on August 23rd 2016
Published by Time
Since retiring from professional basketball as the NBA's all-time leading scorer, six-time MVP, and Hall of Fame inductee, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has become a lauded observer of culture and society, a New York Times bestselling author, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post, TIME magazine and TIME.com.
He now brings that keen insight to the fore in Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White, his most incisive and important work of non-fiction in years. He uses his unique blend of erudition, street smarts and authentic experience in essays on the country's seemingly irreconcilable partisan divide - both racial and political, parenthood, and his own experiences as an athlete, African-American, and a Muslim. The book is not just a collection of expositions; he also offers keen assessments of and solutions to problems such as racism in sports while speaking candidly about his experiences on the court and off.
This is the first book by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that I have read. I didn’t even know that he was an author until last year at BEA when he was there. I didn’t try to get a ticket to his signing but I was working my way through a crowd at one point and ended up standing right beside him. The crowd was actually his line. I now know that I’m the same height as Kareem when he is sitting in a chair.
“One thing all that history has taught me is the dangers of the uninformed, quickly formed and ill-informed opinion. Passionate defense of bad logic is the main cause of most of the world’s misery.”
That is the main theme of this book. Don’t be lazy. Learn about issues. Look at all the sides before coming to a conclusion. Be willing to change your mind as you learn more.
“When I was a child, I remember adults complaining that voting often came down to selecting the lesser of two evils. I still hear that today. But while it feels cathartic to blame elected officials and demonize them for their many failings, the sad truth is that we voters are the real villains in this story. Our profound laziness and unyielding arrogance as voters have allowed our system to become polluted by hucksters, egomaniacs, dimwits and mack-daddy pimps willing to rent out their stable of votes.”
I started out wanting to underline everything in this book. Kareem has a strong point of view on many issues. He explains them well, often using pop culture references to get his point across. I think the broad scope of the book wore me down by the end. It started to feel like, “And another thing I’m mad about is…” I think this book would be better read by dipping in and out of chapters over a longer period of time instead of reading it straight through in order to get it back to the library. That being said, I think this is a book that is very worth reading. He ties in his own life experience as a person who has lived most of his life in the public eye, including during his conversion to Islam. I will look into some of his other books also after reading this one.