'Forward From This Moment'

The Bookwormffw-0917-bookcover

By: Terri Schlichenmeyer

“Forward from this Moment”

by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

c.2009, Bolden Books         $17

What do you think? Go ahead. Spill your mind. You have something to say about the economy, politics, local infrastructure, today’s youth, TV, the weather, your favorite team’s quarterback, troops overseas and the music that’s on the radio. Speak your mind because it seems, these days, everybody has an opinion.

Some of those opinions are so moving, so dead-on that you can’t help but be stunned by their “common-senseness.” Read “Forward From This Moment” by Leonard Pitts Jr., and you’ll see what I mean.

Fifteen years ago, Pitts, who was the music critic for the Miami Herald, tired of his job. He asked for a re-assignment and to his surprise they gave it to him by making him a general interest columnist, which means “they pay me to write about whatever happens to be on my mind at any given time,” Pitts says.

This book, a “labor of guilt” for not having compiled those columns already, is his cumulative result. Over the years, there was plenty on his mind.

In hoping for a child’s future: “You want so much for your kids. Possibility renews itself through children. You see things in their eyes … As a parent, you are the guardian of all that. It’s hard to imagine a more daunting responsibility.”

On perceived “disrespect” and African-American young men: It is, they’ll tell you, an issue of respect and they guard that respect to the point of extreme behavior … (But) They don’t get it. The cold fact is, the world does not operate according to the mores of hard streets. If one seeks to get ahead, one adapts to society, not the other way around.”

“You want respect? Real respect? Bump the dumb stuff. Keep your eyes on the prize.”

On “colorblindness”: “I can appreciate the frustration of white Americans whose only desire where race is concerned is to know what’s OK, what’s allowed …”

On gay rights and African Americans: “How can we of all people, we who know the weight of American oppression better than almost anyone, stand in the path of those who seek simple equality?”

Agree or disagree, you’d have to go a long way to find a book that makes you fall in love with words and ideas more than “Forward From This Moment.” Pitts speaks his mind eloquently and often with tenderness, but, overall, to heck with anyone who’s rankled.

Politicians, ignoramuses, world leaders and heroes are all up for examination in Pitts’ world, and it’s abundantly clear that he means what he says. And in case there’s any doubt that Pitts is a man of conviction, he includes several columns that answer his detractors and their put-him-on-the-spot comments.

“Forward From This Moment” is a book to savor. It should be on the bedside table of every thinking person. It’s one of the finest books you’ll read this year.

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