Review: Making of a Psychologist

“Many other strong people came before us and they never got a chance to know what freedom was. They sacrificed their lives so that we could have a better life and we must not forget to pay homage to them in all that we do.” page 37

The Making of a Psychologist by Dr. Earl Bracy.
RoseDog Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2010.
Memoir, 268 pages.
Not leveled.

The life story of Dr. Bracy, told by himself.  Technically an autobiography (told by the author in chronological order) but written with more of an anecdotal memoir style.

The Making of a Psychologist by Dr. Earl Bracy
The Making of a Psychologist by Dr. Earl Bracy (with owner’s name and label blurred off of this borrowed book cover).

I came across this book quite randomly when looking for a very different (not diverse) book.  If it wasn’t for this blog, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.  Bracy’s life is interesting, but this book needed a heavy editor’s hand.  I had to stop myself from grabbing a pencil and marking up the margins several times.  If this was a purchased book (rather than borrowed), I’d have done so simply for my own peace of mind.

The formatting is also troublesome with justified margins and a font that doesn’t do the book any services.  The book cover isn’t appealing with the tilted landscape, awkward fades, and random American flag.  All of that’s too bad, because this could have been a very readable book.

Assuming this was self-published, I looked up RoseDog Press.  They have a poorly done Yahoo website with information on how to buy their books, but not much about publication.  It’s not entirely clear, but appears to be vanity publishing site.  There are points where the narrative is more cohesive, so it seems Bracy, like most educated people, can write but not to book level without assistance, and was probably scammed.

This is a big issue with publishing – there need to be more avenues that provide a level of development and encouragement for minority authors.  Bracy certainly deserves books of a better published quality than this.

His life is fairly interesting.  One of twelve children, he spent his childhood under Jim Crow in the segregated Deep South.  The book opens with a sweet thank you to teachers that encouraged him in his childhood.  I was surprised to learn the author moved to Wisconsin!

Bracy quotes poetry and refers to historical events ongoing throughout his life.  I enjoyed the grounding in time and place and don’t mind snippets of poetry, but could see other readers being thrown off by the sudden quotations.  In his teen years, Bracy returned to Alabama and realized the injustices of segregation.

At points Bracy’s words flow more smoothly, mainly when he feels passionately about something.  This leads to some repetition, for example his repeated outrage over highly educated black teachers not being able to eat out for a nice dinner.

Bracy’s family was Pentecostal but he became a Catholic.  Interestingly, he says it was freeing to him and he felt Catholic priests and nuns were the only white people who cared about black education.  This contradicts what I would have assumed about these religions.

By chapter four, Dr. Bracy is back in Wisconsin!  He documents the prejudice, housing discrimination, and employment discrimination, even as he states:

“The interesting thing was that in spite of white hostility, the opportunities in spite of racial discrimination were much better for black people in Milwaukee than they were for many black people in Alabama or any southern state for that matter.  Black people left the South for the North because even if they were qualified for a job in the South, in many instances, they would not be hired.” pages 111 and 112

I left in the first bit so you can see some of the editing issues and repetition.

There are a LOT of pictures.  Between chapters there are at least a few pictures and sometimes several pages.  The pictures vary in quality – some are clearly scanned in, others pixelated, and still others appear to be from unattributed sources such as local newspapers or private collections.  Dr. Bracy went to great lengths to make sure that we could picture all of the locations and most of the people in his book, and it’s quite helpful.

Dr. Bracy talks about the Milwaukee riots and marched with Father James Groppi.  I’ve heard of him before when we studied Vel Phillips, who interestingly doesn’t come up in this book.  Looking at the photographs, there is one which is actually somewhat famous.  I was impressed, because many people marched, but Dr. Bracy was clearly on the front lines.

Groppi Flag cropped
Father Groppi, Earl Bracy, and unknown crowd members carrying an American flag during a 1966 protest march.

There are incidents of discrimination, including derogatory terms.  On page 114 the word “fag” is used, with a disappointing reason given.

While stories like this need to be told, this one needs more editing.  For that reason, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend the book as it currently stands.

However, I’ll still consider his other book, Too Young to Die – Inner City Adolescent Homicides (A Psychological Autopsy).  For many people, it’s easier to write in their own field than to write an autobiography or memoir, and the topic’s interesting.

Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

5 thoughts on “Review: Making of a Psychologist”

  1. It’s apparent that whoever did this review of the making of A Psychologist has no clue of What I was trying to say and what the American flag represents in my book.The flag is on the cover of the book because of all of the discrimination that I endured,I still believe in America.You mentioned other people holding the flag as if you expected me to remember names from 47 years ago The flag on the cover of the book also comes full circle because we carried the flag inspire of being rejected.Last year I was also featured in the Milwaukee Journal where I was sitting on a porch of a rooming house where I lived as a teenager during the marches.
    The rooming house is now vacant but 47 years later there was an American flag in the window.
    So THINK and you will see how things come together.Nothing is by accident.
    In regards to the Catholic Church,in the south,they were separate as well but it was the only denomination in the south that set up schools for black students and opened black parishes for black Catholics.PLEASE DO YOUR HISTORY HOMEWORK.
    In regards to the word “FAG”,that was a word that emanated from my deceased uncle and even though he was black,he had an Archie Bunker mentality but that is not my mindset.
    I was merely stating what his words were.
    It sounds like there was some hypersensitivity on your part.
    I will continue to write and I will not be deterred.

    Like

    1. Hello Dr. Bracy, thanks for reading my review. I’m very glad to hear that you do not agree with the use of the term fag as a homophobic slur. This book was returned to my friend, so I can’t refer back to the exact passage, but the book left me uncertain as to your views, so I’m glad you have clarified them.

      I’m also glad to hear you still believe in America and that the cover was designed as you wished. Vel Phillips was mentioned in my review because she and Father Groppi are both well known – when one of our children was in 4th grade we read their biographies from Wisconsin Media Lab. That does not mean that you knew her though, or that I would expect you to remember all the names of the people you marched with.

      As mentioned, your book was the first time I came across information about the Catholic schools for black students in the South. Since writing this review I’ve seen other references to this as well, and would appreciate any suggestions for further reading on the topic.

      I certainly hope you continue to write and with a good editor and correct formatting of your text, you have the potential to write a book that I could wholeheartedly recommend. Your life is certainly interesting and hopefully another publisher would do better with the technical aspects.

      Like

      1. Thanks for your input.I will be writing several more books.Your critique has made me realize that I should think seriously about who I want to publish them.
        If you have any suggestions,please let me know.
        Thanks
        Earl Bracy

        Like

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