The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier

28 Feb


So Oprah announced her new book for her book club.

I think a lot of us were surprised that she chose another biography/memoir. The first pick for 2007 is The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier and I, for one, can’t wait to read it. I’ve already picked up my copy and am ready to go.

I say that a lot of us were surprised at the choice because of the scandal with James Frey’s book A Million Little Pieces; which, it turned out, was mostly (if not all) fiction. Many wonder if the scandal surrounding his book is the reason it took Oprah so long to choose another selection.

Indeed, Elie Wisel’s breathtaking, heart wrenching memoir Night was the only selection for 2006. We can only hope she’ll choose more than one book for 2007.

Having admired Poitier’s work, I have never had the chance to read anything written by him. In actuality, I had no idea he had even written a book, let alone two. I know for a fact that the grace and poise he shows on screen will come forth in this book.

I’m not usually one for biographies; I find them boring and tideous. But I know I’m in for a treat with this one.

Growing up, my father tried to raise me as a racist. I knew that this was wrong, but in my family it was normal to look down on others who weren’t white, who weren’t like everyone else.

Thankfully, when I was around twelve or thirteen years old, I saw a movie that changed my life and how I viewed it: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

The idea that a white woman could date a black man was so amazing to me, sheltered as I was in white suburbia. There was only one black family in my entire neighbourhood and I had little to no exposure to anything that was considered different.

Sidney Poitier’s role in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? (as well as that of the woman and man who played his parents) showed me that though different, we were all the same.

I ran out to get The Measure of a Man on Saturday and I’m already more than half way through it. It’s been a long time since I have read a book that is life changing and I’m thankful, beyond words, to be reading Poitier’s words.

So in the end, all I can say is thank you: Thank you, Sidney, for opening my eyes, thank you for showing me that, despite our differences, we are all human; thank you for being an example for many and thank you for your words.

Thanks you Sidney and thank you Oprah. You have both changed my life for the better and I can never thank you enough.


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