requisite "ho" and homies.  He partied - there's a scene he describes of a prom night  where he and two other guys swapped girls just because.  But he still made it into Georgetown.

At Georgetown, he spent more time partying at nearby Howard University because studious brothers were at the "bottom of the pyramid." Throughout that first year Williams started forming tentative friendships with his dorm mates.  He decided not to "self-segregate".  Instead he started to re-examine some of the choices he'd made and wondered how he'd let BET govern his actions and define his sense of self.

That summer between freshman and sophomore years, Williams opened his eyes.  He noticed the people he'd aligned himself with and decided he wasn't that person anymore.  He read and he connected with his parents and he learned more about his past and his future. He went back to Georgetown but it's as if he's received a mulligan.  "Men would prefer anything rather than be free" - This is where Williams really started to get back on track.  He studied Dostoyevsky and compared his work to his own past and decided to take the road less traveled.

When Williams walks us through his father's house of books and I can only feel bereft.  Why didn't I know these books?  Why have I shied away from them?

This book left me contemplative.  I decided I needed to define who I am. I've spent many years trying to be invisible.  I didn't want my color to be a hindrance.  But, by doing so, I've limited myself.  This was the legacy I received but it won't be the one I pass on.  I thank TLC Blog Tours and Thomas Chatterton Williams for leading me in the right direction. Now, I've got some reading to do.

About the Author
Thomas Chatterton Williams holds a B.A. in philosophy from Georgetown University and a master’s degree from the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University. While a student at NYU, his op-ed piece, “Yes, Blame Hip-Hop,” struck a deep nerve when it ran in the Washington Post, generating a record-breaking number of comments. He writes for the literary magazine n+1 and currently lives in Brooklyn.

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Thomas Chatterton Williams’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Thursday, June 24th: Mocha Mom
Friday, June 25th: (vlog)
Monday, June 28th: Rundpinne
Tuesday, June 29th: Gunfighter


  1. I didn't realize the author started off wearing sagging pants and hanging with "hos and homies." Now I'm really interested in reading about what brought on this change. Plus I want to go read "Blame Hip Hop" :)

    Thank you for mixing in your own personal experience, I love that in reviews. It's so sad that we feel like our color is a hindrance, something that prevents us from being closer to the "ideal".

  2. It sounds like this book really struck a deep and powerful emotional chord with you. Thank you for the 'reaction' (which is the best kind of review, I think). We really appreciate you being on the tour.


Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


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