Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Shelby Steele and John McWhorter on Blacks and Whites

In my opinion, no one writing today--evangelical or secular--is more perceptive than Shelby Steele on the relationship between blacks and whites in America. His latest Wall Street Journal article this morning is another must-read: Witness: Blacks, whites, and the politics of shame in America.

Mr. Steele has a new book coming out this Spring on these themes:

White Guilt : How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era
(Harper Collins; May of 2006)

Also worth noting is that John McWhorter, author of the book, Losing the Race: Self-Sabatoge in Black America, will be publishing a sequel due out at the end of the year:
Winning the Race : Beyond the Crisis in Black America (Gotham; December 29, 2005). Here is the description:

Four decades after the great victories of the Civil Rights Movement secured equal rights for African-Americans, black America is in crisis. Indeed, by most measurable standards, conditions for many blacks have grown worse since 1965: desperate poverty cripples communities nationwide, incarceration rates have reached record highs, teenage pregnancy and out-of- wedlock births are rampant, and educational failures are stifling achievement among the next generation. For years, prominent sociologists and pundits have blamed these problems on forces outside the black community, from lingering racism, to the explosion of the inner-city drug trade, to the erosion of the urban industrial base and the migration of middle-class blacks to the suburbs. But now, in an important and broad-ranging re-envisioning of the post-Civil Rights black American experience, acclaimed author John McWhorter tears down these theories to expose the true roots of today’s crisis, and to show a new way forward.

In Winning the Race, McWhorter argues that black America’s current problems began with an unintended byproduct of the Civil Rights revolution, a crippling mindset of "therapeutic alienation." This wary stance toward mainstream American culture, although it is a legacy of racism in the past, continues to hold blacks back, and McWhorter traces all the poisonous effects of this defeatist attitude. In an in-depth case study of the Indianapolis inner city, he analyzes how a vibrant black neighborhood declined into slums, despite ample work opportunities in an American urban center where manufacturing jobs were plentiful. McWhorter takes a hard look at the legacy of the Great Society social assistance programs, lamenting their teaching people to live permanently on welfare, as well as educational failures, too often occurring because of an intellectual climate in which a successful black person must be faced with charges of "acting white." He attacks the sorry state of black popular culture, where indignation for its own sake has been enshrined in everything from the halls of academia to the deleterious policy decisions of community leaders to the disaffected lyrics of hip-hop, particularly rap’s glorification of irresponsibility and violence as "protest." In a stirring conclusion, McWhorter puts forth a new vision of black political and intellectual leadership, arguing that both blacks and whites must abolish the culture of victimhood, as this alone can improve future of black America, and outlines steps that can be taken to ensure hope for the future.

Powerful and provocative, Winning the Race combines detailed research with precise argumentation to present a compelling new vision for black America.

From the Back Cover
Acclaim for Winning the Race:
"This is the work of a serious man who knows what the demons are and realizes that they must be identified and fought, not glibly redefined so as to maintain the old order of mush-mouthed ineffectiveness."
—Stanley Crouch, author of The Artificial White Man and The All-American Skin Game, Or the Decoy of Race

"John McWhorter demolishes the liberal conventional wisdom about the sources of poverty, crime, family breakdown, and other social ills that afflict the black community today, and offers a compelling alternative vision of how to move beyond the current crisis. Winning the Race is a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the problem of race in modern America."
—Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom, authors of America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible and No Excuses: How to Close the Racial Gap in Learning