James TylerNovember 8, 2006Book Review The name of the book is $ 40 Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. The author is William C. Rhoden. Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc New York, published the book in 2006. The book contains 276 pages. The author William Rhoden, a Morgan State University graduate, has been a sports writer for the New York Times since 1983. He has written for the “Sports of Times” column for more than ten years.
Mr. Rhoden also wrote a documentary of the African-American Athlete. The book contains 11 chapters.
Each chapter talks about a type of dilemma that black athletes confronted and has mastered over the years.At the beginning of each chapter, there is a picture of an athlete; there is also some sort of quote that goes along with the chapter. Mr. Rhoden says that he began writing this book from a comment made by a white spectator at a basketball game. The white man had called a black player a $ 40 million dollar slave.
This comment got Mr. Rhoden’s mind going. He argues that today’s athletes are so focused on the now and the future, and that it is important for them to look at their history.Rhoden says that they need to see how their ancestors paved the way for them to be in the position that their in now. I think that Mr.
Rhoden wrote this book for all black people, and especially for black athletes. He feels as though you really need to know your history. The title of the book really explains what the book’s content. It focuses on how the past and present black athletes are really slaves on a different type of plantation. It also explains their gains and set backs, and their need to attain freedom from the white people controlling them, just like the slaves taken from Africa. As mentioned earlier, Rhoden’s focuses on the sports industry. In addition, how it has meant wealth but not always development, and success for the black athlete.
Rhoden also looks at how the white sports industry has come up with ways in controlling the black athletes. One of Rhoden’s focuses is that of integration. Such as the integration of the Negro Leagues, this stripped itself of its great black baseball players. Rhoden argues that integration was 1) a destructive power dynamic between black talent and white ownership. 2) A chronic psychological burden for black athletes, who had to constantly prove their worth. 3)Disconnection of the athlete from his or her community. 4) The emergence of the apolitical black athlete, who had to be careful what he or she said or stood for, so as not to offend white paymasters.
In chapter seven, Rhoden even compares the black sports being invaded for sports, just as Africa was invaded for manual labor. Another focus of Rhoden is to show the history of the trials and tribulations of the black athlete.He often talks about how black athletes have been thrown into this conveyor belt, which carries young black athletes out of black America and introduces them to a world with very few African-Americans, a world of white agents, real estate brokers, bank presidents, trustees, and lawyers.
Rhoden points out that since the black athletes do not really have any black role models in their lives, which in turn weakens their chances of becoming leaders. Another point of interest in $ 40 Million Dollar Slaves is when the white system is challenged, or when the black athletes become too good. Rhoden argues that when the black athletes challenge the white power structure, they change the rules. He gives us a few examples of times when black athletes challenged the system; such as the time when black jockeys were winning just about every race in the Kentucky Derby, so the Jockey Club stopped giving license to black Jockeys. Another example is when R.C. Owens a football player for the 49ers use to stand on the goal line and swat field goal attempts, the NFL banned the practice.
This reminds you of the slaves challenging their masters by revolting.In which the masters would beat the slaves in public to try and get back in control of slaves. As mentioned earlier the author breaks the book up into dilemmas.Each dilemma talks about some of the problems that black athletes have been face with and the effect that they have on the athletes today.Mr. Rhoden was very descriptive in his writing.
There is a lot of information in this book, yet in my opinion, it was all relatively easy to understand. All throughout the story, I felt as though Mr. Rhoden does try to persuade.