It's a sad commentary on the state of black folks in white America when a book written by a black Muslim woman that tells black men how to slap black women around is selling like hot cakes in some areas of Washington.

I say "black folks in white America" because I don't think such sick, distorted thinking could emerge except in the context of a system that so denigrates blackness in order to celebrate whiteness that some black people are left to wallow in the level of self-hatred exhibited in "The Blackman's Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman," written by Shahrazad Ali.

In the seven months since its release, the book has had its share of critics, detractors, protesters, even pickets as Ali has promoted it across the country. Yet it is in its fifth or sixth printing and is averaging sales of 15,000 to 20,000 copies a week, according to Ali, who also founded Civilized Publications, the company that published the book.

At the five Pyramid Bookstores in the Washington area, the sales are phenomenal, said Nubia Kai, manager of the Georgia Avenue store. "We've been taking in $3,000 to $4,000 each week retail for months. I'm sure {Shahrazad Ali} will make a million dollars and more easily . . . . I understand the same thing is happening all over the country."

The $10 book is appealing to quite a cross-section of people, according to Kai. "A lot of Muslims, Hebrews, Rastas, hard-core cultural nationalists -- brothers who tend to be male chauvinists . . . like the book. But I'm also shocked at professional brothers who like this book and come in and buy it. Some buy 10 and spread them around. A lot of women buy it at the suggestion of their men."

Breaking what she calls "a tradition of secrecy and coverups," Ali describes black women variously as "the most confused piece of humanhood" on earth, "fearful and anxiety driven," "liars," "rebellious," "mentally imprisoned," "a slave to money," "nasty housekeepers" and possessing "polluted instincts."

She also lays the destruction of the black family solidly at the feet of black women because, she says, they are totally lacking in respect for black men.

"Her unbridled tongue is a main reason she cannot get along with the Blackman," writes Ali. "She often needs a reminder. This does not mean that she needs, or wants, to be battered or beaten to a bloody pulp. However, if she ignores the authority and superiority of the Blackman, there is a penalty. When she crosses this line and becomes viciously insulting, it is time for the Blackman to soundly slap her in the mouth."

When this book first came out, I was among those black journalists who did not want to dignify this kind of trash by writing about it. But this has become the book that won't go away. Ali's face is all over national television.

While she is attempting to address a subject that desperately needs to be explored, Ali has placed her discussion in such a biased, subjective, angry and sensational context that the overall effect is more dangerous than beneficial. Ali reflects the black self-hatred built in over centuries of white supremacy in America. In addition, many blacks are now afraid of confronting the real problems in America: the fratricide of young black men, the economic racism that keeps more than a third of blacks in deprivation, black men stacked in jail cells. The legacy of the civil rights era was that black male leaders who buck the system get killed. So blacks have been set up by white America in the last 20 years to fight internally.

"A book like this creates chaos in a complex situation," says Audrey Chapman, of the Howard University Counseling Service. "Black families and black couples surviving in America is not a simplistic matter. We don't have any other culture in this society where the men are singled out to be ridiculed and emasculated to divide and conquer a group. Black women don't do the dividing and conquering. They end up frequently with the burden and responsibility while the larger white society continues in the status quo.

"But Ali feeds into the black male's longtime feeling like the victim in white society. She says to him in so many ways that he is indeed the victim, but it is because of the black woman. She also plays into the black woman's conflict and guilt about being set up to be the chosen one over the black male by white America."

It is my fervent hope that black men and women don't go with the hype around this book. What we need to be about is empowering blacks to take responsibility for themselves and work together as families and couples. This book does not foster the "revolution of positive change" in black relationships that Ali promises. It creates confusion and chaos.