McWhorter, a linguistics professor, ventures again into his sideline as a black public intellectual as he did in his earlier work, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America
(2000), this time examining the direction--or misdirection--of black leadership in America. His working assumption is that black leaders--wedded to the political left, the Democratic Party, and affirmative action--are out of step with the times. He argues that the civil rights era is dead, and appropriately so. The new battleground against racism requires individual rather than collective action. McWhorter criticizes the icons and issues of black leadership from Randall Robinson on reparations, to Jesse Jackson's shakedown of lucrative deals for his friends, to Al Sharpton for perpetuating notions of victimhood. McWhorter's criticism of this old vanguard of the civil rights movement is formulaic in the mode of the Republican right wing. However, his real contribution to the debate regarding new directions for racial progressiveness is his emphasis on the positives of black endurance and progress. Despite its partisan slant, this is a worthy book. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"Bill OReilly with a Ph.D." -- Black Issues Book Review
"McWhorter writes elegantly and covers plenty of turf . . . which ranges from rap music to reparations . . . [An] important book." -- The Wall Street Journal