In 1955 the murderers of Emmett Till, a black Mississippi youth, were acquitted of their crime, undoubtedly because they were white. Forty years later, O. J. Simpson, whom many thought would be charged with murder by virtue of the DNA evidence against him, went free after his attorney portrayed him as a victim of racism. Clearly, a sea change had taken place in American culture, but how had it happened? In this important new work, distinguished race relations scholar Shelby Steele argues that the age of white supremacy has given way to an age of white guilt -- and neither has been good for African Americans. As the civil rights victories of the 1960s dealt a blow to racial discrimination, American institutions started acknowledging their injustices, and white Americans -- who held the power in those institutions -- began to lose their moral authority. Since then, our governments and universities, eager to reclaim legitimacy and avoid charges of racism, have made a show of taking responsibility for the problems of black Americans. In doing so, Steele asserts, they have only further exploited blacks, viewing them always as victims, never as equals. This phenomenon, which he calls white guilt, is a way for whites to keep up appearances, to feel righteous, and to acquire an easy moral authority -- all without addressing the real underlying problems of African Americans. Steele argues that calls for diversity and programs of affirmative action serve only to stigmatize minorities, portraying them not as capable individuals but as people defined by their membership in a group for which exceptions must be made. Through his articulate analysis and engrossing recollections of the last half-century of American race relations, Steele calls for a new culture of personal responsibility, a commitment to principles that can fill the moral void created by white guilt. White leaders must stop using minorities as a means to establish their moral authority -- and black leaders must stop indulging them. As White Guilt eloquently concludes, the alternative is a dangerous ethical relativism that extends beyond race relations into all parts of American life.
In 1955 the killers of Emmett Till, a black Mississippi youth, were acquitted because they were white. Forty years later, despite the strong DNA evidence against him, accused murderer O. J. Simpson went free after his attorney portrayed him as a victim of racism. The age of white supremacy has given way to an age of white guilt—and neither has been good for African Americans. Through articulate analysis and engrossing recollections, acclaimed race relations scholar Shelby Steele sounds a powerful call for a new culture of personal responsibility.
Presents a study of the past half-century of American race relations, calling for a new culture of personal responsibility, a commitment to moral principles, and the elimination of white guilt and moral relativism.
From the author of the award-winning bestseller The Content of Our Character comes a new essay collection that tells the untold story behind the polarized racial politics in America today. In A Dream Deferred Shelby Steele argues that a second betrayal of black freedom in the United States--the first one being segregation--emerged from the civil rights era when the country was overtaken by a powerful impulse to redeem itself from racial shame. According to Steele,1960s liberalism had as its first and all-consuming goal the expiation of America guilt rather than the careful development of true equality between the races. This "culture of preference" betrayed America's best principles in order to give whites and America institutions an iconography of racial virtue they could use against the stigma of racial shame. In four densely argued essays, Steele takes on the familiar questions of affirmative action, multiculturalism, diversity, Afro-centrism, group preferences, victimization--and what he deems to be the atavistic powers of race, ethnicity, and gender, the original causes of oppression. A Dream Deferred is an honest, courageous look at the perplexing dilemma of race and democracy in the United States--and what we might do to resolve it.
Author: Shelby Steele
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2007-12-04
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
In Shelby Steele's beautifully wrought and thoughtprovoking new book, A Bound Man, the award-winning and bestselling author of The Content of Our Character attests that Senator Barack Obama's groundbreaking quest for the highest office in the land is fast becoming a galvanizing occasion beyond mere presidential politics, one that is forcing a national dialogue on the current state of race relations in America. Says Steele, poverty and inequality usually are the focus of such dialogues, but Obama's bid for so high an office pushes the conversation to a more abstract level where race is a politics of guilt and innocence generated by our painful racial history -- a kind of morality play between (and within) the races in which innocence is power and guilt is impotence. Steele writes of how Obama is caught between the two classic postures that blacks have always used to make their way in the white American mainstream: bargaining and challenging. Bargainers strike a "bargain" with white America in which they say, I will not rub America's ugly history of racism in your face if you will not hold my race against me. Challengers do the opposite of bargainers. They charge whites with inherent racism and then demand that they prove themselves innocent by supporting black-friendly policies like affirmative action and diversity. Steele maintains that Senator Obama is too constrained by these elaborate politics to find his own true political voice. Obama has the temperament, intelligence, and background -- an interracial family, a sterling education -- to guide America beyond the exhausted racial politics that now prevail. And yet he is a Promethean figure, a bound man. Says Steele, Americans are constrained by a racial correctness so totalitarian that we are afraid even to privately ask ourselves what we think about racial matters. Like Obama, most of us find it easier to program ourselves for correctness rather than risk knowing and expressing what we truly feel. Obama emerges as a kind of Everyman in whom we can see our own struggle to accept and honor what we honestly feel about race. In A Bound Man, Steele makes clear the precise constellation of forces that bind Senator Obama, and proposes a way for him to break these bonds and find his own voice.The courage to trust in one's own careful judgment is the new racial progress, the "way out" from the forces that now bind us all.
Author: John McWhorter
Release Date: 2006-12-28
Argues for a renewed commitment to achievement and integration in order to address critical issues facing the African-American community, including poverty, drug abuse, gang violence, and educational underachievement.
Author: J. Hill
Release Date: 2013-07-10
Genre: Social Science
Civil Disobedience and the Politics of Identity is an attempt to provide criteria for when it is both morally necessary and politically expedient to break with civic harmony social cohesion in the name of a higher social justice.
In this controversial essay collection, award-winning writer Shelby Stelle illuminates the origins of the current conflict in race relations--the increase in anger, mistrust, and even violence between black and whites. With candor and persuasive argument, he shows us how both black and white Americans have become trapped into seeing color before character, and how social policies designed to lessen racial inequities have instead increased them. The Content of Our Character is neither "liberal" nor "conservative," but an honest, courageous look at America's most enduring and wrenching social dilemma.
Author: Jason L. Riley
Publisher: Encounter Books
Release Date: 2016-01-05
Genre: Political Science
Why is it that so many efforts by liberals to lift the black underclass not only fail, but often harm the intended beneficiaries? In Please Stop Helping Us, Jason L. Riley examines how well-intentioned welfare programs are in fact holding black Americans back. Minimum-wage laws may lift earnings for people who are already employed, but they price a disproportionate number of blacks out of the labor force. Affirmative action in higher education is intended to address past discrimination, but the result is fewer black college graduates than would otherwise exist. And so it goes with everything from soft-on-crime laws, which make black neighborhoods more dangerous, to policies that limit school choice out of a mistaken belief that charter schools and voucher programs harm the traditional public schools that most low-income students attend. In theory these efforts are intended to help the poor—and poor minorities in particular. In practice they become massive barriers to moving forward. Please Stop Helping Us lays bare these counterproductive results. People of goodwill want to see more black socioeconomic advancement, but in too many instances the current methods and approaches aren’t working. Acknowledging this is an important first step.
Author: Shelby Steele
Publisher: Hachette UK
Release Date: 2015-02-24
Genre: Social Science
The greatest barrier to racial equality today is not overt racism, Shelby Steele argues in [Title TK], but white liberals. Under the guise of benevolence, liberals today maintain their position of power over blacks by continuing to cast them as victims in need of saving. This ideology underlies liberal social policies from affirmative action to welfare, which actually exacerbate racial inequality rather than mitigating it. Drawing on empirical data as well as his own personal experience, Steele demonstrates that these policies have not only failed, but have made it impossible to address the problems that plague the modern black community, and have ensured that black Americans will never be truly equal to their white countrymen, in their own minds or in practice. Forthright and persuasive, [Title TK] offers an unflinching look at the failures of liberalism and a compelling case that a return to conservative principles is the only way forward for African Americans—and for the nation.
Author: Thomas J. Sugrue
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2010-04-12
Genre: Social Science
Barack Obama, in his acclaimed campaign speech discussing the troubling complexities of race in America today, quoted William Faulkner's famous remark "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." In Not Even Past, award-winning historian Thomas Sugrue examines the paradox of race in Obama's America and how President Obama intends to deal with it. Obama's journey to the White House undoubtedly marks a watershed in the history of race in America. Yet even in what is being hailed as the post-civil rights era, racial divisions--particularly between blacks and whites--remain deeply entrenched in American life. Sugrue traces Obama's evolving understanding of race and racial inequality throughout his career, from his early days as a community organizer in Chicago, to his time as an attorney and scholar, to his spectacular rise to power as a charismatic and savvy politician, to his dramatic presidential campaign. Sugrue looks at Obama's place in the contested history of the civil rights struggle; his views about the root causes of black poverty in America; and the incredible challenges confronting his historic presidency. Does Obama's presidency signal the end of race in American life? In Not Even Past, a leading historian of civil rights, race, and urban America offers a revealing and unflinchingly honest assessment of the culture and politics of race in the age of Obama, and of our prospects for a postracial America.
Author: Jason D. Hill
Publisher: Bombardier Books
Release Date: 2018-07-10
Genre: Political Science
A black immigrant’s eloquent appreciation of the American Dream, and why his adopted nation remains the most noble experiment in enabling the pursuit of happiness. It has been more than fifty years since the Civil Rights Act enshrined equality under the law for all Americans. Since that time, America has enjoyed an era of unprecedented prosperity, domestic and international peace, and technological advancement. It’s almost as if removing the shackles of enforced racial discrimination has liberated Americans of all races and ethnicities to become their better selves, and to work toward common goals in ways that our ancestors would have envied. But the dominant narrative, repeated in the media and from the angry mouths of politicians and activists, is the exact opposite of the reality. They paint a portrait of an America rife with racial and ethnic division, where minorities are mired in a poverty worse than slavery, and white people stand at the top of an unfairly stacked pyramid of privilege. Jason D. Hill corrects the narrative in this powerfully eloquent book. Dr. Hill came to this country at the age of twenty from Jamaica and, rather than being faced with intractable racial bigotry, Hill found a land of bountiful opportunity—a place where he could get a college education, earn a doctorate in philosophy, and eventually become a tenured professor at a top university, an internationally recognized scholar, and the author of several respected books in his field. Throughout his experiences, it wasn’t a racist establishment that sought to keep him down. Instead, Hill recounts, he faced constant naysaying from so-called liberals of all races. His academic colleagues did not celebrate the success of a black immigrant but chose to denigrate them because this particular black immigrant did not embrace their ideology of victimization. Part memoir, part exhortation to his fellow Americans, and, above all, a paean to the American Dream and the magnificent country that makes it possible, We Have Overcome is the most important and provocative book about race relations to be published in this century.
Winner, Kirkus Prize for Non-Fiction, 2015 In the 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: it is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country's foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up and killed in the streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can America reckon with its fraught racial history? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children's lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path towards a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion, to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America's history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. Coates has received the National Magazine Award, the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story 'The Case for Reparations'. He lives in New York with his wife and son. ‘Coates offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son's life...this moving, potent testament might have been titled Black Lives Matter.’ Kirkus Reviews ‘I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’ journey, is visceral, eloquent and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory. This is required reading.’ Toni Morrison ‘Extraordinary...Ta-Nehisi Coates...writes an impassioned letter to his teenage son—a letter both loving and full of a parent’s dread—counselling him on the history of American violence against the black body, the young African-American’s extreme vulnerability to wrongful arrest, police violence, and disproportionate incarceration.’ David Remnick, New Yorker ‘A searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today...as compelling a portrait of a father–son relationship as Martin Amis’s Experience or Geoffrey Wolff’s The Duke of Deception.’ New York Times ‘Coates possesses a profoundly empathetic imagination and a tough intellect...Coates speaks to America, but Australia has reason to listen.’ Monthly ‘Heartbreaking, confronting, it draws power from understatement in dealing with race in America and the endless wrong-headed concept that whites are somehow entitled to subjugate everyone else.’ Capital ‘In our current global landscape it’s an essential perspective, regardless of your standpoint.’ Paperboy