4 out of 4 stars
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Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream is Dr. Frank L. Douglas’ passionate memoir. After landing a scholarship through relentless dedication, Douglas leaves the then British Guiana for the U.S. to study at Lehigh University and later at Cornell University Medical School. The culture shock he experiences after arrival leaves an impact on him. He witnesses levels of racial discrimination like he has never seen before. In many cases later, he also becomes a victim of this wrong ideology. Douglas joins The Johns Hopkins Hospital and during his residency, he receives a National Institutes of Health fellowship to work as a Clinical Research Associate. Through his journey in medical research and academia, Douglas’ life continues to reflect on identity, political dynamics in British Guiana, racial discrimination in the U.S. and overcoming multiple obstacles to build a career.
I liked that the book reveals the trend of racial discrimination in educational institutions and in business organizations. As an African American, Douglas faced many cases of racial discrimination. In one instance, he is denied a promotion because of his ethnicity. While in school, he also notices many cases of ethnicity-based favoritism. He embarks on researching the matter. The findings, which are upsetting, are revealed in the book.
I also liked that the memoir instills a spirit of hope despite the presence of daunting obstacles. Douglas’ life story is full of ups and downs. He grows up without knowing his real father and has to work extremely hard to secure a scholarship. Life in the U.S. is not everything that he had dreamed of. This does not stop him from pursuing his dreams and serving his community.
The author is also honest and blunt. He does tiptoe around major issues mostly preferring to state his opinion openly. This exudes a feeling of confidence in what is included in the book and the author’s perspective in general. I liked this direct way of writing as it cuts on unnecessary details and it let me know clearly where the author stood on various issues.
I also liked that the author included a powerful background highlighting incidences in his childhood that helped shape his fortitude. Growing up in poverty where he was mostly unsure of how he could afford his education, Douglas became aware of the challenges that faced others like him and worked hard to ensure he made the best out of available opportunities.
I did not like that the book contains a lot of technical descriptions. However, it is thoroughly edited. I only identified two errors. I rate Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream 4 out of 4 stars. It would appeal to readers who are fond of memoirs especially those that reflect on personal and ethnic identity and racial discrimination. Readers who are not fans of this genre or the themes mentioned may not enjoy the book.
Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream
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