All posts by A.C. Del Zotto y Soler, Maxwell School of Political Science, Syracuse University

Book Review: The sorcerer’s Trick: a weapon of mass deception by Morgan Two Fires Kazrmbe

Using ironic, radical and humorous analysis in the tradition of Michael Moore, author/psychologist Morgan Two Fires Kazembe takes the reader on a no holds barred journey through class and race in America—past, present and future. Combining in-depth scholarship, free verse and satirical vignettes, “The Sorcerer’s Trick” demonstrates how age-old power relations, self-deception and hidden everyday contradictions keep social control alive and well in our society. Kazembé invites the reader to look at power struggle from a new perspective, one that is spiritual as well as critical, in order to challenge the so-called “Sorcerer’s Trick”. Kazembe’s style is highly reminiscent of the politically charged, subversive comic books of famed Mexican author, Rius (“AB Che”, “Imperialism for Beginners”, etc). My Latin American soul brothers and sisters have been using gallows humor (literally) for decades to reach out to the masses about some very unpleasant political, economic and human rights truths. American Scholars, on the other hand, including African American scholars, tend to be more uptight and earnest when addressing social ills. This is why “Sorcerer’s Trick” is so refreshing. Kazembe looks at topics such as police brutality and the widening rich-poor divide in ways that are compelling as well as wacky and entertaining. Like Rius, he irreverently uses cut and paste pictures from unexpected sources ranging actual slave sales announcements from the early 1800’s to “buppy” oriented business journals. My favorite is Kazembe’s use of an old sepia photograph of a white missionary reading to a group of ragged black children to introduce his critique of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” public education policy.

As an educator, I highly recommend “The Sorcerer’s Trick” as an introductory book for undergraduate African American, political and cultural studies courses. It is a creative alternative to the stuffy, verbose, ethnic studies literature that’s out there today. My eighteen year old students may, unfortunately, nod out when reading intellectual giants such as Cornell West. In contrast, the “Sorcerer’s Trick” is, by far, a better attention-grabber and discussion starter for the hiphop, MTV crowd.

Morgan Two Fires Kazembe hails from a small farming town in Alabama. A Viet-Nam era veteran, Dr. Kazembe has tapped into the relationship that violence and power have in impeding human potential. He has been a community psychologist and cultural/youth services leader in some of the nation’s most volatile communities for nearly three decades. He’s also a performance artist and his stage work (songs, spoken word, etc.) combine the poignant with the zany, just like his book. I caught one of his shows recently at a Salsa joint in Oakland. In a Moorish costume, surrounded by Congolese drummers and fire-twirling Algerian belly dancers, Kazembe’s spoken word performance was truly unique. I would describe it as Pan-African Dadaism with plenty of meaning and depth. The same characteristics that I found when reading “The Sorcerer’s Trick: A Weapon of Mass Deception”. “The Sorcerer’s Trick” is published out of a small Bay Area company called Crying Lion Corporation.