A book review
By Marcie Rendon
Something I Said: Essays on Domestic Abuse, Rape, Relationships and Other Critical Social Issues (Papyrus Publishing, Inc.) is a collection of previously published commentaries and essays by Dwight Hobbes. He is a man who on one hand throws down hardcore thoughts faster than most folks dare to think them and then, in typical Dwight Hobbes fashion, confounds it all by dedicating his book to the two purring kitties that have wrapped their tails around his heart.
Like Richard Pryor on his recording Is It Something I Said?, Hobbes sets out to confront the reader, awake the reader, and if the reader doesn’t wake up fast enough, slap the reader across the head with words until the reader sits up and asks incredulously, “Did this guy just write what I think he wrote?” And no matter the reaction of the reader, Hobbes keeps writing.
The essays in his book are culled from various publications over a 20-plus-year career of writing everything from plays, articles, columns, poetry and songs to performing on his guitar.
In this first collection of his essays, Hobbes is sharing opinions about domestic abuse, rape, dating, Black men loving Black women (or not) and Black women loving Black men (or not), the social ills of all of us, and other critical issues that nag at his mind. More specifically, Hobbes dares to put fingers to keyboard and meet the next deadline, unabashedly and unashamedly not caring if folks are upset with his thoughts. He seems more concerned with waking folks up than securing their friendship.
When Hobbes writes in “Lazy Homeless (If You Won’t Help Yourself),” “Twin Cities social service programs bend over backward to put people on their feet, make them self-sufficient. You stand a fighting chance, compared to living someplace like New York City, where homelessness amounts to a living death sentence.” Hobbes knows because he has spent time in both NYC and Minneapolis shelters.
“Reflecting on Romance” reads like a “how-to, how-not-to” and “kiss my grits if you don’t like it” chapter on loving Black women, being dissed by and, in one instance, being driven out into a Minnesota snowstorm by the same and getting on with life. These experiences he uses as “…an article idea about being single that I want to start pitching around to magazines.” Hobbes has no compunction about writing what he knows.
He holds nothing back, blatantly considering it the editor’s job to bleep out the cuss words. In some, he leaves liberal sympathies to the liberals. In writing about domestic abuse, he questions the man’s excuse “I just couldn’t help myself” by stating, “He knows if he even thinks about hitting one of those cops they will all stomp a mudhole in his behind.” To even it out he writes about women-on-men domestic abuse —- a topic many often are loath to mention.
In a number of the commentaries, two in particular, Hobbes calls out the Black community. In “Black Conservatives Ain’t All Uncle Toms,” he quotes Jesse Peterson, head of Brother of a New Destiny (BOND), giving a speech in LA to a group of liberal Black ministers and community “wheeler-dealers.”
Hobbes asks why Peterson had the audacity to ask why, “…every speaker here spoke about how bad White people are, but nobody spoke about the decline of morals in many Black communities?” The second commentary, “Oreo Dues (Black-on-Black Foolishness)” brings to light the internalized oppression that Black folks play out on Black folks.
As Mahmoud El-Kati, professor emeritus of Macalester College, writes in the foreword, “Something I Said is a book [that] clearly outlines social problems begging for studied attention.” At a minimum, it is a book that begs to be read with another person, or in a group, or a classroom where folks can slap their foreheads, while exclaiming, “I can’t believe he said that!” Once they’re done shaking their heads, they can get into heated arguments on whether they agree or disagree on “something Hobbes said.”
Dwight Hobbes will be signing copies of Something I Said on Friday, April 20, 6:30-7:30 pm, at Golden Thyme in St. Paul (see “The Clubs” listing above for address and phone number). For more information about the book, contact Papyrus Publishing, Inc. at 763-560-0760 or PapyrusPublishing@msn.com.