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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Covenant to Read "The Covenant", March 26, 2006
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This review is from: The Covenant with Black America (Paperback)
"The Covenant with Black America" should be required reading for all Americans. Whether one agrees with the diagnosis and prescriptions is not the point. The point is to increase dialogue, understanding, and mutual progress.

"The Covenant" includes chapters on healthcare, public education, justice system, policing, housing, politics, rural roots, jobs, environment, and the digital divide. Each chapter outlines the issues from the author's perspective, provides a bio of the author (if this bio were at the front of each chapter, it would be helpful), collates statistics on the topic (a more diverse collation of statistics could increase the impact of the book), shares what the community can do, explains what individuals can do, tells what works now, and describes what leaders and politicians can do (again, further balance here would be beneficial).

"The Covenant" is the brainchild of Tavis Smiley who offers it as a roadmap toward future hope. He brings together a laudable team of experts in their field, though one might wish for greater diversity in political, social, and economic perspectives.

Particularly helpful are the sections on what works now. It's always easy to identify a problem, it's somewhat easy to propose a solution, but it's always helpful to provide examples of currently workable and working models. Smiley follows the "best practices" model of illustrating how to move into the future effectively by describing those who are already successfully doing so.

A chapter on spiritual and religious values, given their historical and current emphasis in the African American community, also would add to the books value. Or, integrating the religious community more fully into the essence of each chapter's discussion would be another way to advance the message of the book.

Not everyone from every political persuasion will agree with the suggested covenants--obviously. However, as the back cover explains, "The Covenant with Black American" is moving beyond talking about "our pain" to talking about "our plan." This is certainly in line with the historic African American focus on moving beyond being a victim to being a victor. Those who may have another socio-economic-political perspective on dealing with issues vital to African Americans (and to all Americans), rather than dismissing a book like this, should engage it; should write their own Covenant with the same specificity of focus, though perhaps with distinctive answers.

The front page quote says it well. "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time" (Terry Tempest Williams). "The Covenant" is a forward-looking book. Well aware of the past, grounded in the needs of the present, it details a process that can shape a renewed future for African Americans and all Americans-so we can become one America. As stated at the outset of this review and throughout, one does not need to agree with the diagnosis and prescriptions to understand the importance of the issue, to engage in the ongoing dialogue, and to propose their own amended Covenant.

Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of the "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," "Soul Physicians," and "Spiritual Friends."
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