Speech Is My Hammer (Paperback)
With Speech Is My Hammer, Max Hunter draws on memoir and his own biography to call his readers to reimagine the meaning and power in literacy. Defining literacy as a "spectrum of skills, abilities, attainments, and performances," Hunter focuses on dispelling "literacy myths" and discussing how Black male artists, entertainers, professors, and writers have described their own "literacy narratives" in self-conscious, ambivalent terms. Beginning with Frederick Douglass's My Bondage My Freedom, W. E. B. Dubois's Soul of Black Folks, and Langston Hughes's Harlem Renaissance-memoir The Big Sea, Hunter conducts a literary inquiry that unearths their double-consciousness and literacy ambivalence. He moves on to reveal that for many contemporary Black men the arc of ambivalence rises even higher and becomes more complex, following the civil rights and the Black Power movements, and then sweeping sharply upward once again during the War on Drugs. Hunter provides rich illustrations and probing theses that complicate our commonsense reflections on their concealed angst regarding Black authenticity, respectability politics, and masculinity. Speech Is My Hammer moves the reader beyond considering literacy in normative terms to perceive its potential to facilitate transformative conversations among Black males.
Max A. Hunter spent his formative years experiencing urban decline in Southern California and Washington, DC. He earned his PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and master's degree in bioethics from the University of Washington, and two master's degrees, in history of science and in education, from Harvard University. He has served as a diversity-affairs liaison to the Association of American Medical Colleges. At Seattle Pacific University, Hunter developed a premedical program focused on health disparities and the social determinants of health. Dr. Hunter seeks not only to understand health disparities but the roots and perpetuation of literacy ambivalence among Black men. A renowned omnivore and soccer dad, he enjoys cooking, dining out, and walking down Alki Beach with his family in Seattle, Washington.