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Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America Hardcover – December 29, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (December 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592401880
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592401888
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this sequel to his 2000 bestseller, Losing the Race, McWhorter exhorts blacks to leave their "anti-whitey theatrics" behind and acknowledge the new racial realities of America. What began as civil rights activism in the late 1960s, he argues, has devolved into empty gestures that leave blacks "defined by defiance" and unwilling to face their problems with innovative responses. The flight of industrial jobs and middle-class blacks from the inner city and the spread of drugs should all have been dealt with head-on, he writes, but instead a debilitating rejectionist attitude took hold. McWhorter vigorously claims that, while blacks weren't well off before the '60s, black Indianapolis in 1915 wasn't "New Jack Indy," and blacks managed to get by without welfare. Yet welfare ended urban blacks' self-reliance and "taught poor blacks to extend the new oppositional mood from hairstyles and rhetoric into a lifestyle separated from mainstream American culture." Blacks grew to think of studying hard as "acting white," and a destructive sense of "therapeutic alienation" that ignores personal responsibility permeated black society, from school and hip-hop culture to leadership and politics. Accessible, if at times long-winded and repetitive, McWhorter's provocative, tough-love message is both grounded in history and forward-looking. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

McWhorter, author of Losing the Race (2000), returns to expand on the theme that the problem with black America is black centered. He attributes the current crisis in black America to that point in the mid- to late-1960s when the countercultural forces opposed to the war merged with a black-as-perpetual-victim perspective, creating a sense of entitlement that has undermined notions of personal responsibility. To make his point, McWhorter strikes at progressive critiques about the causes of the black underclass, from Douglas S. Massey's American Apartheid and its focus on hypersegregation to Wilson Julius Wilson's Truly Disadvantaged and its emphasis on job loss and withdrawal of the middle class from the inner city. McWhorter dismisses these claims as insignificant, if not outright false. The theme--the Left is wrong and the Rright is right--is his direction, if not objective. Although readers with strong opinions on the subject may not be moved by McWhorter's work, his arguments are worthy reading for more open minds on the Left, Right, and in between. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

The book has an optimistic tone.
Ronald T. Jones
The book would be a perfect assignment for students in the social sciences.
Dr. Joseph S. Maresca
Winning the Race by John McWhorter is an important and engaging read.
Charles J. Rector

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Wynton C. Hall on January 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have long been an admirer of John McWhorter and his scholarship. My background in rhetoric and his in linguistics makes us fellow travelers of a sort. But my admiration for Professor McWhorter is more a function of his courage, intellectual independence, and his fresh, crisp writing style. Moreover, his positions are always deftly argued and rooted in serious study and reflection. That he has to endure the kind of slanderous ad hominem attacks he sometimes encounters is sad. Yet, ironically enough, these actions only serve to bolster his thesis: bereft of any new ideas, the left must use race as an electoral bludgeon, a mechanism designed to ensure obeisance. And so, his critics' barbs morph into boomerangs; they backfire.

Still, it's regrettable that discourse has devolved and brought us to this point. With Professor McWhorter and scholars like him courageously leading the way, perhaps we may yet still "Win the Race." Let us hope so.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Ronald T. Jones on January 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Winning the Race, by John Mcwhorter, is the work of a man who has thought long and hard about race and the condition of African Americans. Mcwhorter's approach to this study is that of an observer who has soaked in his surroundings and then delved painstakingly into the task of investigating why things are the way they are. Has he found the right answers? I won't say that the conclusions in this book are definitive, but they are plausible, and they do make a great deal of sense. Mcwhorter's questions are as follows: how did certain black inner city neighborhoods across the nation become the drug ravaged, urban war zones that they are today? Why are so many black children underperforming academically? And perhaps most importantly, is racism to blame for the fact that blacks trail whites in every economic and educational indicator? Or is the problem a cultural one? The author's answers to these questions are very well thought out. He is aware of opposing arguments on the various issues he has covered and has regurgitated those arguments in the pages of his book so as to debunk them. When academics have blamed the removal of factories, hence jobs, from the inner city as a reason why black unemployment spiraled and working class black neighborhoods deteriorated into cauldrons of dead end poverty, he refutes the notion. If factory relocation were to blame, he asks, why did this terrible social blight affect the black community in Indianapolis, where factory jobs remained accessible to blacks? Mcwhorter analyzes poor blacks' disproportionate dependence on welfare, pointing out how blacks early in the twentieth century were disinclined to accept charity. Mcwhorter brings much history into his argument to compare and contrast the attitudes of African Americans in the past with those of the present.Read more ›
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By D. A. Martin on February 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
John Hamilton McWhorter, V, is a scholar whose research and insight into black American culture make his contribution to today's race relations debate crucial for three reasons. First, he takes readers on a journey back in time to black life in America before the 1960s. In doing so, he shows that, despite living under brutal and systemic racial oppression, crushing poverty, and not far removed from slavery, hard-scrabble black folks carved out a sustainable existence for themselves by living by a cultural credo where you basically played the hand you were dealt in life as best you could.

Secondly, juxtaposing this earlier slice of black life next to the 1960s - where racism was on the down-slope and the overall economic situation for black Americans was improving - McWhorter demonstrates how embracing the Anti-Establishment Zeitgeist of the sixties all but nullified the cultural credo of that earlier era, thereby rendering blacks - especially the black poor - culturally worse off than previously. Lastly, in Winning the Race as well as in his two previous books (Losing the Race and Authentically Black), McWhorter offers a ray of hope on what can and should be done to make things better.

Winning the Race represents John McWhorter's third installment on race and culture in America that will cause readers to look at these crucial issues in fresh new ways.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Karen Batres on March 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
John McWhorter is neither a conservative nor someone concerned with political correctness. He is attempting to make sense of what he sees, and in doing so, he dares to ask questions about blacks, whites, and race relations. Even more daringly, he attempts to answer some of these questions.

You don't have to agree with him to benefit from reading the book, because he will at least force the intelligent reader to define his own position and muster his evidence. What should be obvious to most thinking people is that there is something amiss in the usual social or political explanations that try to explain the continuing state of disadvantage under which so many blacks labor. The difference is that McWhorter states that blacks must take charge of their own story, and he does so from a very definite stance: he finds that mainstream values such as education, work, and intellectual achievement are worthy goals. His claim is that these values have been deep-sixed by many blacks, in favor especially of a victim mentality and a rejection of the very tools (education and intellectual achievement) that would enable people to participate fully in the nation's life.

In short, his message states that only blacks can take charge of their future, change the tone of the master narrative that defines their lives, and this can be done only if people own their stories--the whole story, not just the part that lies within the responsibility of others.

For those who would like a very opposite viewpoint, also well worth the read, try Robert Jensen's "The Heart of Whiteness".
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