"A Wealth of Family" by Thomas Brooks: Book Review

A Wealth of Family

by Thomas Brooks

Alpha Multimedia, Inc. (2006)

ISBN 0977462935

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (6/06)

“A Wealth of Family” has something to be enjoyed or learned by people from all walks of life, no matter what your gender, socio-economic background or culture. This is a fantastic book. It centers on Brooks upbringing as an adopted black men who wanted to find his roots. I found it difficult to write this review because his story touched me in so many ways, it was hard for me to narrow down which area I enjoyed the greatest or which part of his life experiences taught me the most. In spite of our differences (gender, race, upbringing) I learned a lot about myself as I read. I admire his ability to see the positive learning experiences that come from experiencing negative situations.

Brooks was raised by a very protective, divorced black woman. They had to struggle financially. He had close extended family in his life and a wonderful male role model. In his youth, he learned that he was adopted. His birth mother was a white woman and his father was an African from Kenya. Brooks developed an interest in finding his birth family so that he could learn about his roots.

Throughout his education, Brooks had to deal with racism and poverty. He experienced racism from his friends and teachers. He attended a predominantly white school. Some of his friends would make racist comments based on ignorance without realizing that their beliefs were wrong. Brooks chose to get his revenge by excelling in academics and athletics. Then he had to deal with black-on-black prejudice by being told that he was “acting white” by his black peers.

Brooks was the first in his family to attend college. This was a whole new learning experience for him. He had to deal with the paradox of trying to show everyone that black people can excel at everything and then being accused of being boastful and arrogant when he would succeed.

After Brooks completed his education, he was contacted by his birth mother. Through her, he is able to meet his siblings in England and contact his father’s family in Kenya. After a great deal of effort, he is able to meet his birth father and extended family in Kenya. Brooks is able to connect his adoptive family, his English family and his African family. Now he truly knows his roots.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that the story did not end when he met his mother. He continues on and teaches us about the how much more his life was enriched by being able to combine his family from their different cultures.

I highly recommend this book to be used in African-American studies classes and in Cultural Counseling classes. I think that it would be great to be read in areas of underprivileged youth. Brooks showed that he could overcome all of the hardships in his life and he is actively involved in making a difference in the lives of others.

Brooks writes about how slavery has robbed African Americans of their history and culture. This often leads them to think that they are inferior. Because of his experiences he developed a perspective of himself as a “world citizen, not limited by race, religion, nationality or political ideology.” If everyone could develop this view of themselves, there would be an end to racism and we would have world peace.

New Book Offers Solutions for Creating Diverse and Inclusive Cultures

Seconde Nimenya’s new book Unlocking Diversity: How to Create Inclusive Cultures in a World of Differences is a book badly needed and long overdue, especially in the wake of the protests that have rocked the world following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020.

Racism remains a major problem in the United States and around the world. In this new book, Seconde Nimenya offers practical advice and fresh insights for how we can live in harmony with one another, learn to appreciate and celebrate our differences, and create a better world for all. As an immigrant first to Canada and then the United States from the East-African nation of Burundi, Seconde provides fresh perspectives about race and racism, and the benefits of creating inclusive workplaces and communities.

At the heart of this book is the need to listen to one another’s diverse stories and the need for all groups to take responsibility and work together to create a world in which we can all live together. Seconde does not point fingers but simply explains that everyone needs to be responsible for themselves and their efforts in developing an inclusive culture. We are all in this together, so we all need to be kind to each other as we sort out our social and racial issues to create a more diverse and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.

Creating inclusive cultures primarily requires greater education about what inclusion means. I love that Seconde makes the point repeatedly in this book that more inclusion means more, not less. Just because we want to include more people from diverse backgrounds does not mean other people will be excluded-a fear too often held by people in more dominant cultures.

We also need to be willing to answer questions about our cultural backgrounds without being offended or hiding the truth. Seconde pokes fun at herself in the book for this reason because when she came to the United States, she got tired of people asking where she was from, so she started saying she was Canadian. Today, she is proud to say she came from Burundi to North America. In fact, her first book, Evolving Through Adversity, tells her incredible story of growing up in poverty amid Burundi’s civil wars and how, despite all the odds, she got an education. Today, she speaks to groups around the globe, sharing her message of how we can rise above adversity, while developing more diverse and inclusive societies.

Seconde asks us all to be open to sharing what we have learned from our experiences, and not be quick to dismiss people as ignorant if they ask questions because those questions reflect their willingness to learn.

Seconde also talks about the fine line people have to walk when trying to increase diversity. She states, “If you are promoting diversity acceptance for your group, but discounting other minority groups’ experiences, and even the so-called privileged, that is not inclusion work. Creating inclusive cultures is not about just advocating for your own people.” She invites diversity practitioners to advocate for everyone who is discriminated against because of who they are.

Throughout this book, Seconde offers advice for both individuals and organizations to increase diversity and inclusion in their lives, organizations, schools, and workplaces, and she focuses on how education is needed for such efforts to work. She states, “I believe education is the only solution that truly empowers communities and has the potential to end the cycle of violence and poverty.”

In the wake of the nationwide protests against racism in the US and even in many other parts of the world that took place in May and June 2020, Seconde’s message about systemic injustices is timely. It is not a government or a police department that is necessarily to blame for racism, but rather, Seconde states, “I often say systemic injustices didn’t put themselves into place; people did. And so, only people can take them down. Many countries have rebuilt from nothing and are a testimony that when we want to, we can. Each one of us is called to step up, use our privileges, and meet our local and global challenges with an inclusive consciousness.”

Seconde calls on those in leadership positions to remember that inclusion is not about taking away someone else’s privilege, but rather, inviting more of “them” to become part of “us.” She states, “there are no strangers in this life-only other people living their own human experiences.”

Obviously, our handling of race issues in America has a long way to go. It’s time for us to find new ways to work together.

Unlocking Diversity is a great book to help you start moving toward opening up conversations, increasing your understanding of one another, and doing your part in making the world better for all. That may be the greatest challenge and lesson we have been placed on this planet to learn. Until we learn it, our problems will never be solved.

Diversity in Education and Curriculum Concepts – Book Review

Are you interested in a future in teaching, education administration, or becoming a social worker, or school psychologist, then there is a book, which I’d like to recommend that your read, and then I’d like to give you a more than fair assessment of this work.

“Multicultural Education in a Pluralistic Society,” by Donna M. Gollnick and Philip C. Chinn, Pearson Merrill a Prentice Hall Company, Upper Saddle River, NJ, (2006), pp. 404, ISBN: 0-13-119719-3.

This book was quite interesting to me, and its first publishing was in 1983 and it has been upgraded and republished every few years since. I felt as if the book was very hard to use because it has the Preface prior to the table of contents, which makes navigating very tough. The preface is quite good and explains how the book is formatted.

Once into the book it is very easy to follow along, even the most blithering idiot could use this book and understand it, perhaps, that is their target reader; at least this is the impression I got, and speaking of impression, I believe this book is trying to brainwash the “education student” who has an impressionable mind, this is my opinion based on reading it.

Indeed, as a coordinator for a think tank online I was really worried that such books are indeed being used to train and teach new teachers and college professionals, and students who will go into the educational profession as administrators, professors, psychologists, etc. There are chapters on social classes, race, homosexuality, diversity, gender, religion, and age. There are sub-chapters such as; Hate Groups

Racial Identification

Bullying

Self Esteem

Sexual Harassment

Anyway, you get the idea of what this wonderful book is all about, unfortunately after reading through it all, I decided I really didn’t have room on my many book shelves for it. And I chose not to donate it to a Thrift Store, and I failed to put it into the recycle bin – it has gone straight into the trash. But, I think this is a great book for a neo-liberal-socialist. And I recommend that you read this book so you can understand how all this political correctness has permeated in our society and how it started in academia.

This book also had everything reiterated and duplicated on a CD ROM with videos, and roll-playing on each chapter. I suppose this is for those in academia who cannot read well, and yet, might still be teaching our children and kids. Look, anyone who is serious about teaching needs to understand how it all works, and what it’s all about, even if you disagree with every single aspect of it. This is why I read the book, and duly discharged to where I believe it belongs. Please consider this.