Reviews of Deconstructing Tyrone


This illustration was on the cover of the Washington Post Book world that featured Deconstructing Tyrone in January 2007.

Here is an excerpt of the 2007 DT cover Washington Post’s Book World. The review was written by literary scholar Evelyn C. White:

“Deconstructing Tyrone meets The Autobiography of Malcolm X in the authors’ riveting account of Kofi “Debo” Ajabu, who was reared in black grassroots traditions. A gifted child of activist parents, Ajabu, at age 21, was convicted for his alleged part in a gruesome murder and is now serving a 180-year prison term. His parents had “tried to insulate Debo . . . from the toxic racial climate by enveloping [him] in a community of like-minded souls, committed to the liberation struggle of black people. . . . [They] went to black cultural events, boycotted products doing business with South Africa, and taught their children Swahili.” Still, Ajabu embraced the gangster lifestyle. “You wouldn’t believe how many middle-class gangbangers there are,” he tells the authors. “It’s like . . . we gotta prove some[thing].”

Deconstructing Tyrone achieves a deep poignancy when the authors describe Ajabu’s response to his plight. “This is not life,” he insists from his prison cell. “I will never accept this. . . . I was brought up to be free.” Black men of the hip-hop generation are stepping to a different beat. But as the authors reveal, the path to freedom remains fraught with personal and societal peril. ·

READ Full Washington Post review

From Booklist

The image of black masculinity is dominated these days by hip-hop culture, building on past images of violence and hypersexuality to form a modern archetype. Journalists Hopkinson and Moore have covered the black urban cultural and political scene and have garnered some insights into the image of the archetype they call “Tyrone.” They examine Tyrone through the lens of media coverage of the music and sports industries, as well as through the perspectives of black women. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect or personality of the modern black male: Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, often called the “Hip-Hop Mayor”; the brainy son of a black militant, serving time for murder and mindful of the disproportionate incarceration of young black men; young blacks who start their own businesses as the economy fails to find places for them; black men as “babydaddies” but not husbands; and black men on the down-low, denying their homosexuality. In conclusion, Hopkinson and Moore offer personal reflections from mothers and adolescents on their hopes for the future of relationships between black men and women. Vanessa Bush
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“A deconstruction done in love… Breaks down the myths surrounding black masculinity in a way that inspires hope and points the way toward change.” — Gwendolyn D. Pough, author of Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture and the Public Sphere

“Instead of presenting different types of black men as problems to be solved, the authors invite readers to make sense of the diversity of that community, its history and its possible futures, rather than to merely wring their hands, turn their heads or offer a simplistic stereotype. Instead of coming up with one blanket statement on Why Black Men Are The Way They Are, they ask questions. Answers, after all, only come when questions are asked, often and persistently, and in their foreword, the authors confirm that they ask these questions not in judgment but in love.” — Palm Beach Post

“Kudos to these two sisters for presenting us in a true light.” — Tom Joyner, Jr.

“Moore and Hopkinson pick up the dialogue where the mainstream media usually leaves off…. These first-time authors created a witty examination of racial and gender issues that draws heavily from personal experiences but also is grounded by research and interviews with men and women who both embody and confound the stereotypes.” — Chicago Sun-Times

“Sharp reporting and analysis that veers from gut-wrenchingly honest to laugh-out-loud funny.” — Black Issues Book Review

“With compassion, wit, and keen intelligence, the authors have touched upon our rarely spoken truths. Here is a vision of the complex, vibrant humanity living outside the bleak statistics and damning headlines.” — William Jelani Cobb, author of To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip-Hop Aesthetic

The authors giving a "Deconstructing Tyrone" talk at the Portland Oregonian newspaper newsroom.