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By The Color Of Our Skin Hardcover – January 1, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Professors Leonard Steinhorn and Barbara Diggs-Brown take an analytical look at American race relations, pointing out the difference between integration mythology and racial reality. While public facilities have been desegregated and black icons like Michael Jordan, Colin Powell, and Oprah Winfrey enjoy unprecedented popularity, there are still racial barriers left for blacks and whites to deal with. The authors examine the seductive imagery of integration, consider why blacks and whites view race differently, and explore the possibilities of translating some integration success stories into the broader fabric of American society. "We have no illusions that racial honesty will ever integrate our families, lives, schools, or communities," the authors write. "But we do hope that a more racially honest America can build bridges and challenge the stereotypes and images that too often guide our decisions and actions." --Eugene Holley Jr.

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The authors, professors of communication, one black, the other white, have written a provocative and timely critique of race relations in America. They focus on both the image and reality of racial integration. The U.S. has created a grand illusion of racial comity and imminent integration. The authors contend that despite the achievements of political and civil rights movements during the 1960s, racial patterns in housing, education, and culture have made real integration all but unattainable. Desegregation is not the same thing as integration. The urban-suburban divide undercuts the goal of integration, the authors assert. The media, television in particular, have produced a "virtual integration," which many whites accept, if not prefer to the real thing. To achieve real integration requires hard work, risk, social engineering, sacrifice, etc. It also requires a more honest assessment of race relations, one that allows for peaceful coexistence, admitting the disadvantaged status of blacks and the need for remedies such as affirmative action. Vernon Ford

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525943595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525943594
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,216,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a distinctive book about race and, in particular, the failures of integration in the United States. American University communications professors Leonard Steinhorn and Barbara Diggs-Brown document and discuss black-white relations, drawing upon social science scholarship, the media and popular culture, and their own personal experiences. The authors talk about integration and segregation not only in schools and the workplace, but also in worship, leisure, and recreational pursuits. In doing so, they provide a well-rounded but perhaps even more dismal assessment (than others) of the failures of formal, legal efforts to achieve both equality and integration.
Drawing upon their varied professional experiences, they argue that the media has helped to foster an illusion of integration. In particular, they point to the typically diverse casting of on-air television news reporters at the national and local level that suggest an interpersonal racial ease only rarely achieved. The more common view, they argue, is a society where black and white people may work together [if mostly on unequal terms], but then pass each other like ships in the night on the way home to neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly white or black. Their analysis is especially significant for large northeastern and midwestern cities, where black-white relations mostly define the race landscape.
In the end, this book challenges scholars and citizens alike to reflect honestly on our values, our residential choices, and personal practices, not just on rhetoric. Steinhorn and Diggs-Brown show us that a commitment to integration requires hard work and difficult choices, both at the personal and community levels, in ways that national rhetoric about race misses.
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Format: Hardcover
The subject of race provokes more deceit, denial and dishonesty than any other issue in American life. The authors of this book explore the reality-versus-image dichotomy more analytically than any other work I've read. And they're right on the money with respect to affirmative action, which was developed as a counter-weight to racism, and those critics who declare that it gives rise to white resentment. This position is akin to using an experimental treatment for cancer, and then declaring that the treatment CAUSED the cancer. It is well settled that there was white resentment long before the words "affirmative" and "action" were ever used in the same sentence. This book should be required reading at every college in America.
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Format: Hardcover
The truth is not always pretty or palatable, but as the Bible says, it "shall set you free." That is the basic premise, and promise, of "By the Color of Our Skin: the Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race," brilliantly written, argued and researched by Leonard Steinhorn and Barbara Diggs-Brown.
The 1990s have not exactly been famine years for books on race, and some of them, quite frankly, have an "attitude" and an ideological ax to grind. "By the Color of Our Skin," in contrast, gives us a stark and uncompromisingly fair and honest picture of reality, moving the reader -- with statistics, facts, and cultural and historical analysis -- across America's vast sociological landscape, to the conclusion that for all of the Colin Powells, Oprah Winfreys, Michael Jordans, and Bill Cosbys, we are surely calcifying into two separate Americas -- one black, one white.
Politicians, the media and the entertainment industries play and perpetuate a tune of integration-on-its-way-to-being-achieved, and they have "charmed" the American people into thinking that things are ultimately moving in the right direction, that all that is needed now is time. But it is precisely time that is working against us, and unless we -- to borrow a medical phrase -- take some "heroic measures," we will become two countries sharing one land.
Admittedly, the authors are not particularly optimistic that Americans will take such "heroic measures." The resistance to affirmative action makes that clear. Indeed, all the signs suggest that Americans have neither the will nor the inclination to make the necessary sacrifices.
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Format: Hardcover
Its not very often that a book about race does not have a hidden agenda. Most are thinly disguised propaganda opposed or supporting a particular issue. Many blame the oppressed or the oppressor. This book gets to the heart of the matter (race/integration) and does not let go. I, for one, have been hopeful regarding race relations in this country and still am. No doubt we as a nation have come a long way. However when ever I begin to believe that racism and racial prejudice is on the decline, I am harshly reminded. O.J., C.C.C., Militia are to name a few. The authors expose the lack of candidness we have when discussing race and how (from JFK to Clinton) politicians have used race and raced based rhetoric to their advantage. Alas, it is easier to stike fear and anger than to inspire. The book left me with a certain sadness, perhaps the feeling of being reminded the truth of a situation when in denial. While this book is important to both white and black americans. It is black americans who should take note; Self empowerment and self sufficiency becomes even more vitally important. Congress, the courts and the "liberal minded" white person often feel that they have done enough. Whether as a moral imparitive or for basic survival, black people must be honest with themselves. Most whites do not want real integration for reasons described in the book. Most blacks must realize for that reason, advancing in this nation in many ways must depend on blacks themselves. Thank you Mr. Steinhorn and Ms. Diggs-Brown for an excellent book!
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