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Quitting America: The Departure of a Black Man from His Native Land Hardcover – January 26, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (January 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525947582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525947585
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,266,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Founder of the humanitarian group TransAfrica, Robinson has been eloquently angry in his calls, including The Debt and The Reckoning, for America to recognize the depredations suffered by the descendants of slaves. Part meditation, part rant, this book takes off from Robinson's move to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts (his wife's home country), but he has hardly mellowed. The book's first part is titled "Five Hundred Years of White Crimes and Self-Absolution in the Americas," contrasting the modest, decent nature of life in St. Kitts with a wealthy, harsh, racist, complacent America. Regarding violence, for example, "Americans only ask: who? Never: why?" The book's second part is a Chomskyesque essay of political manipulation regarding Iraq. The third circles back to contrast cash-obsessed America and the social goals of places like St. Kitts and Haiti, which, despite their modestness, are grounded in the commonweal of all. Robinson makes casual checkable errors (a proposal to put a U.S. base on St. Kitts did make the U.S. press) as well as more profound ones: the pronouncement "Only white countries are capable of killing so many at one time" immediately raises the specter of Rwanda. But incontrovertible wrongs fuel Robinson's ire: the U.S. government protects Haiti's leading human rights violator; slavery defender Robert E. Lee is widely commemorated; President Bill Clinton helped wreck the Caribbean banana trade during the U.S.-Europe feud over imports in 1999. Adding it all up, Robinson sees the difference between the status of blacks in America and blacks he sees in St. Kitts as the result of the "post-slavery American experience." Readers will find it difficult to disagree.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Robinson, founder of TransAfrica and author of The Debt (2000), which brought the slavery reparations issue mainstream attention, has always been at the center of controversy. His sit-down demonstrations and hunger strikes are rightfully credited with changing American foreign policy toward apartheid South Africa. For all of his criticism, and despite his book's title, Robinson is not "quitting America." But he is stepping back a bit--now living in St. Kitts, his wife's native country--to gain a better perspective on U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Robinson expounds on his belief that America has lost its grip on democracy and has become too comfortable living beneath its potential and ideals; vulgar capitalism has become the driving force. Through that prism, Robinson critiques the U.S. war on Iraq and also homes in on one of America's most troubling aspects, the population of alienated black American urban youth who fill our prison cells. Robinson reflects on life in St. Kitts, where materialism has its place, trust is a given, and democracy is practiced on a human scale. Robinson's commitment over the years to America's highest ideals justifies a rest from the mainland, and a hope that his rejuvenation will allow for his continued critique and analysis, which, though often painful, can only enhance an America willing to realize its ideals. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

What Mr. Robinson is displaying is anger.
Stephen Glanville
If a person of Mr. Robinsons background feels uncomfortable in America, I know I will never become comfortable in my native land.
TJH
The book brings to mind Burdick's "The Ugly American;" though Robinson dissects the species on its home turf.
S. J. Overman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm not black, but I thoroughly agree with Mr. Robinson's anger and disgust at what the USA has become. Many whites like myself would also love to "quit America" and are seriously considering it. The ugly face of America has been on full display since 9/11, tho it was always there of course, as Robinson ably explains in his books. It's true that blacks and Native Americans are the ones to have borne the full brunt of American atrocities, hypocrisy and oppression throughout its history. But many of us who have not experienced the same depth of suffering and marginalization but who are not rich, who have to struggle for every penny every day while we see our tax dollars benefitting only the richest, who believe in the same principles that Robinson does (justice, compassion, a deep hatred of the hypocritical chauvinism and ugly self-centeredness that is so prevalent in the US, esp. among the complacent and dominant white privileged upper and middle classes) yearn to live in a place where--as in St. Kitts--people care about each other, take care of each other, where arrogance and ignorance of the sentiments of other peoples is condemned, not celebrated. Robinson had the good fortune to have been able to move himself and his family to a better place, a place where people value each other. I know I am not the only one to have gone with him in spirit.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
MLK said it was one of the great wonders of the 20th century, black people's loyalty and literally dying devotion to the United States--checked the Iraq casualties lately? It is a hard place to live in with black skin. Just yesterday in my neighborhood I witnessed Rodney King II. No less than four white cops beating an unharmed black motorist nearly half to death over a minor traffic incident. Just last week I was spoken to and treated in a most unbelievable way, in a way that I know no white person in America would have been treated by one of our civil servants in blue, a traffic cop. Why? I drove up to an EZ pass lane where they were no longer accepting cash. I was called every name in the book, handcuffed etc for an honest and I would think common mistake. You would have thought I committed a capital crime. It's hard living with this sort of thing as a matter of routine. I could go on but won't. Randall made a good case for why no black person should be sticking around these parts. The ship's sinking anyway and we're the canary in the mine so we know. Time to tell America bye bye. It's been grand. Yeah. But we're tired of saving your white a$$ from itself, over and over and over again how many times since 1776? See ya later, take care. Life in the third world isn't so bad at least when Uncle Sam doesn't have a boot on their third world necks. Bravo RR.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Randall Robinson has put his detractors in a curious position: they have told him all his life that if America is such a bad place, why not just leave? Well, now he has. Quitting America soberly sheds light on the fact that many of us have grown increasingly aware of, that this country is without hope. The powers are too deeply entrenched, minds obsessed with too many glittering distractions and rhyming falsehoods, skulls and skins too thick to think or care anymore, a wasted horde of human beings compelled to the end to taking and taking and taking for the sake of a progress whose true face lay ugly and deep within the unconscious racial and class prejudices of western man. The logical consequence of European culture. Most Americans will live and die in America in quiet desperation, but it is to Robinson's great credit that he shows that there are warm shores to swim to for those who still have the spirit to leap overboard and flee the sinking ship. There is still hope for humanity, not because of America, but rather without America.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Kent Ponder on January 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
First off, know that I'm white, not black, so my glowing recommendation isn't "one brother supporting another." Robinson's writing is quietly impassioned, Koppel-crisp, calmly clear. His observations on the US's political, military and social errors are beautifully, intelligently, prudently stated. I found it hard to argue with Robinson's emotions or logic, which he exquisitely balances in simple yet powerful, unarguably honest descriptions.
Though fed up with what America has been and has become for him as a black man, his observations and opinions echo much that my wife and I have felt for years. He has chosen to move to a smaller, simpler, more honest and direct society in the Caribbean, and he describes the steps to that decision in spartan prose reminiscent of a Thoreau or Hemingway.
Reading Robinson is akin to contemplating the clean lines of Danish furniture. This is a book that, aesthetically and ideologically, deserves to be read. I can't imagine any sensible, sensitive and honest person being disappointed by this gracefully and skillfully crafted book.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Everything Randall Robinson says here is true. Every word of it. God bless him and the people he's stood up and fought for. I like the fact that he doesn't waste his time trying to suffer fools gladly. I know of a few black middle class professional people who have left the US for other places in Canada, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean in the last couple of years. Following in the steps of WEB DuBois, and other intellectuals tired of feeding the monster. Well done RR.
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