Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Penn Article

Author tells life of black bachelor

[Chris Poliquin/The Daily Pennsylvanian]
Author Lawrence Ross discusses his new novel about black male relationships in the Penn Bookstore.
Lawrence Ross' new novel goes into detail about the lives of 'friends with benefits'
By jessica fisher
September 20, 2005

In the midst of a tour that has included more than 500 speeches, Lawrence Ross spoke yesterday about bachelor life in graphic detail at the Penn Bookstore.
"Only money and power gets women, my brother. ... Everything else is just a distraction," Ross said, reading an excerpt from his latest novel, Friends with Benefits.

The book chronicles what Ross has found to be a current trend in dating among African-Americans. Ross based his fictional work on interviews with several single black Americans.

"What I found was that for what seems to be the first time, women are really in control [of the relationships]," Ross said. "But is the 'friends with benefits' trend in the African-American community going to eventually create long-term relationships?"

In fact, Ross said that none of the relationships he studied lasted more than six months.

Friends With Benefits is Ross' first fictional novel.

Ross went on to read a few excerpts from the novel, including some dialogue between the characters.

"Look at Jay-Z and Beyonce. ... Is she even going to look at Jay-Z twice if he's not a rapper and a multi-millionaire? The brother's talented, but he ain't the most handsome man in the pack."

His nonfiction works include The Ways of Black Folks: A Year in the Life of a People and the Los Angeles Times bestseller The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities in America.

A brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., since his initiation at the University of California at Berkeley in 1985, Ross spoke passionately about black fraternity life.

Ross said that he did not include the issue of pledging and hazing in The Divine Nine because it was the first widely circulated book about black fraternities, and he wanted to give readers a positive view of the organizations. However, he did condemn hazing during a question-and-answer session with the audience.

"I don't have a problem with pledging, but the problem is that there's no program I've seen to date that doesn't include ego or danger," Ross said.

Throughout his speech, Ross reiterated that membership in black fraternities and sororities is perpetuated well after college graduation, as many members stay involved after they get their degrees.

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