From Library Journal
Woodson, founder and president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, argues for increased recognition and support of agents of grass-roots change in the inner city. Like William Julius Wilson (The Truly Disadvantaged, LJ 10/1/87), Woodson claims that race-based programs like affirmative action disproportionately benefit more privileged people of color. In addition, Woodson blames elitist Civil Rights leaders, social service bureaucrats, and academics for protecting their own positions more than empowering the disadvantaged. He also indicts the media for focusing on dysfunction among the poor but glossing over the moral failings of the privileged. His portraits of three effective programs highlight the potential of flexible programs, open to all, that are run by local people in a way that involves clients and demands discipline and service. While Woodson makes a compelling argument, he does ignore the broader structural causes of lack of economic opportunity. Recommended for larger public libraries.?Paula Dempsey, Loyola Univ., Chicago
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Where Thomas Sowell and other black conservatives are popular, this parable of moral regeneration through religious-based grassroots groups emphasizing self-help will have appeal. Woodson is founder and president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, formerly affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, and a 1990 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. Here he uses the biblical tale of Joseph and the pharaoh to draw a bright line between "modern-day Josephs," who "have forged an effective internal, spiritual response to the spiritual and moral atrophy of our civil society which goes far beyond the limitations of conventional remedies of professional therapy and economic assistance," and "the Pharaoh's Court" --the civil rights establishment, the "poverty industry," some politicians and academics--who preach victimization and define racism as the source of all woe. There's useful information on grassroots programs' success in dealing with addiction, parolees, and former gang members, among others. As for Woodson's polemics: one either believes
the Bible and Adam Smith have all the answers, or one doesn't Mary Carroll