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Race Experts: How Racial Etiquette, Sensitivity Training, and New Age Therapy Hijacked the Civil Rights Revolution Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (December 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074252759X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742527591
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,955,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"One of our best-kept secrets and one of our greatest tragedies" is the undermining of the civil rights movement's universalism and moral truths by diversity theorists, who aim to "liberate whites from their alleged racism and blacks from their assumed bondage of low self-esteem," declares Syracuse University historian Lasch-Quinn. By attributing racial tensions to psychological factors, people like Price M. Cobbs and William H. Grier, coauthors of Black Rage (1968) who "believed that slavery created a set of interracial dynamics that led to a particular pathological mentality in slaves" persisting through generations into the 1960s drew attention away from bigger complexities of justice and inequality, she writes. The "rise of the therapeutic" in the form of encounter groups and sensitivity training created milieus in which psychological disorders are traced to all-pervasive white racism, Lasch-Quinn argues, rather than to social injustices that could be righted through political activism. In her view, such attitudes appear even in recent books like Beverly Tatum's "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" and Other Conversations about Race. Lasch-Quinn faults diversity trainers in latter-day workplaces for relying on broad stereotypes about groups She believes that children's multicultural "self-esteem literature" can affirm children (The Black Snowman) without resorting to "boosterism" (Nappy Hair). Despite many convincing examples, Lasch-Quinn ignores recent books that could complicate her thesis, such as Ellis Cose's The Rage of a Privileged Class. And while she notes that diversity experts frame a world in which social faux pas are deemed racism, she could better acknowledge the persistence of white privilege.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Lasch-Quinn, a history professor, probes the intersection of the civil rights struggle and modern social psychology, in particular the human potential movement. She highlights the "overthrow of the social code of segregation" and the adoption of an etiquette of black assertiveness and white submissiveness that has produced a "harangue-flagellation" ritual that does not advance the goal of racial equality. Contrary to the goals of the civil rights movement, which sought to remove distinctions based on race, Lasch-Quinn points to a cottage industry of experts on racial differences that perpetuates differentiation. She draws parallels to the behavior codes evinced by racial segregation and notes the danger that the new racial etiquette will make interaction between the races a social minefield, discouraging contact. She recalls the early history of social psychology as applied to race relations and cites books and movies that have either demonstrated the tortured landscape of racial etiquette or attempted to educate people about it. This is sure to be a controversial book among readers interested in race issues. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David A. Ward on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book lays the blame for the demise of the civil rights movement at the doorstep of a collection of professionals she calls "race experts." These so-called experts have carved out niches for themselves in the last thirty years in fields such as psychology and social work as well as newer professional roles such as diversity trainers whose main objective is to change the racist beliefs of white middle-class Americans. Here, Lasch-Quinn argues that rather than ameliorating racism, race experts have only served to make everyone overly anxious about inter-racial exhanges. To support this argument, she mines an array of sources from popular culture from the 1960s through the 1990s - including films, novels, and advice books, books about therapy and encounter groups, diversity training manuals and videos, and media accounts of multicultural education.

By focusing narrowly on particular sources, Lasch-Quinn ignores a number of other narratives about race that were also circulating during this 30 year time period. As many scholars of race relations have found, Americans continue to tell stories about innate superiority of whites and don't feel guilty about it, stories that disavow the significance of race altogether, and stories about building coalitions and universal human rights, to name only a few. Finally, what Lasch-Quinn fails to point out is that neoconservatives have already come up with a clever rebuttal to the ritual of racial reprimand. People of color who mention race or racism are now ritually reprimanded for "playing the race card.
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Yours Truly VINE VOICE on January 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a historian, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn should revisit the events of 1968. Elected President that year, partly in reaction to the rioting that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Nixon gladly embraced the advice of Daniel Patrick Moynihan to practice a policy of "benign neglect" toward the African American community. The administration decided against rebuilding the nation's cities, and white Americans exited en masse to the suburbs.
Linking to the work of her father (Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism) Lasch-Quinn instead blames angry black men and wimpy white liberals for disrupting what had been, as she sees it, an ever-expanding, polite circle of inclusion. She claims that various individuals deployed the tools of humanist psychology to make piles of money making whites feel guilty and helping corporations deal with a more diverse workforce without expanding democracy's benefits. I was intrigued by her argument that diversity training, by dealing primarily with employes' emotions, distracts them from larger issues of equity in the workplace, but she doesn't develop it.
Instead, she's bent on belittling anyone who continues to argue that racism is virulent in America. She doesn't address the fact that African Americans as a group still receive poorer housing, education, and health care and greater prison time than their white counterparts. Putting all the "race experts" she despises out of business wouldn't change that, but perhaps she'd consider it impolite to say so.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Plain Talk on January 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Plain Talk - Volume 1

When looking at the title and liner notes, I thought this book was going to focus on Race Experts that we all know. (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) Or maybe this book will focus on talking heads that we always see on T.V. talking about race--Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West, Skip Gates, Larry Elder) Instead most of the book centered on obscure workshops that most people have never heard of. I did enjoy many aspects of the book. My favorite was the discussion of the book Nappy Hair. I vaguely remember this event, but Race Experts made many things clear. If I were the child of an African-American child in 3rd grade, I would not want a white teacher reading a book of that nature to my child. It's amazing that this teacher, being inexperienced, did not consult another teacher before reading Nappy Hair to the class. The parents had a right to be angry, but not that angry. In my book Plain Talk, I state upfront, that I do not believe that there is a such thing as a Race Expert. This book has solidified my stance.
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9 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mike Sims. on February 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
... No made up hypothetical abstract theorization in this book. Not a vast this- or that-wing conspiracy, but instead only truthful reality. In tune with, "the criminals' behavior is so obvious they are now profiling themselves," her book makes great timing to display the excess of how white America is obviously being run over by what I see as revengeful behavior. Explaining how minority leaders and mainstream idols are profiling themselves as irrational, illogical, motivated by vile emotionalism and possibly allaround incompetent of any better leadership, the author's writing is backed with only the most blatant real-life, popular culture and everyday workplace examples of white societal submissiveness. She does not fabricate nor materialize, and the examples are so visable throughout society today (movies, television, billboard signs, music, workplace sensitivity, academic 'balancing,' etc.) that even after only one chapter no reader can escape feeling dumbfounded and thinking, "it's about time." The reader's eyes are opened not to a proposed concept but to the truth.
As a person myself who pays keen attention to the lopsided reverse-racism in America and it's idiocy, I indeed found continued use for the book and see it as almost by itself among hardprint. The author displays ingenuity and proposes new perspectives and new penetrating examples, and I particularly liked her investigative nature on how the mess is originating at the highest levels of academia and leadership, and simultaneously provides recent scenarios from such popular media as a Tom Cruise & Cuba Gooding movie.
I do want to emphasize that Lasch-Quinn, of who I do not know, is noticeably gifted in writing. There is a combination of simplicity, enjoyment, and wonderful truthfulness in her book that sincerely puts it in high regard.
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