Review: Black ≠ Inferior by Tolu' A. Akinyemi
Written by Giovanna Napoleone
Tolu' A. Akinyemi’s “Black and Unique” poem was first seen on the GN Books website last Spring, as a precursor to the many other poems within his Black ≠ Inferior poetry collection that will be published early next year. GN Books was given an exclusive ARC copy of the novel in order to create this special review! The pre-order book link can be found here, to which GN Books is accredited in the acknowledgements, and the link to the “Black and Unique” exclusive poem: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08CKG91WW/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4
The remaining poems, of which there are over 30, all go into depth to explore social issues plaguing the Black community today and are extremely relevant to the 21st century. As tensions and outcries for equality rise from our cities, nations, and heritages, writer Tolu' A. Akinyemi provides invaluable and creatively written insight on what it means to have skin of a certain color.
“Hope to the despairing” is a perfect way to explain what Tolu' A. Akinyemi provides through his works of poetry regarding the Black Lives Matter movement of the 21st century. The timely and creative pieces of work clearly demonstrate his feelings on the topic, as per the title: Black ≠ Inferior shows that the color of one’s skin should never categorize the value of one’s heritage and essence of humanity. Quite the contrary, “Black is beautiful” - which should be reflected in the realm of politics and society today. The constant violence troubling all communities need to be addressed at an alarming rate.
Although some statements within Akinyemi’s poetry collection can be seen as politically controversial, such as references to the White House and other political occurrences in modern day, Black ≠ Inferior is all about giving a “mantra” for equality to the voiceless within a country through the fundamental basics of written language and poetry. A modern day truth, Akinyemi states that “Black is not a synonym for an inferior” and should be dispelled as such. Through his poems, Akinyemi urges the reader to focus on the beauty of the African culture, despite what many others perceive. For instance, in “African Time I”, Akinyemi lyrically describes some of the “timeless” traditions, so much that “African Time” is “etched on to [his] skin”.
Furthermore, some favorites in regards to this collection of poems include the titles of “Black Picture” and “Black Out”, which both highlight the tragedy and stigmas that surround the lives of Black Americans today. Such is clear from the perspective of the author, who seems to have a deep connection with his words by using links to connect his heritage to others who have “weather[ed] the storm of racism” or have felt its destructive effects. This entire collection is an ode to Black culture and modern day experiences - notably the Black minority and communities whose cultures have been neglected or oppressed. Through cries for “Black Unity”, the use of sarcastic remarks, and allusions to the tribal issues plaguing Blacks today, Akinyemi causes the reader to feel concern for the world’s current condition. As stated by his own work, we should think with “not love or hate” but our human, moral souls while coming to terms with issues regarding racism. Overall, the Black ≠ Inferior poetry collection by Tolu' A. Akinyemi is a “song of hope” in which “people of faith” can use to take a stand against the wrongs they see in their own community.