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A Much-Needed Wake-up Call for the Black Community!
on November 17, 2001
This is unquestionably the best piece of factual non-fiction scholarship I have ever read. John McWhorter hits the nail right on the head in eloquently explaining the three "cults" that plague us as Black Americans - Victomology, Separatism, and particularly ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM. As a young Black man whose dearly departed mother instilled in him the value of education at an early age, who did well in school, and who was viciously ostracized and ridiculed by his Black peers for "actin' white" as a result, reading LOSING THE RACE represents the ultimate validation for me. The fact that so many Black young people see not only academic success, but a mere love of learning as something "not BLACK" is a CULTURAL problem I have witnessed my entire life. I realized in reading McWhorter's book that I am not alone.
The many anecdotes he gives poignantly and accurately explains the Black American self-induced psychological phobia of anything scholarly: how Black freshmen accepted at Berkeley after affirmative action was repealed (i.e. because of their high academic prowess and not their skin color) were looked upon as "OREOS" by the Black preference-benefitting upper-classmen; how when he was growing up one of his childhood friends had his little sister slap him for correctly spelling the word "CONCRETE"; how, while in graduate school, after engaging the professor in a discussion on the Swahili verb TO BE - a subject of dear interest to him - some other Black grad students approached him afterwards asking "whether or not he was a TRUE BROTHA." While reading, I had flashbacks of my own childhood experiences of being dissed almost daily by my own "people" for being smart and having the audacity to actually ENJOY school.
For years I have grown sick and tired of liberal "blacker than thou" pseudo-intellectuals who claim to have MY best interests at heart as a Black American. They blame all of our problems on racism, constantly making us out to be victims - even 30-plus years after the Civil Rights Movement! Yet, they are never willing to turn the microscope on us as Black Americans and how we should take responsibility for the ways in which we do ourselves in, but are quick to try to censor, berate, and/or brand as a "traitor" someone like McWhorter for doing so, all for the so-called crime of "airing our dirty laundry." If I, the youngest of six children and the product of a broken home in inner-city Cleveland, OH, can graduate high school VALEDICTORIAN, become the first college graduate in my family, earn a master's degree, and ultimately become a diplomat for the U.S. government, then what in God's name is wrong with (suburban) middle-class black students - as the author clearly points out in his discussion of Shaker Heights High School - who attend the best schools, with top-notch teachers, guidance counselors and other educational resources, have college-educated parents and therefore no excuse NOT to succeed, yet STILL choose not to apply themselves, blow off the importance of education, care more about being popular than being smart, and then later on want to turn around and blame "WHITEY" for all of the opportunities that they missed? The three "Cults"as accurately explained by the author are what's wrong.
Furthermore, for those Blacks who fear that this book will serve as "further ammunition for racist Whites to use against us," I say that such an arguement is a copout. We need to stop worrying about what white people think of us and start getting our collective house(s) in order.
This book NEEDED to be written, and I applaud Professor McWhorter for having the guts to write it as passionately and critically as he has. It serves as a much-needed wake-up call for the entire Black community.