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Category Archives: BLACK Book Reviews

Providing our audience with lists of Books which cater to the Black community or written by African American individuals

Meet Zane Massey- Author of “Beyond The Statistics”

Zane Massey

Zane M. Massey was born in Kingston, New York to an African-American mother and a Jewish father. He lived there until the age of two with his grandmother while his mother was stationed in Mississippi with the U.S. Air Force. When she returned from active duty, young Zane moved to Harlem, New York.

At the age of nine, Zane exhibited an interest in earning his own money while working his first job as a fruit salesman on the back of a local food truck in Harlem. From that point on, he realized that in order to become a highly successful executive or business mogul, you had to have a passion for learning, an interest in entrepreneurship, and most importantly – an education. Outlets such as work provided Zane a welcomed distraction from his often chaotic home life, where he moved frequently as his mother battled unemployment and drug addiction in order to provide a stable environment.

Zane’s academic and athletic talents led him to Xavier High School in New York City. At Xavier, he excelled in academics as well as in athletics, playing on the varsity basketball team. After high school, Zane attended Clark Atlanta University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. While at CAU, he was initiated into Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, a Greek organization exemplifying the ideals of Brotherhood, Scholarship and Service while taking an inclusive perspective to serving the community through its various programs. After graduation, Zane returned to Harlem where he applied for and received a fellowship through Fordham University to teach English and mathematics to seventh and eighth graders.

In 2001, Zane received an offer of employment from global insurance company Marsh & McLennan. One of the toughest decisions he had to make was to leave the education profession but he realized that he could not pass up the chance to improve his financial situation while learning invaluable business skills. He accepted Marsh’s offer, working within their Investor Relations department. While at Marsh, Zane obtained a Master’s Degree in Finance from Fordham University’s Executive MBA Program. After parting ways with Marsh, he went on to hold several finance positions with healthcare companies, namely Becton Dickinson and Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

Outside of Corporate America, Zane aspires to educate the youth about access to various professions while promoting the emotional development of the youth through his first book, entitled “Beyond the Statistics.” He hopes to continue in the footsteps of strong community leaders in their efforts to foster the intellectual, moral and spiritual well-being of inner city youth.

BTS Cover

Q & A with Zane Massey

 

BS: What inspired you to pursue a career in Finance?  Where did your interest in serving the community and its youths initiate?

Zane Massey: I actually think Finance picked me in a sense. While attending Clark Atlanta University, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I actually majored in Marketing, because tapping into the mind of the consumer really interested me. I wanted to learn the psychology of business and why people buy what they buy. Finance, however, is something that I view as necessary.

While it is important to understand how the customer thinks, it is just as crucial to be able to measure profitability or how valuable your company is. If you are doing business and not making any money, then it doesn’t make since. Finance is necessary in every business in any industry. It was all about being well-rounded for me.

My interest in serving the community came about, because I am a product of the community. I am from Harlem, NY and I was considered an “at risk” youth, when I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. While the demographics of my community has changed over the last decade, young African-American and Latino men and women born in my community are still particularly underserved.

Yes, it is true that there are more economic resources and general information on jobs, health, and other programs available, but there is a genuine lack of more established people taking a vested interest in our youth. These young men and women are deemed the “lost generation”, but what some people fail to understand is that some of these young people have a lot to offer and can be “saved.”

Personally, if I can help any young person out, I will do it, because once upon a time, I was one bad decision away from jail, drugs, or death.

 

BS: How important is education to you?  How much of a role did education have in your success?

Zane Massey: Education is of the utmost importance! Carter G. Woodson, one of the most important civil rights figures in black history, had a saying in his book “The Mis-Education of the Negro”, that stuck with me.. He said, “every man has two educators: ‘that which is given to him, and the other that which he gives himself.”

Woodson said that the latter was more important.  This education that man gives himself will teach him (or her) to live a more purposeful life. You can learn this through independent study, exploring the world, following a dream – this is all an education that will allow you to be the best person you can be.  Also of importance, by today’s standards, is receiving a formal education through higher education. There are some brilliant people who are billionaires that never went to or completed college. However, these are very exceptional and blessed people. For most people, I believe that you can use a formal education as a platform to educate yourself in order to be successful on your own terms.

For me, formal education – receiving my undergraduate degree and MBA – is helping build my dream of achieving financial freedom. The salary I make as a bi-product of formal education has essentially provided me the seed money to write a book, start a publishing company, go into business with my family (ZionsEssentials.com – I had to plug it). So for me, I needed both types of education and they both are serving me well.

BS: What were 3 of the most important lessons that you have learned over the history of your career?

Zane Massey:

  1. 1.    People respect your integrity more that your intellect.
  2. 2.    At the end of the day, it is important to maintain your dignity, no matter what professional obstacles you have thrown your way. Always be respectful and always command respect.
  3. 3.    It’s always better to be a good listener as opposed to a good talker. The more you listen, the more you understand what people are really thinking. This can help you understand people and their true motives. Tapping into this aspect of listening will also allow you to tap into ways that you can improve your performance.

BS: What motivates you in difficult times?

Zane Massey: Having a wife and family to help support is my biggest motivator. Knowing that they always “have my back” really inspires me to do my personal best for them. Also, I really want to help people – I really care. So at the end of the day, if I can help someone to be better – even if it’s just baby steps – then that motivates me. Being impactful is motivation!

BS: What are your thoughts on mentoring?  Did it have any impact on your life?

Zane Massey: Mentoring is a vital component to our community and who I am as a person. My personal motto is “You never know who you are to someone else.” Some people think you have to be famous or affluent to mentor. That’s ridiculous! My 5th grade teacher was one of my greatest mentors. He made a difference in helping me to understand how valuable I am as a person. What if he was only concerned with receiving his paycheck and maintaining the status quo? I’m so thankful for this man, who was just a “regular guy” from Harlem. If it wasn’t for him putting in the time with me with schoolwork, sports, and just being there for me – I would not be here today!

BS: What did you enjoy most about your teaching opportunity through Fordham University, teaching 7th and 8th graders?

Zane Massey: I enjoyed being able to connect with some of my students. I think teaching is one of the most important professions in the world. The real teachers out there really don’t get enough credit. When I say real, I mean the ones who take a vested interest in our youth. These are the teachers that tell stories of overcoming their own obstacles, expanding lessons beyond the basic curriculum. These are the teachers that stay afterschool to work with their students even though they aren’t getting paid for it.  Some of my former students are in their twenties and when I see them in the street, they remember me as “Mr. Massey”. It still bugs me out when I hear someone calling me that! Being a young teacher at the time helped me to gain respect with many of the 7th and 8th graders. They saw me as “one of them”. To be honest, I really am one of them. I’m cut from the same cloth as them.

BS: Describe your journey leading that lead to you writing your 1st book, “Beyond the Statistics”.

Zane Massey: I tell this story all of the time. I was at work, sitting at my desk several years ago and it was like a message from a higher power just hit me! Sitting there, I began to reflect on all the bullets that I had dodged as a young man. I can go back to my old neighborhood and most of the guys I used to play basketball and hang out with are no longer there. Sure, some of those guys are doing well and providing for themselves and their families, but the majority of them died as a result of the drug game or AIDS/HIV. The rest of them are in jail.

I began to think about why I “made it” and why they didn’t. First of all, I had had faith. I wasn’t in Church every Sunday, but I had a mother and grandmother who made sure I had a decent spiritual base. Next, I chose to hang out with people that were doing positive things, like playing sports and getting good grades. That was very important. So I thought that writing a book about some of these experiences, while incorporating some of my closest friends, was a great way to potentially inspire our youth through the written word.

BS: Was there ever a time when you felt defeated?  How did you cope with that feeling?

Zane Massey: I wouldn’t say defeated. I honestly felt more “delayed” than defeated. From the time I was able to think and rationalize, I strongly believed that I had a purpose. There are times I feel that things aren’t happening fast enough or at the speed I would like them to, but in the end, I know it’s going to happen. Everything happens when it’s supposed to.

When I feel delayed, I just take a deep breath and smile. Then I say to myself, “It will happen when it’s supposed to.” In the meantime, I try my best to put positive thoughts and feelings out into the world. The power of thought and pure consciousness are very real.  Whatever you put out, you will get back.

BS: Why do you have such a passion for Education and Finance?

Zane Massey: I have more passion for knowledge.  As one of my good friends, Dr. Kwame Ohemeng reminded me, knowledge is the only thing in this world that is portable. Your house or apartment can get burned down. You can lose your wallet or have your car stolen. Whatever you commit to learning, no one can take that away from you.

BS: What is the secret to your success?

Zane Massey: Honestly, I just try to be the best “me” that I can be, that’s all. I don’t worry about what I can’t change. Help yourself, help others. It’s just that simple.

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A MAN FROM ANOTHER LAND- Chief Isaiah Washington

         For as long as I can recall, I’ve loved sitting down at the feet of the adults in my family, to listen to their stories. Whether they were of my parents’ journey to America, in search of the American dream, or the elaborate tales of grandeur by my father, telling how great our homeland Haiti was before a certain President stripped it of its wealth—the acres of land owned by his family, and the position he held as an educator in the school system, and how respected he was by his peers; The abundance of housekeepers, drivers, and caretakers that our family possessed. But, have my mother tell the story, Haiti was filled with heartache and sorrow, with the exception of the landscape, her wonderful friends, and the school that she attended. She seldom spoke of her own family; in fact she never spoke of them. It was not until more recently that I learned of the history of my mother’s family and their ties to Haiti. They had to flee the country in order to save the lives of those rebellious youth demanding change—the countless young people exiled all over the world to spare their lives. The intolerant attitude of the then-reigning government would change everything about that generation, and it would forever change the lives of its natives, and generations to come.
         Those moments meant the world to me. Hearing those stories changed my life. Growing up in America, Brooklyn NY, in an Italian neighborhood (with a few Latinos), it was hard to adjust. So, those story times were so valuable to me. They would be my only connection and memory of Haiti. They would have to hold me for 17 years before a great tragedy would force me back, to witness firsthand my responsibility to my people. Those stories would forever keep me connected to the land of my birth.
         Those stories are also the root of my love of books, literature, history, and the search for information. History was always my strong point in school. I was always fascinated by African-American History—W.E.B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Booker T Washington, Harriet Tubman, and Fredrick Douglass were the subject of many of my studies. Those beautiful people changed the world, my world. They gave me the opportunity to come to this country and have a hopeful outlook for my future. I thought it was an honor just to be able to read about these historical giants. I was in awe of all their accomplishments.
         I am equally impressed by A Man From Another Land, by Isaiah Washington, legendary actor, philanthropist, husband, father, educator, historian and history maker. He is best know for his acting—in Grey’s Anatomy, Love Jones, Romeo Must Die, and Get On The Bus, to name a few. His huge body of work, known to the public and recognized by the masses is just an inkling of the man himself. We often see an individual on the screen and assume that we know him. We allow the tabloids and other media outlets to serve as family albums, giving us a personal view into the private lives of these individuals. Sadly, we accept whatever the press reports as truth. When honestly, the lives of these so-called celebrities may not be as exciting as the stories told to us by the strangers we count on as reliable sources.
         After great pain, heartache, and betrayal by those closest to him, Washington decided to seek out his roots. He went on a quest to find his soul, to heal his spirit, and to connect with his ancestors. He was no longer fulfilled by his work. It no longer served as the drug so many wanted him to be hooked on. So, he journeyed back to the homeland to renew his broken spirit. Or was it broken? I say the journey was to reclaim the position that his grandmother, Savannah Mae Holmes, had taught him to fight for. He came to get back that respect, to stand up for himself. He also came back to rediscover the home cooking his grand-aunt, Muh Dear had always lovingly prepared, the take cover tactics his mother, Faye Marie Washington-McKee had taught him (how to chose your battles wisely). And he came back to “Spread the Love”.
         This book serves as a gateway into Washington’s past. The parallels are beautifully outlined to give us a clear vision of the roads he carefully traveled, and the challenges that earned him his tribal scars. The journey of this dark-skinned boy, watching the abuse of his mother, becoming a man, joining the armed forces, is magnificently recounted: Attending a historical college in search of his Blackness, dealing with the murder of his father, the death of his beloved mother, the death of his mentor/father-figure, marriage and fatherhood. He took his acting career to the pinnacle of success, had it taken away, and then took the time to trace his roots back to Africa, like so many great men and women have tried to do. He rose to be named Chief in his homeland, Sierra Leone.
         This book may someday be classified as one of our generation’s greatest pieces of literature, like Richard Wright’s “Native Son”. To think that so many African-Americans have spent their lives trying to trace their roots back to Africa; seeking the connection that would build their future and fill that void. Washington has accomplished all that his predecessors tried so hard to do. Perhaps they were sent before him, to clear the path for him to claim it as Chief. Could his journey through childhood–the Frazier sisters’ constant verbal and physical abuse, the rides through the forest, the scars he obtained to be the first, the rejection by his college peers, the death and loss–have been the appetizers for the main course that he would enjoy now as royalty?
         How many of us can say that we have sat with kings, princes, dignitaries, and have received invitations from Presidents, past present and future to dine with them or to speak before groups of powerhouses?  Have we seen poverty at its worse, have we looked at death in the face, and survived, while keeping our sanity?
         In my opinion, this piece of literature is more of a diary, and a rite of passage to the real life that awaits Chief Isaiah Washington. My recommendation is that everyone get a copy of the book, read it intently (don’t just skim through it). Meditate on its message. Forget everything that you’ve heard about Isaiah Washington, and read the book up to chapter 15. Then, go look at all the tabloids, and then complete the book. YOUR life will be changed. Join or form a book club, talk about it, ask questions—I promise you will have plenty. Whatever your race may be, you will see yourself in these pages. You will want to find your roots. It explains so much about human behavior. If I ever doubted the concept of Six Degrees of Separation, I doubt it no more. No wonder for so many years, certain races were banned from reading, it is a powerful thing. Let us empower ourselves.
Written by: Myrdith Leon McCormack

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BLACK Cuisine: American Grown

Chicago Grown White House.

She’s a lawyer, community outreach worker, wife to the first African American president and now making her literal debut of the critically acclaimed book “American Grown.”
If you haven’t guessed it… It’s Michelle Obama.

“American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America” The First Lady celebrates healthy eating and gardening. From the beginning Michelle has been WOWing the American people by using freshly home grown produce as opposed to store bought or canned to challenge all of America to turn around a troubling trend in children’s health by putting an end to the epidemic of childhood obesity, hence the campaign “Let’s Move” exercise initiative.

The book is broken down into four categories to depict each season. With recipes from the White House chefs, tips for planting a garden, stories narrated by Mrs. Obama and many colorful eye popping pictures.

All proceeds are donated to The National Park Foundation for programs that promote gardening, healthy eating and to help care for the White House garden.

I confess, I’ve never attempted to plant my own produce but after reading the benefits of nurturing into existence the foods I put in my body, I’m ready to start my own mini garden.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in BLACK Book Reviews

 

YES MA’AM, NO SIR- Coach Ken Carter

Today marks the day of Ken Carter’s, book release Yes Ma’am, No Sir. Ken Carter, known to many as Coach Carter, life was depicted in Blockbuster hit Coach Carter by renown actor Samuel L. Jackson. A tell-all, from his experience and expertise about the necessary tools any aspiring individuals would need for success. Coach Carter brilliantly delivers each tool and method in each passing chapter combining his wit, his humor, and his undeniable ability of leadership and determination to win. As explained within “No Sir Yes M’am”, winning is a mindset and not that of a simple outcome.

This motivational and inspiring book provides readers with an intriguing life story and his remarkable journey to success. Most importantly, anyone and everyone who aspire to achieve any sort of success can most certainly learn from him!

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in BLACK Book Reviews

 

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EXILED TO BROOKLYN- Don Clitandre

Exiled to Brooklyn by Don Clitandre

Excerpts from “Exiled to Brooklyn”

“Out of great ignorance and great despair the secret vultures grew to be one of the most feared in Haitian history at that time. They became the lords of terror. We had suffered before under the French and slavery but now we had no one to blame as the international community looked upon this small island. We were now being oppressed by our own while the rest of the world was moving away from dictatorship and toward a more democratic system.” Exile to Brooklyn Chapter 2

“Haitians are born warriors; they are spiritual warriors of great caliber. The quest for change and enlightenment, the quest for freedom runs deep in the hearts and soul of all Haitians wherever they may be. Deep down, all Haitians know the real price of freedom. We know freedom is not free.” Exile to Brooklyn Chapter 3

“I remember the opening of the metal door, I remember Grandma’s presence, but what I remember the most was the sonic sounds of crickets and the cold wind of change. I felt it in the air. It was called the calm before the storm. Once captured Dad was taken to the nearest prison. Third World prisons are more like holes in the wall. He was forced into the fetal suicidal position on the floor as they began to question and beat him, several blows to the head that would almost cause him later to lose his mind.” Exile to Brooklyn Chapter 3

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in BLACK Book Reviews

 

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“Black Books”- Ladies Man by Frederick Germaine

Ladies Man Book Cover

 

Frederick Germaine writes a novel of  the “it” man. A successful career, handsome, tall, intelligent, and charming. Damien Hardy, through his experience of a bad break up leaving him broken hearted, vows to never allow a women to have the power to betray him again.The author guides his readers through scenarios of entertaining and elicit escapades of Damien Hardy and his carelessness for love with three women. At the peak of this whirlwind tale, {young man] must make a decision and finds himself at the mercy of love breaking the promise he made to himself long ago. He must choose between the women who tore his heart into a million pieces and the women with a questionable life but which his heart has overlooked.

This novel will be hard to put down. Get ready to sit at the edge of your seat as this “must read” takes you on an entertaining spin!

 

 

Website: http://www.frederickgermaine.com

 

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in BLACK Book Reviews