Berkeley linguistics professor John McWhorter, born at the dawn of the post-Civil Rights era, spent years trying to make sense of this question. Now he dares to say the unsayable: racism's ugliest legacy is the disease of defeatism that has infected black America. Losing the Race explores the three main components of this cultural virus: the cults of victimology, separatism, and antiintellectualism that are making blacks their own worst enemies in the struggle for success.
More angry than Stephen Carter, more pragmatic and compassionate than Shelby Steele, more forward-looking than Stanley Crouch, McWhorter represents an original and provocative point of view. With Losing the Race, a bold new voice rises among black intellectuals.
Are African-Americans using past racial injustices as an excuse for not working to take advantage of contemporary opportunities? McWhorter, a linguistics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks he has the answers to this question and others--and he points the finger directly at the black community. Starting with the premise that white racism is no longer the threat it once was, McWhorter singles out "the cult of victimology" and the glorification of white racism as a major cause for several social crises afflicting African-Americans. Offering little that has not been said previously by conservatives like Pat Buchanan and Shelby Steele, McWhorter uses a cookie-cutter approach to explain away recent race pressure points such as the arson directed against black churches, the high proportion of black inmates in America's prisons, the practice of racial profiling and police brutality. In each case, he finds fault with the African-American community's interpretation of these situations, accusing African-Americans of hypersensitivity to racial bias and a reluctance to relinquish the past. Victimology, as well as separatism, in his words, "gives failure, lack of effort and criminality a tacit stamp of approval." Most disturbing, his suggestion that a cultural trait drives the low scholastic performance of black youth borders on the views of those who consider heredity the cause of blacks' poor performance on standardized tests. Like many of the new black conservatives, McWhorter spends much time going after liberal columnists and social critics, attacking both their intent and message. Even his closing segment--"How Can We Save the African-American Race?"--sounds more like a well-worn campaign speech than a call to initiate a dialogue on race in the African-American community and the nation. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|