The Making of a Psychologist by Dr. Earl Bracy.
RoseDog Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2010.
Memoir, 268 pages.
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.
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.
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.