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The Future of the Race Paperback – January 14, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679763783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679763789
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,290,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In a ground-breaking collaboration, and taking the great W.E.B. Du Bois as their model, two of our foremost African-American intellectual address the dreams, fears, aspirations, and responsibilities of the black community--especially the black elite--on the eve of the twenty-first century. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Two preeminent black American scholar/ authors, both affiliated with the department of Afro-American studies at Harvard, offer contemporary responses?reflections rather than policy recommendations?to W.E.B. Du Bois's famous challenge to "the Talented Tenth" about service to the black community. Given the ambitiousness of the title, the essays are brief?not much longer than Du Bois's 1903 essay plus his own later self-critique (both published in an appendix here)?and somewhat derivative of the author's previous writings. Gates recalls his passage to the Ivy League 25 years ago and the subsequent American political retrenchment and black middle-class's sense of guilt. The two black men he admired the most at Yale died young and unfulfilled; Gates suggests that his generation may find the quest for identity within their community more daunting than the struggle against white America. West, more directly critiquing Du Bois, argues that the patriarch disdained all but elite culture, and that black "cultural hybridity" (Coltrane, Wright, Morrison, etc.) best engages the challenge of America's "twilight civilization." Thus the Talented Tenth faces an identity crisis: it must decide whether to retreat into cultural rootlessness and hedonism or to strive, as West has argued often, for "radical democracy."
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sean C. on April 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've always enjoyed reading and listening to Cornel West, his ideas and observations are honest, regardless of public reaction. Maybe I enjoyed the book because I didn't compare the authors to Du Bois, I took them for who they are, modern day intellectuals. I found even the preface intriguing. There's a powerful observation in the preface that has been sitting heavily on my heart, "Being a leader does not necessarily mean being loved; loving ones community means daring to risk estrangement and alienation from that very community..." This is something we deal with on a daily basis in the black community, we're afraid to do the right thing because we're preoccupied with "keeping it real." Like I said, I appreciate the honesty from both authors and I would suggest this book to anyone interested in the present state of Black America. (But don't solely look to them to nurse the ills that plague our community, just meditate on their observations, the answers come when we put our heads together). Thanks.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Terry A. Green on February 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
In two visionary essays on the modern validity of W.E.B. Du Bois' "The Talented Tenth," Professors Gates and West have collaborated on a book that will enlighten anyone interested in race relations in America for years to come. To summarize "The Future of the Race" does not do it justice. Suffice it to say that the scholarship of these "three" learned men elevates the topic of race to higher ground. If you are looking for an easy read, or easy answers to racial issues, this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you dare to examine your own feelings about racism, I can't think of a better way to begin than by reading this book. I disagree with the reviewer from Chapel Hill who described the book as the "patter' of "public intellectuals." It's too easy to dismiss scholarly works as a product of academia, but thanks to intellectual giants like Du Bois, the essays of Gates and West have been made possible. Thank you, professors.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alex Thanos on December 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book picks apart the ideas of the most influential black scholar of the 20th century, W. E. B. DuBois. Gates and West talk of about the situation in black America and how black Americans should go about changing the poverty stricken race through DuBois' idea of the talented tenth. The Talented Tenth is the idea that the top 10% of a race will help save the rest of the race. West and Gates show how this idea can be a solution to many problems in the black community but they also talk of the problems that occur within the talented tenth. In this landmark publication, West and Gates, the top black modern scholars, come together to create a powerful book that lays out the truth for blacks in America.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Hutchinson on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend that if you are planning to read, or have recently read, W.E.B. Du Bois's 1903 essay `The Talented Tenth', that you also follow through and read `The Future Of The Race'. I, myself, landed on this book after reading The Talented Tenth. `The Future Of The Race', published in 1996, is a collection of essays by two of the foremost leading black public intellectuals: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cornel West. The compositions by Gates and West specifically address W.E.B. Du Bois and `The Talented Tenth' and offer a more contemporary perspective on Du Bois's call for Black intelligentsia to be the leaders of the race. Dr. West would probably state that his critique of Du Bois at the turn of the 20th Century is out of respect, admiration and love; however, he does not hesitate in underscoring the areas where Du Bois is lacking:

"The grand example of Du Bois remains problematic principally owing to his inadequate interpretation of the human condition and his inability to immerse himself fully in the rich cultural currents of black everyday life." (p. 55)

In the essay, `The Parable of the Talents', Gates interjects his own collegiate life experiences to provide the framework to the notion that so much diversity (socioeconomic, cultural, class, etc...) exists within African-American community that just the intelligent tenth of same group would find it difficult to satisfy Du Bois's request to `save the Negro race':

"As economic differences increase, the need to maintain the appearance of cultural and ideological conformity also increases. But it is these fake masks of conformity that disguise how very vast black class differentials really are.
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