First Lady’s Corner: Review of Imperium in Imperio

Review of: Imperium in Imperio


The contrast between the two main characters in Imperium at Imperio, is indicative of the color and class discrimination which prevails within the Afro-American community to this day. It is a distinction which the Caucasian population makes between us and one in which the Black community also partakes. The lighter your skin color, the more likely you are to get ahead in life. The darker your skin color, the more you have to do to prove your worth. In Imperium at Imperio, we see that this contrast is made between Belton, a dark-skinned man with two African American parents, and Bernard, a light-skinned man with an African-American mother and a Caucasian father. Belton and Bernard both have lives that intersect but are on to very different courses. Belton in comparison to Bernard endures more sufferings and must spend more time and energy proving his intrinsic worth.


I immediately empathize with Belton as he endures more than his share of hardships. I believe that his skin color has much to do with some of the hardships he endures as a Black man. As intelligent as Belton is, he cannot overcome certain obstacles in his life. Being from a poor family and brought up by a single mother who raised five children alone, already has him starting life at a disadvantage. In my estimation, Belton’s mother does a great job raising the children. It is quite difficult to raise children alone in this century, let alone in her time. Enrolling Belton in school is a measure that opens doors for Belton. Even with the shameful treatment he receives at school, his mother makes the wise choice in keeping Belton in school so that his brilliant mind does not go to waste.  


Bernard on the other hand, is born with many advantages. The greatest advantage is having money at his disposal. Wealth and a lighter skin tone allow him to go to a good university and become a lawyer. Bernard is very dependent on his mother and she is the one directing his life behind the scenes, along with his secret senator father.


Belton suffers from anger management issues. Having an ill temper and being assertive get him into a great deal of trouble. Being a Black man in the era where Caucasians do not think twice about hanging a Black man, having such a bad temper is a very dangerous thing. His temper continually compels him to seek revenge. Belton’s darker skin color and status do not prevent him from thinking of himself very highly. His dignity and assertiveness are qualities which lead to some near-death experiences; it surprises me how bold he is in affirming his rights. Growing up in the south in his era, he must know how grave it is for a black man to be so forceful.


Bernard becomes a lawyer and utilizes his oratory skills to try cases, including one for Belton. Bernard also gains a favorable political position thanks to his father’s financial backing, and his skin color not being too dark. Even though Bernard is of a lighter skin tone, he does not lose his grounding of the fact that he is a black man. His wife Viola’s death is also a great motivator in his quest for equal rights for the black race.


From childhood to adulthood, Belton and Bernard’s paths cross continually. The Imperio (secret governing body) is what continues to link them together until the death of Belton.


I really enjoyed reading this book. The writing style is most impressive. I liken the writing style to a kind and dignified gentleman showing you around his house. He goes from door to door politely explaining everything you see. When you try to get ahead of yourself by going to the next door, he gently nudges you into following his direction. He must explain things about one room before you can enter the next or it won’t be as meaningful for you. I loved it! 


In conclusion, Imperium at Imperio deals with two characters who come from diverse backgrounds, but whose paths continually cross. Status and color had much to do with getting ahead in the 19th century and unfortunately, today we still have not graduated from making these types of distinctions.

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