Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America

Overview

In his first major book on the state of black America since the New York Times bestseller Losing the Race, John McWhorter argues that a renewed commitment to achievement and integration is the only cure for the crisis in the African-American community.

Winning the Race examines the roots of the serious problems facing black Americans today—poverty, drugs, and high incarceration rates—and contends that none of the commonly accepted reasons can explain the decline of black ...

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Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America

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Overview

In his first major book on the state of black America since the New York Times bestseller Losing the Race, John McWhorter argues that a renewed commitment to achievement and integration is the only cure for the crisis in the African-American community.

Winning the Race examines the roots of the serious problems facing black Americans today—poverty, drugs, and high incarceration rates—and contends that none of the commonly accepted reasons can explain the decline of black communities since the end of segregation in the 1960s. Instead, McWhorter posits that a sense of victimhood and alienation that came to the fore during the civil rights era has persisted to the present day in black culture, even though most blacks today have never experienced the racism of the segregation era.

McWhorter traces the effects of this disempowering conception of black identity, from the validation of living permanently on welfare to gansta rap’s glorification of irresponsibility and violence as a means of “protest.” He discusses particularly specious claims of racism, attacks the destructive posturing of black leaders and the “hip-hop academics,” and laments that a successful black person must be faced with charges of “acting white.” While acknowledging that racism still exists in America today, McWhorter argues that both blacks and whites must move past blaming racism for every challenge blacks face, and outlines the steps necessary for improving the future of black America.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sequel to his 2000 bestseller, Losing the Race, McWhorter exhorts blacks to leave their "anti-whitey theatrics" behind and acknowledge the new racial realities of America. What began as civil rights activism in the late 1960s, he argues, has devolved into empty gestures that leave blacks "defined by defiance" and unwilling to face their problems with innovative responses. The flight of industrial jobs and middle-class blacks from the inner city and the spread of drugs should all have been dealt with head-on, he writes, but instead a debilitating rejectionist attitude took hold. McWhorter vigorously claims that, while blacks weren't well off before the '60s, black Indianapolis in 1915 wasn't "New Jack Indy," and blacks managed to get by without welfare. Yet welfare ended urban blacks' self-reliance and "taught poor blacks to extend the new oppositional mood from hairstyles and rhetoric into a lifestyle separated from mainstream American culture." Blacks grew to think of studying hard as "acting white," and a destructive sense of "therapeutic alienation" that ignores personal responsibility permeated black society, from school and hip-hop culture to leadership and politics. Accessible, if at times long-winded and repetitive, McWhorter's provocative, tough-love message is both grounded in history and forward-looking. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In what is in effect a sequel to his Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, McWhorter (senior fellow, Manhattan Institute; contributing editor, the New Republic) claims that racism is not the most daunting barrier to success for African Americans. He states that the social behaviors attributed to some poor, inner-city blacks are rooted in cultural rather than economic causes. The author's thought-provoking, insightful investigation challenges such highly regarded academic sociologists as William Julius Wilson and Elijah Anderson, by arguing that welfare dependence and inner-city drug use and violence are not caused by a lack of accessible blue-collar jobs and white racism. Instead, McWhorter concludes, these forms of conduct are rooted in a culture of poverty that emerged in the mid-1960s and in what he calls "therapeutic alienation," which entices a minority of African Americans to remain apart from mainstream society. Included here are affirming narratives about the expansion of a vibrant suburban black middle class and about a greatly improved civil rights climate unavailable to African Americans as recently as 30 years ago. This book energizes the continuing dialogue about racism in the United States and is strongly recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/05.]-Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Why do African-Americans continue to suffer, despite the successes of the civil-rights movement?Linguist and conservative pundit McWhorter (Authentically Black, 2003, etc.) recounts that when he was a youngster living in a leafy Philadelphia neighborhood, his mother would sometimes take the long way around to work to pass through the ghetto because "she wanted me to have a sense of how other black people lived and how lucky we were to be middle class." Years later, North Philly is worse off, and so are most other black communities. The reasons are varied: Crack, AIDS and poverty have something to do with it. But more so, McWhorter asserts, do the legacy of the 1960s and the rise of what he calls "therapeutic alienation," which is tantamount to surrendering to expectations of nonperformance. Though his arguments may lend themselves to mischaracterization in the coming debate-and this book is one long provocation to it-McWhorter takes pains not to oversimplify the case. Yet, he insists, his book is "one more in the line of arguments that poor blacks' problems are primarily due to culture rather than economics." Thus, it is a cultural matter that black workers of an earlier era took long bus rides to manufacturing jobs well outside their neighborhoods, whereas their counterparts today do not-never mind that the buses may not run, or that the jobs may not exist. It is a cultural matter that welfare was "the product of a system white leftists created that allowed blacks to realize the worst of human nature, in discouraging individual responsibility"-leftists such as LBJ and Moynihan, one assumes. In the end, dogma wins out, as McWhorter, the anti-Spike Lee, protests that never has a cab notstopped for him and opines that black Republicans "are different from black Democrats only in a spontaneous understanding that resonant catchphrases and buzzwords are not activism."Take that, Jesse. Whatever the merits of his argument, McWhorter is both fluent and fearless-and sure to catch hell.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592401888
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/29/2005
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.42 (d)

Meet the Author

John McWhorter is the author of the bestseller Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, and four other books. He is associate professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor to The City Journal and The New Republic. He has been profiled in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and has appeared on Dateline NBC, Politically Incorrect, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The birth of the inner city : the conventional wisdom 17
Ch. 2 The birth of the inner city, part one : Indianapolis 37
Ch. 3 The birth of the inner city, part two : the saga 73
Ch. 4 Why are you talking about blacks on welfare? 114
Ch. 5 The meme of therapeutic alienation : defined by defiance 153
Ch. 6 What about black middle-class rage? 197
Ch. 7 What about the view from the ivory tower? 228
Ch. 8 Therapeutic alienation meets hitting the books : "acting white" and affirmative action revisited 261
Ch. 9 The "hip-hop revolution" : therapeutic alienation on a rhythm track 315
Ch. 10 Therapeutic alienation as a plan of action? : new black leadership for new Negroes 352
Ch. 11 Conclusion 376
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2006

    Honest and A Must Read

    I found this book to be honest and a book that I think all young Black Americans should read especially! I believe in truth telling and Mr. McWhorter is a truth teller regardless if it is exposing 'our dirty laundry'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2006

    Substantial

    Good book for developing a better understanding and creating solutions to longstanding problems.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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