1969 - as Brooklyn smolders in the aftermath of the past summer's race riots, the family of young Joey Montaperto flees their beloved Italian neighborhood to start anew in a painfully white New Jersey suburb.
Ironically, the high school there is then later forcefully integrated and the sensitive Joey is confronted with another brutal racial conflict. When he is unexpectedly rescued from a hallway ambush by a murderous yet artistic loner however, he subsequently is introduced to an exciting new world of hip black culture. Finding his soul and "soul" in the writings of Malcolm X, he also experiences a doomed first love with a sizzling but heroin plagued Puerto Rican hairdresser, and finally a spiritual foray into the teachings of Islam. This, of course, creates a major conflict within his Catholic family and the local Mafia restaurant he is employed at.
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