Thursday, June 01, 2006
Beat of a Different Drum: The Untold Stories of African Americans Forging Their Own Paths in Work and Life by Dax-Devlon Ross
(Brother Omi's note: there is quite a bit of background on this, so bear with me...)
Hosting and organizing several events in my community has placed me in compromising situations with the most untalented and troublesome people. I have to admit that I have a box full of so called urban tomes and CDs that I refuse to rummage through that I have "garnered" throughout my travels. When I met Dax-Devlon Ross however, the encounter was much different. He did not hit me on the head with slick game talk or bombard other people with reasons to purchase his book. His table was not overflowing with the usual knick knacks other aspiring writers use to sell or promote their book. As a matter of fact, on that particular day I was overwhelmed with a last minute hosting gig and missing troupe members. The organizer of said event passed me a small slip of paper with Ross' book information on it.
Even the script found on this piece of paper did not attract me to his book. It was my big mouth that prompted me to approach his table. I urged the crowd to purchase his book without even checking him out (something I never do). So after I made the annoucement, I approached Ross. He was writing in a tablet. Immediately, I wished I could do the same during a busy event. I picked up a copy of his book and purchased it. We talked for a second. It was nothing out of the ordinary at all.
At home, I waited a few days before I even opened the book. The first chapter of the book "The Last Trailblazers" caught my eye. I was immediately hooked. My wife and I battled over it. She picked up, too, and happened to skip a few chapters ahead. She even gave away some of the stories which bothered me to no end. I have to say that the title, Beat of a Different Drum, is befitting. Ross introduces us to several African Americans who have made their mark in non conventional ways.
We are introduced to a zoologist, an oceanographer, animator, brewmeister, sailor, a scientist, etc. Ross takes us through several walks of life. Each story is unique and refreshing. I was able to learn about several occupations that I had no clue about. Ross' writing is superb. He didn't just jot down each subject's thoughts, he thoroughly researched their fields. He also demonstrated how each person represents a segment of the African American community. Ross gives the reader a wonderful tapestry of people. I found myself rooting for several of the subjects and wanting to know more.
What makes the book exceptional is the fact that through his subjects, Ross seems to answer questions that he had about his career goals. Through these people, ranging from 25 to 65 years old, Ross finds a stark contrast between the Civil Rights generation and the generations that come after. The current generation wants more than just attend college, find a good job, and then have a family. This, of course, is something that transcends race. Everyone wants to make their mark. Not everyone wants to make millions of dollars. Not all of us are MCs or ball players. These are things that ring true in Beat of a Different Drum...
And yes, this is something totally different. Thank you Ross, for just being you.