“A book this country desperately needs, one with genuine healing potential.” —New York Times Book Review
From the author of The Rage of a Privileged Class, a provocative, in-depth analysis of the state of race in America; a work that not only explores the racial transformation of this nation, but offers a creative and viable ten-step blueprint for the development of a race-neutral society
Is a truly race-neutral society possible? Can the United States wipe the slate clean and surmount the racism of its past? Or is color blindness just another name for denial? In this penetrating and provocative book, Ellis Cose probes the depths of the American mind and exposes the contradictions, fears, hopes and illusions embedded in our complicated perceptions of race. Cose trains his practiced eye on the murky waters of race in America and looks at the acute differences, even hostility, in our perceptions of race exposed by the O. J. Simpson trial, not to mention the controversial content of The Bell Curve. Looking beyond the platitudes and pronouncements that tend to distort reality rather than illuminate it, Cose offers a visionary analysis of the steps we must take if we are serious about finding a true resolution to the thorny problem of race in America.
In accessible if not always rigorous style, Cose (The Rage of a Privileged Class) takes on some current controversies in a time when "racial definitions are shifting." Surveying the debate over a "mixed-race" identity, he notes that it can be used to enforce racial hierarchy but also may recognize multiple heritages; he concludes that it is more important to divorce racial classification from discrimination. Responding to The Bell Curve controversy, he finds that communal study groups boost black college achievement and suggests that other educational support would ease inequality. Cose considers affirmative action "an often justifiable, limited and seriously flawed method." He sensibly proposes a more nuanced college admission practice that would take race into account but not treat it as an automatic signifier of deprivation; also, he acknowledges that workplace affirmative action makes virtually no one happy. He offers a skeptical look at the "colorblind" ideal, noting that in Latin America such practice requires silence about racial stratification. Cose concludes with 10 proposals, some more practical than others, for example: "end American apartheid"; presume minority success, not failure; search for solutions, not blame; increase interracial cooperation. While the author is clearly familiar with the recent literature on racial controversy, his book seems a bit detached, unleavened by discussions of popular culture or analysis of the place of race in our political dialogues. $75,000 ad/promo; author tour.