TO THOSE TRYING TO BE “AUTHENTICALLY BLACK” – RE: THE RECENT CRITICISMS OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AND MICHELLE OBAMA’S COMMENCEMENT SPEECHES !

The recent rather spirited division and debate in the Black Community regarding what was said by President Obama and Michelle in their commencement addresses brought to mind the following publication in which it was stated:

 

“I dedicate this book to the over one thousand African Americans who have given me their support for my public writings and statements on race since the publication of “Losing the Race” in the fall of 2000.  The letters, e-mails, phone calls, reviews and public encounters, from black business people, teachers, schoolchildren, undergraduates, police officers, public officials, working people, authors, actors, mothers, fathers, seniors, and even prisoners, I have been confirmed in my opinion that there is a black Silent Majority in America, committed to real progress but too seldom heard from.  We Will Rise, folks.  For that matter, we already have.”

” … This book collects various pieces I have written in the wake of the publication of “Losing the Race:  Self-Sabotage in Black America.”  That book has often been misunderstood as a statement about education.  Understandably so, as since I am a college professor, many of the demonstrtion cases I chose were from the educational arena (the “acting white” syndrome mong black students, Affirmative Action, Ebonics).  However, my actual goal in “Losint he Race” was to explore general currents in racial ideology tht are predictable, given black history in this country, but which have become more harmful than helpful.  The educational issues my life has brought me close to usefully illustrate these phenomena.  But if I happened to be a criminologist, I would have written a similar book drawing from sentencing issues and racial profiling: if I were a businessman I would have concentrated on the corporate world, small business development, and Affirmative Action in hiring and contracting.  All of which is to say that my interest is in the general fact that almost four decades after the Civil Rights Act, African Americans remain the country’s “race apart,” an eternal problem case.  Many facets of this problem did not happen to fit the specific argumentational tractory that I built “Losing the Race” upon.  I have had the opportunity to address many of these other aspects in print.  “Authentically Black” gathers a sample of these pieces between two covers, with the first two essays written especially for this book.  I am not one for long introductions.  This book will stand on its meat, the pieces that follow.  It is up to the reader what general conclusions he or she draws from them.  As a summary statement, I will offer only the following, which I hope the reader will concur with after finishing the book, despite inevitable disagreements with specifics.

“On the topic of blacks in America, among thining people over the past few decades common consensus has drifted away from common sense.  By this I do not mean just my common sense, but everyone’s.  The left tells us that black people’s job is to insist that short of ideal conditions, only the occasional shooting star among us can do much better than show up.  We are taught that as good people we must pretend to believe that unequal outcomes are always due to unequal opportunity, that it is impossible that culture internal ideologies can hobble a group from taking advantage of pathways to success.  This ideology is taught in universities, assumed on many newspaper editorial pages, and preached by all too many of those anointed as black “leaders.”  In fact, we are too often told that this is less ideology than truth, and that it is only those who question it who have “an ideology.”  Yet I firmly believe in this supposed “truth.”  Whites have learned that they are best off pretending to, on the pain of being tarred as “racists” in public.  More importantly, as I will argue in the first chapter, even most blacks no longer believe in this purported “Common Consensus” (if they ever did) despite all evidence to the contrary.  Certainly there is a social contingent of blackleftists who will insist on professional victimhood to their graves.  Their prevalence in the academy and among black leaders of a certain age gives the misleading impression that this is the “black way” of thinking.  But it isn’t.  As they say, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.  A people on the rise with the world open to them cannot be convinced forever that their watchcry must be “I cannot surmount obstacles.”  This is clear to any sane human being, and as such, in private, most Black Americans operate according to  the same “Common Sense that whites espouse behind closed doors on “the race problem.”  Most Americans black and white know that life is not perfect for most blacks, but hardly to the extent that we could not make our way up to the  last few steps to the mountaintop by pulling in our stomachs and forging ahead.  And most Americans black and white know that as often as not these days, what is hold blacks back is more the impression otherwise than “white supremacy ”  Yet it is always “in the air” that the Common Consensus is somehow a larger truth.  This idea hangs so thick, and is argued with such blaring indignation that blacks end up wangling a way of splitting the difference between this and Common Sense.  It has become a kind of fragile mental poise while keeping Common Sense close to the heart, one wields the Common Consensus as a skin, as it were–in how one views one’s race as a group, in ticklish conversations with whites when “the black thing” comes up, in who one votes for hell or high water.  This variation on the “double consciousness”  that W.E.B. Du Bois wrote of is the subject of Chapter One, grounds all of the pieces in this book, and the source ot the book’s title:  “Authentically Black:  Essays for the Black Silent Majority.”  

“Since the late 1960s, blacks have been taught that presenting ourselves and our people as victims when whites are watching is the essence of being “authentically black.”

Critical acclaim for “Authentically Black”:

“Mr McWhorter has delivered some powerfully compelling criticism of many White liberals, Black leaders, and Black intellectuals.”  —  Alex B Kellogg, BET.com

“This collection of nine articles … extends the arguments McWhorter made in “Losing the Race”:  African Americans must give up the seductive drug of holding whites accountable for every perceived problem in the community, avoid welfare and demand opportunities for self-realization, not charity and handouts; fight their unacknowledged sense that at the end of the day, black people are inferior to whites … an internalization of the contempt that the dominant class once held for us. — Kirkus Review

“McWhorter takes on a lot of hot button issues and with each one he makes his case without flinching.  What makes his book of value is his forthright analysis of the self-defeating attitudes and behavior that continue to hobble a great many blacks.  His inside knowledge and candor makes this a necessary book to add to the growing library of works that deal with this particular aspect of America’s enduring entanglement with race.  —  Elizabeth Wright, The American Conservative

“For the good of us all, one hopes that the sensible views McWhorter promotes will prevail.  McWhorter is right.”  —  Preston Jones, Christianity Today

Publisher:  “McWhorter is one of the most original and provocative thinkers on theissue of race in America today.  In “Authentically Black” McWhorter argues that although African Americans stress hard work and initiative in private, they have assumed the mantle of victimhood in the eyes of the public, and have thereby created a distorted meaning of what it is to be “authentically black.”  McWhorter takes on this mentality and its debilitating implications–in topics ranging from rap music to the reparations movement, from the portrayal of African Americans on television to racial profiling–injecting new ideas and a fresh approach into the nationwide debate on race.  “Authentically Black” is a powerful and important book that will inform and influence the opinions of Americans across all racial and political spectra.”

“The knowledge, wisdom, and sophisticated insight of John McWhorter stand out in especially sharp contrast with the tired old cant and demagoguery which have become the norm in discussions of race in America.”  —  Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

“John McWhorter is associate professor of linguistis of the University of California at Berkeley, a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor to City Journal and The New Republic.  He is the author of seven books, including the bestseller Losing the Race, The Power of Babel, and Doing Our Own Thing.”

 

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About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
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