"Afeni Shakur Evolution of a Revolutionary" by Jasmine Guy
Reviewed by Isidra Person-Lynn
The book cover is emblazoned with white letters on the stark black cover "Afeni Shakur" followed by smaller gold letters Evolution of a Revolutionary."
But it was the author's name below that caused a double-take Jasmine Guy.
Jasmine Guy? Whitley? Why would Whitley of the TV comedy "Different World" be writing about Tupac's famed mother -- a former Black Panther? Curiosity moved me; satisfaction moved the story until the triumphant ending.
It turns out, this biography/autobiography (Atria Books 2004 ISBN 0-7434-7053-2) wasn't watered down by "Whitley" at all.
It was written by Jasmine Guy, the woman, the dancer, the actress, the writer, and the contemporary of Tupac who hung with him and Jada Pinkett Smith during his life causing them to be there in a big way during both shootings and his death.
Jasmine formed a bond with Pac's "Dear Mama," Afeni Shakur, and over the next 10 years culled Afeni's story, building a sisterhood in the process.
It is a first book for both of them, and while there is much more to be said about both, there is enough there to hopefully jumpstart Generation X to read more and learn about the names and people mentioned within.
It brings the Panther Party's importance into the light, the police infiltration into reality and the crack craze into perspective. There were reasons for all of the above and this book explains all that.
The only thing it doesn't explain -- or even touch upon adequately -- was why, when Tupac died on Friday Sept. 13, was he cremated on Saturday, Sept. 14?
Internet photos affirm there was an autopsy, but this sudden disposal by Afeni has led to the "Tupac is not dead" mantra of some of our youth, The Tupac Machiavelli syndrome and "Tupac Resurrection". (In a way, "Tupac Resurrection" was real. In that movie, his life -- and death -- was told in his own words.)
"Afeni Shakur Evolution of a Revolutionary" opens the door to the young mother's pain and shows the parallels between Pac's life and his mother's.
Both young revolutionaries took to the national stage when they were much too young. His story has been well documented, but her story explains how you go from being a Panther revolutionary, to a crack head and back again. There were reasons. Today she heads the empire that Pac built.
This book is a must read for all struggling with addictions. It speaks of the work Afeni did, the steps that need to be taken to free oneself from the drug of choice.
Applaud Jasmine Guy for stepping out of her privileged personae to take on such a meaty subject, and perhaps being the one unsuspecting soul who can bring Afeni's life to our young who need to hear it.
Isidra Person-Lynn is a writer and mother of five sons living in Los Angeles. Distributed by HYPE, www.afrikan.net/hype , firstname.lastname@example.org
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