Black Players: The Secret World Of Black Pimps by Richard and Christina Milner Review by The Rawness
This book is one I read a while back, when it was still out of print. I had to buy it used via the Internet, and a small, ratty, chewed-up, faded, yellow, torn copy of it ran me $50, and you know what; I still consider it one of the best bargains I've ever gotten, even though I finished it in a single night, mostly because it was so good I couldn’t help reading it in one sitting. The premise of this book is truly insane.
Richard and Christina Milner were husband and wife, and both were students in the graduate program for Anthropology at UC Berkeley. For their doctoral dissertation, they wanted to do something different than the usual. At the time it was all about going to “exotic” locales like New Guinea, East Africa, Southeast Asia, and etc.; they decided that there was no need to travel so far when the ghetto areas of America’s cities had such a rich, fascinating culture that was just as foreign to a White academic as any of the other distant cultures anthropologists typically gravitated to.
So, his wife worked as a stripper under the name “Tiger Red” for two years in a seedy, ghetto strip club frequented by pimps, hustlers, and whores and they did a serious, rigorous, academic paper examining and dissecting the subculture. The result is mind-blowing, and it really transcends just the topic of pimps and the streets. The commentary gets deeper and more profound than you’d initially suspect, and the Milners show a real respect for the people they’re interviewing, and avoid the need to either excuse, glorify, or morally condemn any lifestyles. This project eventually ends up getting Richard Milner kicked out of the Berkeley’s Anthropology program.
The whole book is great, but the last three chapters especially were mind-blowing to me, and the incredibly brutal and cynical relationship and dating insights from the pimps is really something else to behold, whether you end up agreeing with it or not. The last three chapters are called “Sex, Race, Manhood, and Womanhood,” which is still perhaps the most insightful, provocative discussion of race and sex in America that I’ve ever read; The Pimp Game is a Model of the World, and The Secret America.
Tariq Nasheed a few years back bought the rights to the book and rereleased it, so now you can get it at Amazon for only $27; in recent years since I've bought it, and before the rerelease, the price had reached over $300; it was that much in demand,. The one downside is I love the original cover so much better, and find the new one a little cheesy in comparison.
You can hear Tariq Nasheed interview Richard Milner about the book here.
You can hear Alan Roger Currie interview Richard Milner about the book here. –The Rawness
(You can check out more of Tariq’s stuff here.
You can check out more of Alan Roger Currie’s stuff here.
Finally, you check out more from The Rawness here.)
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