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BLACK WHITE AND GRAY ALL OVER Reviewed by Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Monday, May 2, 2022

 

Author: Frederick Douglass Reynolds
Publisher: MindStir Media
ISBN: 978-1638485216

Compton, California, is a neighborhood next to theWatts section of Los Angeles. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was one ofthe most dangerous cities in the USA.

For thirty-two years,Frederick Douglass Reynolds, author of Black White And Gray All Over,was a black police officer and deputy sheriff in the area.

Inthis refreshingly blunt and heavy-hitting as-told-to autobiography ofhis life, Reynolds forcefully grapples with the realities of theenvironment he was submerged in working the streets of Compton as apolice officer.

To exemplify, Reynolds quotes a tormentedfather who had just suffered the loss of his child to a gang drive-byshooting: “There’s a war going on out here. All we’re missingare the tanks and the warplanes, but you should hear the gunshots atnight; I bet Vietnam wasn’t this bad.”

In the Forward tohis memoir, Reynolds cautions his readers that it will be troublesomefor some people to read, most likely White readers, and they may notwant to continue past the first two chapters. And, as he states: “Ifthose two chapters offend you, perhaps some introspection is requiredon your part. Simply put, to get to where I ended up in life, youmust walk in my shoes.”

Reynolds grew up in Detroit in adysfunctional household in the 1960s. As a young lad, he was notexactly a model citizen. A member of the city’s earliest gangs, theErrol Flynns, he was involved in recurrent criminal activities.Eventually, he enlisted in the military, becoming a Marine Corpsinfantryman. However, when he tried to re-enlist, his request wasrejected because of his unsatisfactory disciplinary record.

While in the service, he had met his wife, Gilda, when he was based in CampPendleton, near San Diego. Gilda lived in Compton, and theyeventually married and had kids.

We are informed thatReynolds' inspiration to become a cop emerged one day when workingfor the Greyhound bus line. He apprehended someone trying to steal asuitcase from a Mexican woman with three small kids. As he pointsout, it was an epiphany: “If helping people made me feel that good,then maybe being a police officer wasn’t such a bad job after all;perhaps I had been on the wrong side all along.”

Thepathway to becoming a law enforcement officer was difficult. Hisinitial application to the LAPD did not go as planned, and he wasrejected.

In 1985, Reynolds gained employment with the Cityof Compton as a security officer. Ultimately, he was hired as apolice recruit. He graduated in the upper half of his class in 1986at the police academy, and was only one of five Blacks out ofeighty-five to graduate. Thus began his career with the Compton PDuntil his retirement thirty-two years later.

The memoirprovides readers with an invaluable prism through which we can seehow and by whom our laws are enforced. The writing succinctly detailsReynolds’ many events that serve as a frank reminder of the hellishincidents he and his partners had to endure.

Reading thememoir feels like riding along with him in his squad car, initially,as a rookie fresh out of police college and, afterward, his timespent in different sections of the police force, witnessing someghastly episodes.

His descriptions are stark, vicious, andtenacious in their depiction of violence on the streets of Compton.And you can completely comprehend the enormous emotional toll thestressful nature of the work had on him. In the early pages of thetext, he acknowledges that his initial assumption was that recordinghis biography would be therapeutic. However, the more he penned, themore he understood how he was emotionally broken.

I have toapplaud Reynolds on his story-telling acumen and command of thelanguage. This is most likely the reflection of his being a voraciousreader when he was a youngster, as he briefly mentions in thememoir.

The narrative would have been more rewarding if there hadbeen professional content editing. Instead, it was unduly lengthy,with descriptions of far too many adventures and endless names ofReynold’s buddies and gang members.

Nonetheless, the book’sgenuine achievement lies in Reynolds’s frankness in crafting amemoir that profoundly affects the reading experience. His message, which comes across in the memoir, and as Reynolds mentions in our interview, cops don’t live toengage in shootings or car and foot pursuits. Yet, almost all payattention to the neighborhoods they police. They are not cold,heartless monsters searching for notches in their gun handles. Itrequires a particular type of person to potentially put their ownlives in danger for someone they never met or perhaps wouldn’t likeif they knew each other. Every society since time immemorial has hadits protectors, and this will never change. A just society isrevealed in not merely how its protectors care for its inhabitants.It is how its inhabitants regard their protectors.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Frederick Douglass Reynolds


 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
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Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
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