“Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary” by Jasmine Guy is abiography/autobiography of the celebrated and slain hip-hop iconTupac Shakur’s mother. Jasmine Guy, better known as “Whitley” fromA Different World, has cast her lot not only in acting andperforming, but as author of her first book. T
The book does exactly what the title leads toyou believe; it explores, illustrates, and defines the evolution ofa revolutionary, Afeni Shakur. Starting from her days in schoolleading to her involvement and leadership in the Black PantherParty, and then to her addictions to crack and back, the bookscarries multiple themes of motherhood, pain, grief, pride,redemption, and restoration.
The biography reads like a conversationbetween Shakur and Guy. It appears that Guy has tape recorded theirmost intimate conversations and transcribed it into this book.
“I used to think I was pushing buttons or, insome way, making her cry, but it is nothing I do. Afeni criesoften, suddenly, completely. She feels gratitude, happiness,frustration, and loneliness intensely. She feels in bold primarycolor, not pastel. Anger is rage. Peace is joy. Sadness is sorrow.Grief is agony,” states Guy in one of her many descriptions ofAfeni.
For a first-time book, it is the likely thereader will be impressed by Guy’s illustrative and descriptivewriting, and provocative questions. However, there are passagesthat seem to be too flowery or detailed, which can be distractingto the reader. As Afeni recalls her life, her words alone don’ttell you, they show you. So in particular pieces of the biography,Guy’s interjections of analogies and metaphors appear to be a bitextra in terms of what Afeni has already provided in quote.
Nevertheless, the book is worth reading not somuch as to gain insight on Tupac, but insight on his familybackground. It will also give clearer explanations of the fall ofthe Black Panthers and Afeni’s contribution to the cause. Thisbiography offers people who have ever struggled to raise a family,kick an addiction, or channel a character flaw, hope.
What the book will not do is explain the”mysteries” surrounding the death of Tupac, why he was cremated,and so forth. Afeni hardly dwells on the life he led, but more onthe life he left. Hence, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation wasstarted to empower youth through the arts and entertainment. Afenishows how her son’s legacy can be continued through the fosteringof the arts among urban youth. Through her, Tupac’s legacy liveson.
For more information on the foundation see:www.TASF.org