Not a Genuine Black Man: Or, How I Claimed My Piece of Ground in the Lily-White Suburbs

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Hyperion, Jul 11, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
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Based on the longest-running one-man show in San Francisco history--now coming to Off-Broadway--a hilarious, poignant, and disarming memoir of growing up black in an all-white suburb

In 1972, when Brian Copeland was eight, his family moved from Oakland to San Leandro, California, hoping for a better life. At the time, San Leandro was 99.4 percent white, known nationwide as a racist enclave. This reputation was confirmed almost immediately: Brian got his first look at the inside of a cop car, for being a black kid walking to the park with a baseball bat.

Brian grew up to be a successful comedian and radio talk show host, but racism reemerged as an issue--only in reverse--when he received an anonymous letter: "As an African American, I am disgusted every time I hear your voice because YOU are not a genuine Black man!" That letter inspired Copeland to revisit his difficult childhood, resulting in a hit one-man show that has been running for nearly two years--which has now inspired a book. In this funny, surprising, and ultimately moving memoir, Copeland shows exactly how our surroundings make us who we are.

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About the author (2006)

Brian Copeland is an award-winning writer, stand-up comedian, and actor. He lives in San Leandro, California, with his wife and their three children. His one-man show, also entitled Not a Genuine Black Man, was the longest-running solo show in San Francisco history and opened in New York City in 2006. The San Francisco Chronicle called it "a beautiful mix of wry humor and heartbreak, indignation and inspiration, a singular story of extreme isolation that speaks to anyone who's ever felt out of place.

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