2 out of 4 stars
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What is the solution to the problem that is racism? The answer to this is one that seems to have eluded the world today. From individual racism that was popular in the past, we have started to see that structural and systemic forms of racism have been deeply rooted in society.
Cracker Jacked by Lawrence Sterling III presents the author's rough experiences with institutional racism at the hands of his superiors and even the police. He starts his story from his time serving in the U.S. Navy. As the time for his honorable discharge approached, he found himself suddenly under investigation in a forty-five thousand dollar fraud case. This led to a sequence of events that saw his time extended and forced him to go AWOL, and eventually, he was faced with six charges from the United States. After facing the consequences of those charges and returning home, he would endure police brutality that would see him embroiled in another court case, but this time, it would be against the state of California.
The author has penned an emotional and objective piece here that drew me in from the very first page. Not only does he document the negative effects these ordeals had on him in this story, especially with the PTSD he suffered while being held in a ship's prison, but he also shows similarities between his cases and other high-profile cases, like the unjust shooting of Oscar Grant. Lawrence Sterling III has a unique way of putting readers in the center of events, as he never failed to present each party's side of the story by including their published statements, police reports, other relevant documents, and even pictures. This made for an intense read, as I got a perfect picture of a lot that is wrong with the police and the justice system and saw how this affected someone I could easily connect with. This ability to create a connection to the readers' emotions is my favorite aspect of the book.
The author's exercises in picking apart the opposition's accusations was also another intriguing part of the book for me. It was especially fascinating because he usually presented the opposition's statements or reports first, and the tone and presentation of these reports convinced me that he was guilty. Nonetheless, he would process to show that a lot of things were fabricated convincingly. Would the judges refrain from racial profiling and see things from his point of view?
While I found the author's account engaging, it was very difficult to read through all the errors I found in the book. I think that the book will largely benefit from a professional editor's touch. Also, some of the references included were not properly formatted. Some of them even had numbers continuously written in between words, and I found this confusing. Furthermore, I found the author's frequent changes in the writing style, from plain English to Ebonics, distracting. All things considered, I rate Cracker Jacked two out of four stars for its relevance and overall presentation of facts. The issues with the book's editing, formatting, and writing style took away from its quality. Mature readers who enjoy documentaries will enjoy this book.
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