Race Experts: How Racial Etiquette, Sensitivity Training, and New Age Therapy Hijacked the Civil Rights Revolution by Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Race Experts: How Racial Etiquette, Sensitivity Training, and New Age Therapy Hijacked the Civil Rights Revolution

Race Experts: How Racial Etiquette, Sensitivity Training, and New Age Therapy Hijacked the Civil Rights Revolution

by Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn
     
 

Controversial and strikingly original, Race Experts looks at how we capsized racial progress in the quest for self-esteem.Race Experts uncovers the hidden trajectory and terms of our thinking about race relations since the 1960s. Since segregation's dismantling, intense anxiety has surrounded interracial encounters, and a movement has arisen to engineer social

Overview

Controversial and strikingly original, Race Experts looks at how we capsized racial progress in the quest for self-esteem.Race Experts uncovers the hidden trajectory and terms of our thinking about race relations since the 1960s. Since segregation's dismantling, intense anxiety has surrounded interracial encounters, and a movement has arisen to engineer social relations through the specification of elaborate codes of conduct. Diversity training in business, multicultural education in schools, and cross-cultural psychotherapy have created a world of prescriptions. Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn carefully analyzes the teachings of these self-appointed "experts" and offers a bold and searching analysis of the origins of their ideas in the human potential movement and the radical milieu of the 1960s. Casting race primarily as an issue of etiquette or therapy, rather than of justice or equality, has had dire consequences for American life, diverting attention from the deeper problems of poverty, violence, and continued inequality and discrimination. In this sobering analysis, Race Experts illuminates how far away we are from the issues that deserve our attention.

Editorial Reviews

Eugene D. Genovese
“In clear, hard-hitting English, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn presents a well-reasoned and well-balanced analysis that exposes an insidious racket.”
Michael Meyers
“[A]n essential primer, replete with eye-opening horror tales of political correctness.”
Jean Bethke Elshtain
“[A]n unflinching look at the elaborated codes that govern racial exchanges and relations.”
William E. Leuchtenburg
Lasch-Quinn skillfully guides the reader through the minefields of multicultural excesses.
David Noble
Insightful and troubling.
William Julius Wilson
[This] thought-provoking book brilliantly critiques the industry of the race advocates who tend to exaggerate the importance of racial differences.
Diane Ravitch
[A]n important book, which should be read by every corporate leader, every educator, and every parent.
Publishers Weekly
"One of our best-kept secrets and one of our greatest tragedies" is the undermining of the civil rights movement's universalism and moral truths by diversity theorists, who aim to "liberate whites from their alleged racism and blacks from their assumed bondage of low self-esteem," declares Syracuse University historian Lasch-Quinn. By attributing racial tensions to psychological factors, people like Price M. Cobbs and William H. Grier, coauthors of Black Rage (1968) who "believed that slavery created a set of interracial dynamics that led to a particular pathological mentality in slaves" persisting through generations into the 1960s drew attention away from bigger complexities of justice and inequality, she writes. The "rise of the therapeutic" in the form of encounter groups and sensitivity training created milieus in which psychological disorders are traced to all-pervasive white racism, Lasch-Quinn argues, rather than to social injustices that could be righted through political activism. In her view, such attitudes appear even in recent books like Beverly Tatum's "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" and Other Conversations about Race. Lasch-Quinn faults diversity trainers in latter-day workplaces for relying on broad stereotypes about groups She believes that children's multicultural "self-esteem literature" can affirm children (The Black Snowman) without resorting to "boosterism" (Nappy Hair). Despite many convincing examples, Lasch-Quinn ignores recent books that could complicate her thesis, such as Ellis Cose's The Rage of a Privileged Class. And while she notes that diversity experts frame a world in which social faux pas are deemed racism, she couldbetter acknowledge the persistence of white privilege. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lasch-Quinn (History/Syracuse Univ.) contends that the civil-rights movement has been hurt by its advocacy of diversity training, multicultural education, and other therapeutic programs that have failed to tackle the intractable problems of poverty and violence. The author maintains that the movement, as represented by Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, appealed to the better angels of the American psyche. That movement, however, while once based "on a powerful set of moral and political premises," has failed to achieve its goal of a "democratic nation able to transcended racial and other cleavages; a revived civic culture; and a truly humane social order." The later generation of racial theorists, who assumed control of the movement in the years following King's assassination, came out of an academic culture and were preoccupied with questions of individual growth, emotional health, and personal gratification (rather than political change based on law and morality). They confused rather than clarified discussion of race. Lasch-Quinn contends that the terms of the debate changed when the civil-rights coalition collapsed in the early 1970s, and she sees the development of the new approach as a response to powerful changes in both popular and academic culture. The vast expansion of psychotherapy in the late 20th century led to the adoption by activists of such therapy-based remedies as the Encounter movement and the T-Group (a racial identity theory that envisioned a separate "black psychology"). There was also the influence of New Age beliefs in "empowerment," as well as the rise of "diversity training" (which has become a fixture in nearly 65 percent of US businesses) and "multiculturaleducation" (with its emphasis on self-esteem). She concludes that the civil-rights movement has blundered by casting "racial oppression in terms of incorrect attitudes or estranged emotions," thereby confusing the very points of contention and actually bringing on a resurgence of racism. An original and impressive presentation that does much to illuminate the current racial situation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393048735
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
10/17/2001
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

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Meet the Author

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn is the author of Black Neighbors (winner of the Berkshire Prize), professor of history at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, and a frequent contributor to The New Republic.

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