New York New York

The Pride, by Wallace Ford is fictionalized proof of what Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States has always maintained. 

There are millions of African Americans like herself and President Barack Obama who worked hard and graduated from schools such as Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Historically Black Universities and other academic institutions I’m sorry to have omitted.
Some of them ended up in City Hall (New York), Wall Street and corporate America  as bankers and lawyers despite blatant and subtle racism.  Wallace Ford calls them The Pride.  I would hazard a guess that it is the pride of the race, the black race.

I hope people on the bus don’t mind, but I smile when I recognise Columbia University buildings in the novel and the subway where I trotted down the steps on my way to cover a story in City Hall.  It also has New York landmarks such as Riverside Church.
Columbia’s Journalism School did not tolerate mediocrity.  It treated us like real journalists, not students.  There were press conferences to attend, pushing and shoving to get the best photo for my print assignment and editing to be done.  My favourite was when the radio station red light came on and Professor Joyce Shelby said ‘you are on the air.’

The novel also has Harlem where I used to play, love and worship.  Most of all, The Pride swirls around the street, as in Wall Street, a subway station I didn’t care about, because everybody was tied down.  Most of them were in suits and ties.
The author obviously loves New York.  He immortalizes that love in Sture Jorgenson, a character that was born in Bergen Norway.  He is a waiter that befriends Paul Taylor, a lawyer and an architect of business deals that end up in mergers and de-mergers.

I’m clueless when it comes to big money vocabulary such as corporate finance or asset management, but I enjoyed the maze of strategies Paul Taylor devised to keep the bacon and biscuits in the house. 
Sture Jorgenson the waiter, ends up being Taylor’s partner in a successful restaurant, but his primary role in the book is racism through his eyes.  “My blond hair, blue eyes and Scandinavian accent give me the perfect camouflage in these kinds of situations.”

A perfect 10 to Wallace Ford for the way he describes characters.  You can mentally see the obnoxious Gordon Perkins, the ‘zen’ like Paul Taylor and the ambitious Bonita Woolsey Esq.
What gave the author a D is the ping pong.  Are we still in Taylor’s Harlem townhouse or at the memorial service in Riverside Church?  What kept me going is the lucid language with a dose of humour and of course, New York New York.

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness the novel.


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