The End of Blackness

The End of Blackness

5.0 2
by Debra J. Dickerson

“This book will prove and promote the idea that the concept of ‘blackness,’ as it has come to be understood, is rapidly losing its ability to describe, let alone predict or manipulate, the political and social behavior of African Americans.” Such is the explosive enterprise of what is sure to be one of the most
controversial books of


“This book will prove and promote the idea that the concept of ‘blackness,’ as it has come to be understood, is rapidly losing its ability to describe, let alone predict or manipulate, the political and social behavior of African Americans.” Such is the explosive enterprise of what is sure to be one of the most
controversial books of recent times.

How has the notion of “blackness” bamboozled African Americans into an unhealthy obsession with white America? What are the deleterious consequences of this? How has “blackness” diminished the sovereignty of African Americans as rational and moral beings? How has white America exploited the concept to sublimate its rage toward and contempt for black America? Is American racism an intractable malaise, and who gets to decide when the past is over?

In this unstinting, keen, and brutally funny manifesto, Debra Dickerson critiques “race” as a bankrupt scientific and social construct, exposing the insidious, manipulative racial myths and prejudices still held by American blacks and whites. She examines much statistical rubbish that passes for sociological fact, the purposeful corruption of American history, and the resulting social ills and pathologies bedeviling both the black and white communities.

She bravely argues that, whether or not African Americans still have a moral claim against this country, they must now be fiercely self-reliant, ignoring the hackneyed presuppositions and expectations of whites and other blacks still stuck in tired and fruitless ways of thinking.

As the New York Times remarked about her highly acclaimed memoir, AnAmerican Story, “it is a startling thing to hear an American speak as frankly and un-self-servingly about race as Dickerson does.”

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Author of the prize-winning memoir An American Story, which told of her admirable rise from a family of former sharecroppers to Harvard Law School, Dickerson sets out to criticize contemporary approaches to race, whether they originate on the political left or right, and in doing so exhibits a praiseworthy independence of mind. Questioning everyone from the "Black Politburo" -- the civil rights establishment, which sets the tone of black politics -- to white apologists who still downplay the ravages of slavery, she argues that the civil rights movement remains incomplete as long as blacks continue to define themselves by the terms of blackness they have inherited. — Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn
The New York Times
… a dazzling diatribe that reveals Ms. Dickerson as a Molotov-cocktail polemicist. Drawing tacitly upon the racial self-doubt she experienced within her family and even reacting to the racial favoritism that she says paved her way to Harvard Law School, she has distilled a lifetime's worth of eye-opening realizations into a furious, bitterly funny indictment. Even readers whom she enrages -- and there will be many -- cannot ignore the range and ferocity of her attack. — Janet Maslin
Publishers Weekly
In order to make progress possible, blacks have to give up on the past-that's the core argument of this inflammatory, cogently written book. Dickerson, a lawyer and journalist, continues the examination of black self-reliance that she introduced in her first book, An American Story. This time, however, she leaves her own experiences out of it and focuses on breaking down racial myths, social concepts and prejudices with the help of statistics and citations by such figures as W.E.B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin. Racism, according to the author, "is compounded by black cooperation and by fruitless black jousts with intransigence, while winnable victories are ignored because they do not center on whites and because they are unglamorous." Dismissing Afrocentrism as "self-eliminative and isolationist," Dickerson encourages blacks to focus on their own talents and ignore the expectations of whites and other blacks. She fearlessly condemns the black community for defending the actions of O.J. Simpson and Marion Barry, and for scorning "Uncle Tom" figures like Julian Abele, a black architect who designed Duke University in the 1920s despite its whites-only policy preventing him from ever visiting the campus. "The great architect never got to see his creation, but those for whom he left it in trust-knowledge seekers of all races and nationalities-do. Thank God he was an Uncle Tom," she writes. Few of the book's assertions are new or groundbreaking, but Dickerson updates and expands the arguments by using references to current television sitcoms, mass-mailed Internet jokes that reinforce stereotypes and the emergence of hip-hop artists as individualistic thinkers to back up her statements. Addressing an incendiary issue in a straightforward and un-self-serving manner, this polemic is likely to provoke thoughtful discussion. (Jan. 13) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this controversial critique on race, Dickerson (An American Story) exposes racial myths and biases held by both blacks and whites today while critiquing the purposeful corruption of American history and the nonsense that passes for sociology. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A full-bore assault on white racism on one hand and black orthodoxies on the other, one that finds the author well-prepared for the inevitable backlash. At which point, journalist Dickerson (An American Story, 2000) says, "the next time a 'new Afrikan' steps up to me at one of my readings . . . and questions my Negritude for my interracial marriage or my insufficient (to them) engagement with the black community, they better come loaded for bear." Black America is too diverse to be stereotyped, she suggests, and far too many blacks are enjoying material and social advantages that are historically supposed to be beyond them to believe that the old laws of racism have as much force as they used to-illustrating, in one of her rare instances of cheerleading, that "no one can stop the American, black or blind, who is determined to succeed." Which is not to say that racism is not a reality-it is, and the author offers a repellent catalogue of ongoing sins by white against black. But, she adds, blacks need to stop relying on racism as a means for explaining failure, to stop presuming that "the moral high ground [can] be bequeathed like a hereditary title or a trust fund." Instead, Dickerson argues, the black community should look toward the future: "It is time to chart black life after the movement." By way of example, she points to the successes of hip-hop entrepreneurs such as Russell Simmons and Chuck D, who "are exerting powerful, politicized, and well-financed leadership among their peers, all with little recourse to, or much respect for, the civil rights establishment." One sign of that leadership, she writes, is the emergence of "hip-hop politicians" running against "movement blacks" inNew York and New Jersey. Of any politician, whether old-school or new-, she counsels, the questions need be asked, "Would she know what to do with herself if white racism ended tomorrow? How invested in continued black failure has he become?" Arguments that are crisply delivered and guaranteed to irritate vast constituencies. Agent: Sarah Chalfant/Wylie Agency

Product Details

Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.17(d)

Meet the Author

Debra J. Dickerson was educated at the University of Maryland, St. Mary’s University, and Harvard Law School. She has been both a senior editor and a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report, and her work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, The New Republic, Slate, The Village Voice, and Essence. She lives in Albany, New York.

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The End of Blackness 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is one that I can relate to and understand. She believes that Black people can think differently without aligning oneself with the Liberal or Conservative ideology that exploits and negatively sterotype Black people. Keep up the good work Ms.Dickerson and don't apologize for standing up for what is right.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am reading the book right now and some of the author's views and opinion are enlightening! In my opinion, she isn't denouncing the African/American/Black/Negro race. I think she's just pointing out that there has to be an adjusting of thinking on being a person of color in America-how African Americans/Blacks/Moorish Americans/Negroes need to accept responsibility for his/her condition, conditions in their communites and stop being defined by societie's definition of 'blackness'. However, I would love to know what her husband thinks of the book and her commentary about 'non' people of color.