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Race Matters Paperback – March 29, 1994
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Pat Royal, Crossland High School, Camp Springs, MD
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
If Dr. West is correct, and the subjugation of the African-American underclass is caused by Corporate White America, then what is to be done? Taxes and subsidies focused on social equality are out of fashion with a majority of White Americans because the question, "who benefits?" is rarely addressed in full. Unfortunately, for most, an acceptable answer is lacking in this particular analysis, but it should be obvious to anyone CHOOSING to read RACE MATTERS, that positive externalities exist on both sides of the racial divide.
As a white American, reading RACE MATTERS is like asking a stranger to identify all the perceived shortcomings and failures embodied in your character. However, walking away and assuming a defensive posture, without ever asking "What can I do to change you perceptions?", is tantamount to failure in itself.
Dr. West's book is an excellent answer to the question most white Americans want answered..."What did I do to you?"
And although I may not agree with every solution or angle of criticism proposed by Dr. West, it most certainly initiates the discourse. This is where the benefit of his book is realized...in the discourse...and in the development of a common social ground.
According to West, discussions about the plight of African Americans tend to be divided into two camps, the "liberal structuralists" and the "conservative behaviorists". West then adds: "Unfortunately, these two camps have nearly suffocated the debate that should be taking place about the prospects for black America." (p. 18.) Debate certainly seems to be gasping for air in some of the Amazon reviews of Race Matters.
In chapter 2, West outlines what he calls the pitfalls of "racial reasoning." This chapter alone is worth the price of the book because of its cogent treatment of the underlying racial reasoning on both sides of the Clarence Thomas debate. It is quite obvious that several of the reviews posted on Amazon have failed to heed West's call to "replace racial reasoning with moral reasoning." (p. 38.)
To my surprise, the ad hominem attacks against West in some of the reviews are reminiscent of the 50s and 60s-Communist, Marxist, get a haircut, rich guy, etc. Theses are the same emotionally based attacks that appear in the referenced Solon article by David Horowitz.
The strong feelings raised by West's discussion seem also to have caused certain reviewers to overlook some of what West actually says. For example, West does mention Hispanics (p. 12, 44), he does criticize both Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X (p.Read more ›
At the beginning of the book, the immediate comparison was to the oppression of the Palestinians. But as I progressed, there was a shift to the situation of the Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. I was amazed at how easily West's words can be applied to the situation of the Ethiopians in Israel. I quoted a few insights from the book to Ethiopian friends, and there was a common feeling as if West wrote the book about them - and not about the American race matters. Of course the difficult chapter dealing with black Antisemitism was interesting as an American phenomena, without direct implications to the Ethiopian situation (here I could go back to the Palestinian issue).
In the end, West's book proved to be a bold attack on racism and racist institutions, and did provide some interesting directions for change. I must disagree with those that were disappointed by West's "failure" to bring up coherent solutions. A book such as this should not be expected to provide a detailed solution layout, but instead give food for thought, and point at the directions which have not been taken yet.
This the book does. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the issue of race and politics.
For the reasons listed below, I am very disappointed with this book; the space allotted to reviews hardly allows me to describe fully all of the ways in which West errs, but let me list a few. West appears to use three types of "evidence" to present his case:
1. The first type of "evidence" is the frequent use of unsupported statements. There are no citations, footnotes, or reading list in this book. This lack of intellectual accountability allows West the luxury of making statements that would not pass muster in a decent high school term paper. For example, West states that Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill, and other conservative Republicans supported policies that resulted in "the unleashing of unbridled capitalist market forces on a level never witnessed in the United States before that have devastated black working and poor communities." This sweeping statement is clearly debatable: on what basis is he saying that black and poor communities were "devastated"? Were the market forces truly "never witnessed before"? What of the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the post-World War II boom? If blacks really did not participate in the economy of the 1980's (and West offers no evidence that they did not), one must ask: why not? Recently released statistics show that blacks have clearly benefited from the economic expansion of the 1990's.
2. The second type of "evidence" used by West is error. He is simply wrong on multiple points of fact.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good read! Cornel West has some definite opinions on many issues that plague our society today....I purchased the book to help me interpret and come to terms with the cultural... Read morePublished 1 month ago by lakeman
As a passenger in a car speeding toward disaster, West gives nervous but intelligent instructions as he tries to grab the steering wheel. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael Holloway
A little dated now (he wrote this in 1994) but still touches on a lot of good points. It is more a book to get you to think than to offer answers. Read morePublished 4 months ago by R.K. Gold