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The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race In America Paperback – September 23, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
From a sociological perspective, Steele employs an ecological system model as a tool to capture his personal experience enabling the reader comprehend his emergence into manhood in a racially biased society. Yes, I admit my description sounds like a bunch of academic hogwash. However, Steele masterfully strips away the academic jargon to create a meaningful book that everyone can grasp without being diverted by theoretical language. His use of a theory as a backdrop provides the reader with a connection - a meaningful experience.
For several decades, sociologists have been attempting to link personality with the social structure in a manner that has some practical and meaningful application. Up to this point, all attempts have been miserable failures. Here lies Sheby Steele's great success. He created this important theoretical linkage hitherto unseen in American social science.
What value does THE CONTENT OF OUR CHARACTER offer us? Steele brilliantly portrays race relations as a connection between the micro and macro human experience. In many ways, Steele succeeded to do what Parsons dreamed about in the 1940's. Steele identifies that racial problems cannot be solved merely by instituting (macro) policy change. He states that everyone has a personal (micro) responsibility to embrace the role of change agent. Most interestingly, his primary focus is directed toward African American individuals. Change yourself and change society simultaneously.
This is one of the most readable books on race relations. I often assign college students (even minority students) to read this book. The book seems to change they way they think. They become more thoughtful and work harder as students. I find the effects of this book quite amazing.
However, here's the rub: Racism can be an excuse to fail, or a reason to improve one's lot to the extent that blacks are empowered to make racism less relevant to their individual and collective destiny. For what Steele is proposing is a return to the proud ethic first elaborated upon by such civil rights pioneers as Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey.
I give this excellent book four stars instead of five for the following reasons: 1). As it was compiled mainly from magazine articles previously written by Steele, it is a bit repetetive, and; 2). Steele draws quite a bit on history of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, but I believe that by tracing many of our societal trends to the turn-of-the-century competing visions of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, this would have been a more well-rounded book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
He is a deep thinker that wrestles this subject from different angles and in...Read more