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Showing 1-10 of 50 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 74 reviews
on December 15, 2010
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Eugene Robinson has written an insightful analysis of how the "Black community" in American has splintered into 4 different strata based on economic, educational, cultural and ethnic differences. Where once the chains of slavery and segregation bound Blacks together, most of those chains have been broken or at least weakened, after decades of integration and broader opportunity. Robinson's book is an easy read, but it provides food for thought. Is there still a "Black Experience" the way we once used the term? I've seen many of the changes in my own family. I'm an African American who was very race conscious in my youth. I'm married to an African who is a naturalized citizen. We are both college educated professionals. Our college educated adult children view race and culture in a very different way. They are aware of racial differences but not defined by them. I highly recommend this book as the basis for a discussion about the good, and maybe not so good, results of fulfilling the dream of a color-blind society. We aren't there yet, but the times they are definitely a-changing. But have we lost something of our identity along the way?
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on June 17, 2015
A terrific overview, briefly and eloquently stated! Very informative and broad in its goal of giving insight into a complicated function of civilization.
The similarities of how disparate tribes meet, mingle, and join toward common goals: Life, Liberty, Innovation, and all elements of the pursuit of Happiness (Harmony). This effort challenges numeric inclusion in America. It asks clear questions and plots a map of this adopted theme in America's blueprint for life, as it applies to Americans of African Decent. Thank you for this addition to the study. melanie ferguson
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on June 8, 2017
Excellent. As a retired person who worked in the criminal justice system, it explained what the hell is happening to my (African-American) community. It is a "must read" for African-American men who work in the systems.
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on May 15, 2013
Eugene Robinson has studied our misconceptions about African American demographics and is concerned about the flawed public policy that may result from them. Robinson classifies African Americans into four groups. His book describes each of these groups and explores the implications of this view of what was once a single, unified community.

The MAINSTREAM middle-class majority has a "full ownership stake" in American society. Many live in suburban neighborhoods, attend college, and hold professional and managerial jobs. Parents watch their children mixing unselfconsciously with whites and are proud of how much has changed. But this also "...sets up a conflict between two strongly held Mainstream values--on one side an absolute belief in Dr. King's dream that all be judged solely by the content of their character, on the other a fierce determination that African American history and culture be not only revered but also perpetuated."

The ABANDONED is a large, ghetto-bound minority with "...less hope of escaping poverty and dysfunction than at any time since Reconstruction's crushing end." They face numerous problems including unemployment, crime, failing schools, and family breakdown. Before civil rights reforms freed the Mainstream to move elsewhere, the American-African community was geographically and socially integrated. Doctors and lawyers lived next to janitors and the unemployed. Poorer members of this community benefitted from assistance, inspiration, and role models. Now the Abandoned are left to themselves, unseen and unwanted. Racial segregation has been replaced by economic segregation.

The TRANSCENDENT are an elite minority with money, power, and influence. This group includes Oprah, Obama, and other celebrities in the highest circles. Many Trancenents pursue social, political, and business projects designed to benefit other African-Americans. Many such efforts benefit the Mainstream far more than the Abandoned, falling short of their desired impact. Many of the older members of this group struggled against stronger barriers to success than remain today. Some find it difficult to step away from their "outsider" roles of the past.

EMERGENTS fall into one of two groups. Recently-arrived immigrants and people of mixed-race heritage. Immigrants tend to be highly educated and follow a path of self-improvement similar to white and Asian immigrants. Family loyalty, a strong work ethic, and less personal experience with America's race conflicts all enhance their chances for success. Emergents of mixed race experience resentment from the other groups and uncertainty about how they fit in to any of the groups they can claim as their own.

Robinson describes patterns of conflict between these groups. "The Mainstream tend to doubt the authenticity of the Emergent, but they're usually too polite, or too politically correct, to say so out loud. The Abandoned accuse the Emergent--the immigrant segment, at least--of moving into Abandoned neighborhoods and using the locals as mere stepping-stones. The immigrant Emergent, with their intact families and long-range mind-set, ridicule the Abandoned for being their own worst enemies. The Mainstream bemoan the plight of the Abandoned--but express their deep concern from a distance. The Transcendent, to steal the old line about Boston society, speak only to God; they are idolized by the Mainstream and the Emergent for the obstacles they have overcome, and by the Abandoned for the shiny things they own. Mainstream, Emergent, and Transcendent all lock their car doors when they drive through an Abandoned neighborhood. They think the Abandoned don't hear the disrespectful thunk of the locks; they're wrong."

The author closes with several strong recommendations. Uplifting the Abandoned should become a national priority. He applauds President Obama's agenda to target all of the poor, knowing that this will help African Americans the most because there are so many among the poor. But he calls for additional efforts that target the Abandoned. He cautions the Trancendents and the Mainstream that they must give up programs for all African Americans that dilute resources desperately needed by the Abandoned. Robinson also cautions against measuring progress based on statistics that summarize the jobs and resources of all four groups without distinction. Such measures underrepresent the achievements of the Mainstream and mask the needs of the Abandoned.

This is an excellent and informative book which I highly recommend. It offers needed perspective on the status of African Americans and avoids the oversimplification of placing them in a single demographic category.
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on July 8, 2014
The author spends more time glorifying black success in the Washington, D.C. area then he does delving into the differences among and between the various groups he describes.
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on December 27, 2014
Robinson has done a masterful job of shedding light on a troubling phenomenon in America: the staggering intransigence of African Americans living below the poverty line. He doesn't just offer analysis. He also offers real solutions. They may be overly reliant on the enlightened altruism of the black middle and upper classes, but they at least give us something to start the discussion. Bravo, Mr. Robinson!
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on June 4, 2016
Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America is the PERFECT book for our times. Anyone who cares about race relations in our country should read it. You will be enriched.
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on November 7, 2010
I bought this book expecting it to be a discussion about the differences between african american and black immigrants living in the USA. But the book did much more than that it provided me with details of black american history that I was not aware of and that are fundamental to understand the difficult times that african american had to endure in order to be where they are today. The mixture of history and current events gave me a comprehensive perspective of the different black american communities and it helped me to better understand the situation of the class labeled as "the abandoned" in the book. Furthermore this book motivated me to volunteer part of my time to an organization that provides financial support and mentors to first generation black college students to ensure that they complete their BS degree.
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on July 18, 2013
This book captured the emergence of a different black struggle in the U.S today and how it's not a cohesive message or struggle. For me it articulated a the difference in the community and wide variety of voices it has. But alas, the abandoned are truly that.
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on March 9, 2013
Robinson has written an engaging book describing his views of current African-American cultures in the US. He backs up his statements with statistics and anecdotes , and his arguments are well-founded.
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