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Losing the Race:
For the past two decades, an academic cottage industry has developed to analyze--and some would say overemphasize--the social and educational problems of African Americans. Such writers as Dinesh D'Souza, Shelby Steele, Armstrong Williams, and Ken Hamblin have all contributed in this area; now add to that list John McWhorter, a Berkeley linguistics professor and the author of Word on the Street, an examination of Ebonics and Black English. The basic idea he presents in this occasionally insightful if flawed book is that African Americans are not advancing socially as a result of victimology, separatism, and anti-intellectualism.
According to the author, victimology "has become a keystone of cultural blackness to treat victimhood not as a problem to be solved but as an identity to be nurtured," while "separatism encourages black Americans to conceive of black people as an unofficial sovereign entity, within which the rules other Americans are expected to follow are suspended out of a belief that our victimhood renders us morally exempt from them." Anti-intellectualism is a belief that "school is a 'white' endeavor." McWhorter suggests that only blacks embrace such opinions, placing most of the blame on them while underemphasizing the institutional racism that facilitates such views. Needless to say, McWhorter has no love for the likes of Al Sharpton, Hazel Carby, June Jordan, or Patricia Williams and their ilk. His chapter on Ebonics, his specialty, is the most nuanced, though certainly not the final word on the matter. And though some readers will be turned off by his use of tired anti-affirmative-action, right-wing clichés, anyone interested in the education of African Americans in the post civil rights era will find Losing the Race a worthy read. --Eugene Holley Jr. [via]