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Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America Paperback – December 28, 2006
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Winning the Race examines the roots of the serious problems facing black Americans todaypoverty, drugs, and high incarceration ratesand contends that none of the commonly accepted reasons can explain the decline of black communities since the end of segregation in the 1960s. Instead, McWhorter posits that a sense of victimhood and alienation that came to the fore during the civil rights era has persisted to the present day in black culture, even though most blacks today have never experienced the racism of the segregation era.
McWhorter traces the effects of this disempowering conception of black identity, from the validation of living permanently on welfare to gansta raps glorification of irresponsibility and violence as a means of protest. He discusses particularly specious claims of racism, attacks the destructive posturing of black leaders and the hip-hop academics, and laments that a successful black person must be faced with charges of acting white. While acknowledging that racism still exists in America today, McWhorter argues that both blacks and whites must move past blaming racism for every challenge blacks face, and outlines the steps necessary for improving the future of black America.
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Provocative . . . both grounded in history and forward-looking. (Publishers Weekly)
A provocative challenge to conventional wisdom. (USA Today)
About the Author
- ASIN : 1592402704
- Publisher : Avery (December 28, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781592402700
- ISBN-13 : 978-1592402700
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 15.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.29 x 1.2 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #600,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This book is engaging, well-reasoned, and courageous, though somewhat verbose. As a black person he can critique other black people in ways that whites can’t, at least not without being called a racist, which is key reason he wrote the book – to promote dialogue over ideology. But it turns out he was too optimistic about the declining influence of the racist / white supremacy rhetoric. That is, he could not foresee the Financial Crash of 2008, the subsequent Great Recession, and the election of Trump, with all the stress this has put on the bottom 90% of all backgrounds. As Amy Chua says in “Political Tribes”, today “every group feels attacked, pitted against other groups not just for jobs and spoils but for the right to define the nation’s identity.” Where I live in Washington State, a measure to reinstate affirmative action was defeated a week ago by a slight margin, with Asian opposition in the lead.
In his earlier book on “Losing the Race”, McWhorter took blacks to task for “victimhood, separatism, and anti-intellectualism” after the Civil Rights era. In particular he says that affirmative action has outlived its usefulness and is discouraging blacks from competing with whites and Asians. Therapeutic alienation “provides a standing excuse for mediocrity” (p. 385). He also points out that even when Jim Crow prevailed, many cities had thriving black business districts and competitive black schools, so he asks, “Why not today?”, when even middle class blacks lag behind. And why the dysfunctional black ghetto? Thus some minorities may have voted against affirmative action in Washington State because they view it as perpetuating second class citizenship in an era when classism far outweighs racism. Meanwhile the white working class has lost so much ground economically that it also feels it has been discriminated against.
Some of the specifics of the book feel out of place in 2020, and his claim that therapeutic alienation was on its way out is seriously suspect given the current climate. However, it’s a powerful lens through which one can see current events, and I strongly recommend it for that reason alone. This is one of those rare books that I read on Kindle first and was moved to buy a hard copy.