Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era / Edition 1

Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era / Edition 1

by Houston A. Baker
     
 

ISBN-10: 0231139640

ISBN-13: 9780231139649

Pub. Date: 02/25/2008

Publisher: Perseus (for Columbia University Press)

Houston A. Baker Jr. condemns those black intellectuals who, he believes, have turned their backs on the tradition of racial activism in America. These individuals choose personal gain over the interests of the black majority, whether they are espousing neoconservative positions that distort the contours of contemporary social and political dynamics or abandoning

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Overview

Houston A. Baker Jr. condemns those black intellectuals who, he believes, have turned their backs on the tradition of racial activism in America. These individuals choose personal gain over the interests of the black majority, whether they are espousing neoconservative positions that distort the contours of contemporary social and political dynamics or abandoning race as an important issue in the study of American literature and culture. Most important, they do a disservice to the legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and others who have fought for black rights.

In the literature, speeches, and academic and public behavior of some black intellectuals in the past quarter century, Baker identifies a "hungry generation" eager for power, respect, and money. Baker critiques his own impoverished childhood in the "Little Africa" section of Louisville, Kentucky, to understand the shaping of this new public figure. He also revisits classical sites of African American literary and historical criticism and critique. Baker devotes chapters to the writing and thought of such black academic superstars as Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Hoover Institution senior fellow Shelby Steele; Yale law professor Stephen Carter; and Manhattan Institute fellow John McWhorter. His provocative investigation into their disingenuous posturing exposes what Baker deems a tragic betrayal of King's legacy.

Baker concludes with a discussion of American myth and the role of the U.S. prison-industrial complex in the "disappearing" of blacks. Baker claims King would have criticized these black intellectuals for not persistently raising their voices against a private prison system that incarcerates so many men and women of color. To remedy this situation, Baker urges black intellectuals to forge both sacred and secular connections with local communities and rededicate themselves to social responsibility. As he sees it, the mission of the black intellectual today is not to do great things but to do specific, racially based work that is in the interest of the black majority.

Columbia University Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231139649
Publisher:
Perseus (for Columbia University Press)
Publication date:
02/25/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
268
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction: Little Africa 1

Jail: Southern Detention to Global Liberation 17

Friends Like These: Race and Neoconscrvatism 45

After Civil Rights: The Rise of Black Public Intellectuals 71

Have Mask, Will Travel: Centrists from the Ivy League 99

A Capital Fellow from Hoover: Shelby Steele 127

Reflections of a First Amendment Trickster: Stephen Carter 157

Man Without Connection: John McWhorter 173

American Myth: Illusions of Liberty and Justice for All 197

Prison: Colored Bodies, Private Profit 203

Conclusion: What Then Must We Do? 213

Notes 219

References 227

Index 233

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