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Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
In this sequel to his 2000 bestseller, Losing the Race, McWhorter exhorts blacks to leave their "anti-whitey theatrics" behind and acknowledge the new racial realities of America. What began as civil rights activism in the late 1960s, he argues, has devolved into empty gestures that leave blacks "defined by defiance" and unwilling to face their problems with innovative responses. The flight of industrial jobs and middle-class blacks from the inner city and the spread of drugs should all have been dealt with head-on, he writes, but instead a debilitating rejectionist attitude took hold. McWhorter vigorously claims that, while blacks weren't well off before the '60s, black Indianapolis in 1915 wasn't "New Jack Indy," and blacks managed to get by without welfare. Yet welfare ended urban blacks' self-reliance and "taught poor blacks to extend the new oppositional mood from hairstyles and rhetoric into a lifestyle separated from mainstream American culture." Blacks grew to think of studying hard as "acting white," and a destructive sense of "therapeutic alienation" that ignores personal responsibility permeated black society, from school and hip-hop culture to leadership and politics. Accessible, if at times long-winded and repetitive, McWhorter's provocative, tough-love message is both grounded in history and forward-looking. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
McWhorter, author of Losing the Race (2000), returns to expand on the theme that the problem with black America is black centered. He attributes the current crisis in black America to that point in the mid- to late-1960s when the countercultural forces opposed to the war merged with a black-as-perpetual-victim perspective, creating a sense of entitlement that has undermined notions of personal responsibility. To make his point, McWhorter strikes at progressive critiques about the causes of the black underclass, from Douglas S. Massey's American Apartheid and its focus on hypersegregation to Wilson Julius Wilson's Truly Disadvantaged and its emphasis on job loss and withdrawal of the middle class from the inner city. McWhorter dismisses these claims as insignificant, if not outright false. The theme--the Left is wrong and the Rright is right--is his direction, if not objective. Although readers with strong opinions on the subject may not be moved by McWhorter's work, his arguments are worthy reading for more open minds on the Left, Right, and in between. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The only warning is to be prepared to reach for your Webster's Dictionary. There are plenty of big words--but you can expect that from a linguist professor and an academic.
Interestingly, Dr. McWhorter makes plain that alienation is not necessarily an exclusively race-based concept as the works of ex-radical David Horowitz make abundantly clear.(2) Yet, one need only contrast Ida Hakim's CURE(Caucasians United For Reparations and Emancipation) with Star Parker's CURE(Coalition On Urban Renewal and Education) to better appreciate the influence of white-leftist alienation and guilt, run amuck, into the present.
To Dr. McWhorter's use of an evolutionary-based concept such as meme as well as his use of social science-based concepts such as skeuomorphy and path dependence, this reviewer would respectfully add a politically-based concept of "Nietzschean ressentiment"(3) to also help explain the effects of a post-60's zeitgeist upon the black community; why a cultural sea change in which seeking after of an "indignation for its own sake" has become infectious; and why "perpetuating of indignation regardless of reality or common sense" has become the dominate leitmotif of black leftist thought to this day. More succinctly, this ressentiment finds expression in yet another theatrical metanarrative by which members of the political Left utilize "master morality" and "slave morality" to encourage the "fetishizing of the evils of the White Man" and the fetishizing of the sins of the West.(4)
As Dr. McWhorter placed a proper emphasis upon anecdotal experiences which have validated the concept of a "meme of therapeutic alienation", this reviewer would also encourage readers to just visit the Internet community at "Blackvoices", to listen to "UpFront With Jesse Jackson"(The Word Network) and/or just tune into "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" to have an opportunity to become well acquainted and versed with this peculiar meme of theatrical gestures; without a doubt, gestures characterized by an alienated, liturgically political psychology which serves as a "balm for insecurities" while "assuaging survivor's guilt"(5); and in terms of therapeutic alienation, this reviewer can't help but note that perhaps the "acting white" phenomena may have a Freudian analog of sorts: that of "reaction formation".
In that spirit, this reviewer will give a very brief personal overview of an anecdotal instance of the meme of therapeutic alienation with a resonance that is rooted in black spiritual authenticity(6). The example is that of Dr. K. C. Price's, "Race, Religion, and Racism" Series, dating back to 1999 thru 2001 in which racism was discussed for approximately 17 months.(7) During the series which was aired from Los Angeles, California, I participated in a virtual discussion forum addressing the many lectures given; in particular, I developed a thread entitled, "The Role of Victimology: A Liberal Synecdoche?", in which I interjected "black conservative" philosophy regarding race into the forum; referring to authors like Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Alan Keyes, etc. and adding political insights from David Horowitz and Dinesh D'Souza. I also interjected black liberal perspectives from authors like Ellis Cose(The Rage of a Privileged Class) and Patricia Williams. The forum responses, without much surprise, rejected the conservative voice with only a few exceptions.
At this point, this reviewer needs to make clear that I have much respect for Dr. Price as a spiritual leader within the black community--that's why I became involved in the virtual forum--and so my critique is solely directed toward the analysis and "solution"(8) he gave during the series; in hindsight, his "solution" was clearly mired in a "meme of therapeutic alienation".
Because a post-marxist like theme also prevailed at the time, this reviewer found it very important to interject "black conservative voices", in particular, into the discussion forum as Dr. Price mostly led a series which essentially used the spirit of the 60's Kerner Report to address racism in general as well as a particular incident of racism involving a fellow pastor and friend regarding interracial dating/marriage; basically, he repeatedly emphasized the need for whites to "fix it", as he so often put it, as it was whites who "started it". This response(s) clearly reflects what Dr. McWhorter has discussed in terms of a "racism in the air" belief which has led many to believe in the need for a Second Civil Rights Revolution, the need for an upending of the playing field and the need for complete elimination of residual racism in order for racial healing to take place.
The series had a great deal of historically beneficial information, but in the end, even after much emphasis upon Dr. Price having spent three years in preparation of the series, basically only a politically left of center formulaic came to characterize his racial "solution": recognition of blacks + reparations to blacks = reconciliation between blacks and whites; interestingly and very respectfully, after reading Dr. McWhorter's discussion of hip-hop, the fact that Dr. Price's son(K. Price, Jr.) has more recently spoken of hip-hop as the language of a younger, Joshua-interracial-generation becomes more clear; that a "Hip-Hop" service is given and scheduled every fifth(5th) Sunday now also becomes more clear.
Lastly, as Dr. McWhorter has also stated, therapeutic alienation is nonetheless slowly losing its cultural grip. Suprisingly, during this year's "State of the Black Union" message(9), a forum hosted by Tavis Smiley, a genuine effort had been made by him to include four black republicans; and while only one black republican participated, this reviewer hopes that Dr. McWhorter, Dr. Steele, Star Parker, Debra Dickerson and others would consider becoming participants in the 2007 forum as this would help to counter the effects of the "law of group polarization" peculiar to this Leftist townhall meeting.(10)
'Sides, it'd be off da' hook. :-)
C-Span Anecdotal Update, 04/29/06: After Dr. McWhorter's discussion at AEI, the two African American responses given during the question and answer session characteristically sought to diminish the impact of black cultural zeitgist, choosing instead to focus on class dynamics and a blurring of structural-cultural effects in spite of sociological data presented to the contrary. Thus, these responses reflect both therapeutic alienation and new black double consciousness so eloquently discussed in McWhorter's analyses.
(1) "Losing the Race" & "Authentically Black"
(2) "Politics of Bad Faith", "Radical Son", and "Destructive Generation"
(3) "Explaining PostModernism: Skepticism and Socialism From Rousseau to Foulcault", p. 193-201, by Stephen Hicks
(4) "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" by Thomas Sowell, Chapter 6, History versus Visions
(5) "Winning The Race", p.190
(6) "Winning The Race", p. 7, 173, 335; "Authentically Black"
(7) "The Race, Religion, and Racism" Series has been published in audio, video and DVD formats along with a three volume book series. Somewhat strategically, Dr. Price appears to have authenticated his "blackness" first before extending a critique of the Nation of Islam.
(8) "Winning The Race", p. 309
(9) "Winning The Race", p. 381
(10) "The ProFessors" by David Horowitz, pp. xxxiii-xxxiv