Earlier this year, a friend suggest I read the book Hi! My Name Is Loco And I Am A Racist. The fact that someone claimed to be a racist in the open caught my attention and I bought it right away.
I couldn’t put the book down.
I usually find most memoirs boring (save for Manhood by Terry Crews) but this book gave some interesting insights on being real with one’s self.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Mcneil lived through interesting moments. He went to an elementary school that was heavy on pan-Africanism; was part of the Five Percent Nation; was in the military; lived a life of taboo; witnessed the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, and moved to Yokohama, Japan.
The moment he stepped off the plane, his test began.
Most other books and videos talk about people’s experiences AT their destination. Here, we read HOW he got to Japan. How he got there and what he learned was more interesting to me.
Here are some takeaways from the book.
- There’s nothing wrong with being smart
Amongst the black American community, being smart earn little to no respect. Loco and most of his mentors were not shy about letting him know how smart he was and knew there were better things to come.
Loco’s background and uncanny writing ability shows that anyone, regardless of skin color, can make it in a new place.
2. Mindset is everything
Most people in Loco’s situation would have quit and blamed everything on the white man. Loco NEVER blames white people (or anyone) for his troubles. He discovered on his own it’s not so much about skin colour (though it does play in a factor sometimes), it’s about making or taking opportunities.
The blue print to success depends on one’s attitude. What worked for Loco couldn’t work for anyone else.
3. Ambition then destination then passion. Dreams are useless.
Loco had ambition to be the best he could be every day. He didn’t pursue his passion until he came to Japan. Most were raised to believe having a college degree was the end all to being successful. Loco showed that it takes way more than that to get anywhere.
He had his degree and he was working a comfortable job. After 9/11, he decided to take on a new challenge. Loco always had it in him to be a great writer but he needed a catalyst; he needed a means to go to the next level and Japan was it. Japan tested his might.
4. Loco is a living example of “Show me your friends and i’ll show you your future”
I loved reading the relationships Loco had with people. His early relationships with his family and friends led him to believe a certain way. Granted, they DID control his life (because he let them) but as Loco got older and stepped out of his comfort zone, he realized HE was in control.
From his time with the Five Percent to his relationship with Aiko, Loco learned a thing or two about control. This relates to point #2 but it’s a little bit deeper.
Each individual or group of people he associated with, they more or less determined what his life would be like. The only way he could grow was to separate. Some separation was good (The Five Percent, military) and some not so much (his white best friend).
Regardless, he broke free from mental slavery and went his own way. Life didn’t become magical just because he went to Japan. He had to work just as hard, if not harder, to mold his future. He did one cool thing then moved to the next.
5. Racism reveals convenient truths
Loco was apprehensive about his own racism until he realized he became a victim of it in Japan. What he dealt with in Yokohama PALES to what he dealt with growing up but he looked at it differently. Instead of saying “White people are bad”, he said “Wholy crap, i’m the problem!”.
helped him write this book helped him look at who he was as a person. He wasn’t racist to the point where he played the victim card but he realized that he wasn’t any better than everyone else. Once he got rid of that mindset, he was able to explore himself better. It started in the gang and ended with Aiko.
I honestly believe his convenient truths helped him have a better relationship at his school, his roommates, and folks back at home.
I gave this book a 5 out of 5 on Amazon. I believe anyone owes it to themselves to read this and get a glimpse of a man in Japan without all the usual stuff. It might make you laugh, cry, and think. Maybe not in that order but you never know.
Get Hi! My Name Is Loco And I Am A Racist today!