By: Frederick Douglass Reynolds
Publisher: Mindstir Media, LLC
Publication Date: August 2021
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: February 14, 2022
Frederick Douglass Reynolds delivers a fascinating memoir that transcends far beyond his experience of being a cop in Compton, CA in Black, White, and Gray All Over. The tangible grit, sweat, tears and so much more he pours from his soul onto the pages make this body of work a ‘must read.’
Frederick Douglass Reynolds was not your typical young boy who idolized police and knew from a young age that ‘someday’ he would be a policeman. Rather, he started life as a young Black child in Detroit and his early life experiences leaned more to sharing a ride with pimps and prostitutes and a future that would undoubtedly land him on the inside of a prison looking out. The story begins with Mr. Reynolds enlightening his audience about his parents — Charles Delton and Theresa E. (Kirby) Reynolds of Rocky Mount, Virginia. Charles Reynolds was an alcoholic and his mother rarely held back from giving Frederick a good ‘strapping’ with an electrical cord if she deemed it necessary. However, this is not the memoir of the ‘stigmatized’ interpretation of the life of a young Black boy growing up in the late 60’s and early 70’s and how he rose from poverty to beat all the odds.
From the onset, Mr. Reynolds anchors his voice and leads his audience down the path of a fascinating life of a man who knows hardships as much as joy; defeat as much as accomplishment and the glue that keeps him together throughout his journey is that of commitment, integrity, and perseverance. At barely sixteen, Frederick is exposed to the east side of Detroit with his new-found buddy Rodney. Fast forward to June 1977 and Federick is arrested for robbing the local paperboy. The curveball decision of joining the Marines is Frederick’s first beacon of light in life where there is hope. After the service, Frederick lands in Compton, CA where he will spend the next thirty plus years of his life ‘protecting and serving’ under the employ of the Compton Police Force.
There are so many facets to this book it is difficult to unpack it in a few paragraphs. Mr. Reynolds held my attention and rapt interest from the very first page to the proverbial end. He portrays profound eloquence in sharing the decades of his experiences and what it was like to be a black cop in one of the most horrifically crime-ridden areas of Southern California. When I hear ‘Compton,’ my mind immediately goes to gangs, violence, and divided races. Yet, Mr. Reynolds has a profound way of spelling out the realities with precise word placement. There are nuances of injustices served upon the Black man in a ‘white’ environment, but it’s done with his innate ability to sway the reader from a ‘them versus us’ cadence. There are countless moments throughout this book when I found myself stopping and re-reading a scene because it was utterly brilliant the way Mr. Reynolds used his obvious ability to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell.’ One such example: “...the political corruption going on in Compton was beyond belief. The city politicians were thieves who stole the dreams of their constituents. They didn’t use guns; they used words and contracts, falsehoods, and fragile ideals. Eloquent politicians who are charming speakers with hidden agendas are much more dangerous than honest, inarticulate buffoons… In a city awash in blood, the more innocuous white-collar crimes and political graft went unnoticed by everyone...” Mr. Reynolds wrote an exceptional passage toward his thoughts on race: "...We don’t need your pity, your condescension, or your extra test points because of our skin color. In my eyes, to accept such help is an admittance that Blacks need help because Whites are superior. We just demand the same opportunity. Nothing more, nothing less...” I can only hope Mr. Reynolds’ pen is just getting warmed up! May I have another, please?
Quill says: Black, White, and Gray All Over is a personal memoir of experiences that breathes life and meaning into the words, ‘to protect and serve.’
For more information on Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man's Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement, please visit the author's website at: authorfrederickreynolds.com