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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 04/2015
  • 9780986416200
  • 330 pages
  • $16.95
Ebook Details
  • 03/2015
  • B00UO6ZOAO
  • 235 pages
  • $9.99
7-10 Split: My Journey as America's Whitest Black Kid

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

7-10 Split: My Journey As America’s Whitest Black Kid, is the memoir of Michael Gordon Bennett, who at age 5, escaped America’s fractious racial climate for the friendly streets of Madrid, Spain, only to return to America and be captured by hatred’s web, forced to simultaneously confront the personal anguish of his own existence, and the harrowing history of a nation in a centuries long battle with a malignant past. 

It’s late 1965 when the family returns to America after nearly three years in Spain. The military bubble continues to shield Michael from the painful consequences of a nation’s internal and violent struggle for equality. He remains isolated, living in the far reaches of northern Maine, oblivious to a world of racial animus. When finally confronted with his racial identity, Michael is devastated, lost in a world that, to his eye, is rapidly spiraling out of control. He embarks on a mission of discovery, not of his own doing, but dictated by his father’s military career—geography easily its own character. Each new location is fraught with a powerful dichotomy of untoward pain and heartwarming enlightenment. From a poverty-stricken inner city, to southern segregation and “Forced Busing,” to graduating from high school as “the only,” Bennett fights cultural inertia deeply rooted in America’s psyche. He confronts his own demons leading to a period of homelessness, all while battling a father suffering from PTSD after a year in Vietnam.

Reviews
Reflecting on America’s civil rights era, Bennett, cofounder and CEO of Bennett Global Entertainment, relives his coming-of-age years as a military brat traveling abroad and stateside in this understated, restrained memoir. The Bennett family, with his father in the U.S. Air Force, lives on a series of bases in Spain, Maine, Florida, and Colorado. The military bubble somewhat protects them from the challenges of Jim Crow. Bennett writes boldly of intense confusion in his racial identity, alienation within his black community, and unease among his white classmates in every new location. “Was I a white kid in black skin, or a black kid with white sensibilities?” Bennett writes. “Or did any of it matter?” When his battle-fatigued father returns from Vietnam with an alcoholism problem, the family tries to adjust to his erratic behavior, his conduct pushing each member to an emotional breaking point, but they never succumb to his failings. Mastering self-doubt, cultural inertia, and parental miscues, Bennett asserts in his quiet, unforgettable way that persistence and courage will always triumph. (BookLife)
Independent Publisher

Like many of you, I continue to grapple with America's ultimate sickness, seeking understanding, and ways to eliminate bigotry from my life. It took me years to realize, I couldn't control the habits and prejudices of others, but lord knows, I bumped by head hundreds of times trying. At times, based on my experiences, I felt preordained to carry this burden alone. Man, it's heavy. I'm glad I let that nonsense go, realizing we were all in this together."

So writes Michael Gordon Bennett in the prologue to his new memoir, 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid. It's one of the many, many times in the book where Bennett's candid style and understated way with words communicates the anguish of growing up on the wrong side of a society wrought with racism.

7-10 Split charts Bennett's youth, from his birth to his high school graduation. (The epilogue goes briefly into his life after, but most of the book is focused on his childhood and his teen years.) Graduating in 1975, Bennett's youth was set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. However, Bennett's story of growing up as a black boy in a racially fractious time is certainly not a typical one. In fact, Bennett's viewpoint on the subject is groundbreaking for two reasons, both of which make his account of national history and his history fascinating.

First of all, Bennett was an "army brat" as a child. As his father was a member of the United States Air Force, Bennett moved around a lot as a kid. At five years old, he and his family transplanted to Spain. Two years later, they returned to the United States and made their home in Maine. Bennett would also go on to live in Atlantic City, Florida, and Colorado, all before graduating from high school. Geography almost proves to be its own character in 7-10 Split, as Bennett's experiences—and especially his encounters with racism—tend to differ drastically from place to place.

Secondly, Bennett was a black person, but a light-skinned black person—a fact that often left him alienated from both his white classmates and his black classmates. That struggle is what gives 7-10 Split its title, a reference to the age-old, impossible bowling shot with two pins splt on either side of the lane. Caught in between two groups, Bennett ended up unable to knock down either pin. He was a black man but had light skin. He family had white friends and acquaintances, thanks largely to his father's post in the military and his family's time in Maine. He had escaped some of the oppression of the 1960s while people of his race had been left beaten and downtrodden. He was an outcast among blacks due to his circumstances, and an outcast among whites due to his skin color.

Needless to say, these circumstances did not make matters easy for Bennett while he was growing up. Living in Spain as a young child, Bennett spends the early years of his life completely ignorant to the gravity of the civil rights battle going on in his home country. Bennett and his family only lived in Spain for two years—from summer 1963 to November 1965—but both those two years proved to be vital years in the civil rights movement. As he notes in the prologue to 7-10 Split, his family missed many key events in American history while living overseas—from Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech to the JFK assassination to the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

Being outside of the United States during this racially fraught time leaves Bennett and his family somewhat "insulated" (as he puts it) from the violence, hate, bigotry and fear of the era. However, it also leaves him ill-equipped to handle life back in the United States—either in "White America" (Maine) or "Black America" (Atlantic City). What follows is a battle for identity and purpose, a battle to answer questions with no easy answers, and a battle against a system where what's fair and right aren't even a part of the conversation.

Throughout 7-10 Split, Bennett contends with homelessness, loneliness, and completely justifiable anger—all in intimate, emotional detail. Ultimately, though, Bennett's memoir isn't a treatise on rage, but a tribute to resilience and the power of the human heart. Bennett's ability to battle through adversity is admirable, and his writing shows him as a passionate, thoughtful, and eloquent author with unwavering love for his family and a remarkable penchant for seeing the best in people. In a year where Donald Trump's hateful bigotry has dominated the presidential election cycle, and where racial violence has simply begot more racial violence, the words and stories that Bennett shares in the pages of 7-10 Split are more important than ever. It's a book that should not be missed.

You can purchase 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid on Amazon.com or from Michael Gordon Bennett's website.

Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for IndependentPublisher.com, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at manningcr953@gmail.com.

Readers' Favorite

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Michael Gordon Bennett's 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid is a non-fiction memoir. Bennett's parents were teenagers when he was born, and his dad decided to join the armed forces to make sure he could provide for his family. The author's first real memories are of those years the family spent in Madrid, Spain, while his dad was stationed at Torrejon Air Base. Spain was sunny and warm, and the culture was welcoming and felt like home. A little over two years later, his dad's assignment to Loring Air Force Base had the family getting accustomed to the frigid temps and natural beauty of life in the far northern reaches of Maine. While the struggles for civil rights churned in most of the United States, those early years in Bennett's life were largely spent apart from it all. The march on Washington and the assassinations of JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King were viewed, as it were, from a distance. It wasn't until his dad served in Vietnam, and the family went to live in Atlantic City, New Jersey, that the author noticed the differences between the sheltered predominantly white existence he had been part of and that experienced by many in the black community. And later on, after his father returned from Vietnam and the family moved to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Bennett began to realize even more so the challenges faced by black people living in the Deep South. 

 

Michael Gordon Bennett's non-fiction memoir, 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid, is not fiction, but it reads as fluidly as good fiction does. I was instantly swept up in the author's world as he and his family moved from Spain to Maine and then from Florida to Colorado. I marveled at his descriptions of the church services he attended with his grandparents in Atlantic City and closed my eyes at one point, picturing in my mind the joyous service he described. I was also quite overwhelmed when, as a young teen, he won his school’s award for combined academic achievement and athletic excellence. This is a grand tapestry of a tale, a triumphant story of a young man's dedication, hard work and perseverance set amongst the backdrop of the racial injustice that persists in this country to this day. This coming of age story is remarkable; Bennett's stories about the mentors who helped him along his way and the triumphs of the group he was, albeit briefly, a part of at Tyndall are memories I won't be forgetting anytime soon. If you read one memoir this year, read 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid; it's most highly recommended.

 

Readers' Favorite

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Michael Gordon Bennett's 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid is a non-fiction memoir. Bennett's parents were teenagers when he was born, and his dad decided to join the armed forces to make sure he could provide for his family. The author's first real memories are of those years the family spent in Madrid, Spain, while his dad was stationed at Torrejon Air Base. Spain was sunny and warm, and the culture was welcoming and felt like home. A little over two years later, his dad's assignment to Loring Air Force Base had the family getting accustomed to the frigid temps and natural beauty of life in the far northern reaches of Maine. While the struggles for civil rights churned in most of the United States, those early years in Bennett's life were largely spent apart from it all. The march on Washington and the assassinations of JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King were viewed, as it were, from a distance. It wasn't until his dad served in Vietnam, and the family went to live in Atlantic City, New Jersey, that the author noticed the differences between the sheltered predominantly white existence he had been part of and that experienced by many in the black community. And later on, after his father returned from Vietnam and the family moved to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Bennett began to realize even more so the challenges faced by black people living in the Deep South. 

 

Michael Gordon Bennett's non-fiction memoir, 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid, is not fiction, but it reads as fluidly as good fiction does. I was instantly swept up in the author's world as he and his family moved from Spain to Maine and then from Florida to Colorado. I marveled at his descriptions of the church services he attended with his grandparents in Atlantic City and closed my eyes at one point, picturing in my mind the joyous service he described. I was also quite overwhelmed when, as a young teen, he won his school’s award for combined academic achievement and athletic excellence. This is a grand tapestry of a tale, a triumphant story of a young man's dedication, hard work and perseverance set amongst the backdrop of the racial injustice that persists in this country to this day. This coming of age story is remarkable; Bennett's stories about the mentors who helped him along his way and the triumphs of the group he was, albeit briefly, a part of at Tyndall are memories I won't be forgetting anytime soon. If you read one memoir this year, read 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid; it's most highly recommended.

 

News
07/08/2015
Huffington Post Story

Thanks to an excerpt about my book in The Huffington Post, I was invited to continue blogging about a variety of topics for HP. This wonderful exposure led to three radio interviews within a week, and opened doors to other opportunites, which I will announce at a later date.

08/01/2015
Leimert Park Village Book Fair

August 2015, has turned into a special month. I completed my first two book festival. The first, August 1 at the Leimert Park Village Book Festival in Los Angeles. I sold a dozen books in just a few hours and had the opportunity to present my information to county librarians. I'm now working closely with these librarians to get my memoir into the county system

08/06/2015
NABJ Author Showcase

I recently returned from the National Association of Black Journalist Convention in Minneapolis, where my book was selected for the Author Showcase. It proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, not to mention the book sales, and opportunity to present to so many great people in one place.

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 04/2015
  • 9780986416200
  • 330 pages
  • $16.95
Ebook Details
  • 03/2015
  • B00UO6ZOAO
  • 235 pages
  • $9.99

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