Mahogany Keys: The Complex Image of the African American Man.(4) The Black Man as an Artist and Promoter of Literacy
Interview with Anthony Pathfinder – Author, proofreader, poet, reviewer and contributing writer for the Urban Book Source
The image of the aggressive-looking African American male, who cannot spell his name, has a limited vocabulary and has trouble keeping a job has become -- sadly! – common in the media. However, there isn’t too much said about those who not only speak proper English, but are committed servants of the written word, being an inspiration for us all.
I must say that finding a successful African American author was not hard at all. Making the decision as to who would be my first guest was difficult, because there are many talented writers out there.
I met Anthony Pathfinder over a year ago while working on a radio show project with Author Monica Brinkman. I was pleasantly surprised by his honesty and openness on various issues. I knew right away that I would love to talk to him again.
Let me introduce him to you.
The Pathfinder is a writer, author, proofreader, poet, reviewer and contributing writer for the Urban Book Source. An avid reader, he developed a love of writing, and authored over 200 poems before parlaying his interest in writing into a passion for story-telling. He currently has four novels available, three written under the moniker Pathfinder (Fair Game, False Pretense and Deadly Consequences and New Blood written under his given name, Karl Anthony. The books are available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com. He is a graduate of Queens College and resides in the tri-state area.
Why writing? Have you always wanted to become a writer, or it just “happened”?
Writing is a means by which to communicate in the same manner as speech.I have always wanted to write and I have been doing so since I was a child. So, yes, it wasn’t something that just happened.
There is a lot of literature on non-verbal communication. If this is true, and most of our interactions are not of verbal nature, why are words so important?
Whoever said that “most of our interactions are not of verbal nature . . .” I tend to disagree with that assessment. Verbal and non-verbal communications are closely linked. In other words, both are available to us and it is up to us to decide which to use depending on the situation. Words are important because we learn to speak/communicate before learning to write. Our word usage and the different ways in which we communicate and explain things are quite unique and what it does is showcase the power of words. That is how I look at it.
Is it true that you also design your book covers? What is more attractive to you: writing or visual arts?
Yes, I design my own book covers and others’ as well.Writing is the ultimate; it will take you anywhere that you choose. Visual arts don’t do that for me. It’s not even close.
Your books are page-turners filled with a lot of extremely well written at times extremely aggressive sex scenes. Most authors shy away from being so descriptive. Is this the urban reality, or mostly the desire of your readership to read about such things?
It’s neither; it’s the characters that dictate where I take the story and how they relate to each other. That said, it’s their behavior that dictates whether or not the sex scenes are aggressive or not.
You are originally from Jamaica, yet you spent most of your life here. What are the most obvious differences between the black communities there versus the ones in the United States?
Yes, I am from the Island of Jamaica.Okay, if we’re referring to the poor/ghetto communities then they all stink. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the United States or Jamaica. There aren’t many differences except that in Jamaica the poor/ghetto communities tend to gravitate and hold onto certain customs/cultural beliefs such as the Rastafarian movement, and a spirited commitment to family, especially mothers. Education is also emphasized from the moment you are born and it isn’t something that is set aside for some other time. It’s taken very seriously. In the case of working/middle class communities there aren’t many differences from the black middle class in America. Education is emphasized, not marrying below the family standards, being the best that you can be is the ultimate goal that I can say without a shadow of a doubt that both communities strive for.
What determined you to choose African Studies as your major in college?
Loved it as much as writing, it’s a part of my DNA, I didn’t have to think twice about it. I also wanted to know about my ancestors and clarify some of the misinformation that was espoused by some to distort the truth. I wanted a comprehensive understanding of not only the role of my ancestors, but that of others as well and how they shaped each other’s lives and cultural outlook.
Anthony, what do you think of the stereotype of the aggressive African American male, who is illiterate, sells drugs supposedly wants to rape every woman especially the white woman, and is a danger to himself and society?
The aggressive African American male? Where is he? The African American male behaves like all other males. This is a media stereotype that has been voiced by those who do not have the best interest or intentions of the African American male. Honestly, this question is laughable. Rape white women and a danger to himself and society? Some African Americans sell drugs like some Asians, Mexicans, Whites, and the list goes on. This is mythical, stereotypical, fabricated and false and should be debunked.
What do you think is behind this negative image of the African American male in today’s society? Do you think it is random opinions or a coordinated agenda?
It is obvious that it’s a coordinated agenda because the media and those who do not have the best interest of the African American male continue to highlight this, and other negative views of African Americans. What they have done is taking a small group of African American males who dabble in the drug trade and other negativity and paint all African American male as such. They do not highlight the successes and positive stories of the majority of African American males. If you keep seeing the same repetitious and negative ads over and over again, what it does is reinforce in one’s mind the belief that it’s a truth and it is so, when clearly it’s not.
Anthony, you are an educated man, author, poet, reviewer, and more. You have also been exposed to the “toughness” of the streets, having witnessed at early age pain, the real face of poverty. Is being street-smart important and if yes, how important?
It’s very important; it’s almost as being bilingual. A person who is bilingual can survive so to speak in an English or Spanish/Italian, etc, environment. In that sense, it gives one the opportunity to communicate and be aware of his or her surroundings. So, yes, it is important! One is limitless when it comes to being street-smart because it gives validity and authenticity when it comes to matters of the streets. He or she can have a dialogue on a number of street issues and won’t feel intimidated or unsure of themselves.
Why is it important to encourage and support literacy in the African American communities today? Please tell us about your involvement if any, with this cause.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste and I believe that it is important for African American youths to be literate, stay literate and continue to be literate. It’s essential for the youths to maintain that focus because it will inform and give them a better perspective on who they are and their culture and other cultures as well. I was involved in teaching young people to read a few years ago. Presently, I inform young people of how important it is to read. I have given away books and I have also supported others in this cause.
Tell us a little bit about your latest projects.
I am working on several projects (5ive Boroughs, The Seeing Eyes, A Rainy Affair, and A Bronx Heist). I am thinking about a sequel for New Blood as well. I will be collaborating with Brooklen Borne, a gifted writer on a soon to be released project. I have started an editing service and I look forward in reaching a number of clients; and I am about to release a book of short stories and poetry.
What is your advice to the young African American males?
Stay in school and get an education. If school is not for you then get a trade. Surround yourself with positive people. Respect others. Strive on being the best that you can be. Find something that drives you, something that is worth your time and effort and put your all into it. Find your niche!
Thank you, Anthony.
© 2012 by Oana
This interview is part of the series Mahogany Keys: The Complex Image of the African American Man.(4) The Black Man as an Artist and Promoter of Literacy