Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority

McWhorter makes excellent points; we just wish he'd stop there

By John McWhorter Gotham Books (2003), $25In a perfect world, we'd know that we're being judged "not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character." Still, how far are we from living Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream? Isn't it just a matter of African-Americans realizing that we are no longer merely a race of oppressed people, but are also vibrant, active partners in the American system? It would seem that John McWhorter, author of the controversial book Losing the Race, believes so -- and thinks the message was so nice he had to write it twice.

In fact, Authentically Black, McWhorter's second book, is more an addendum to Losing the Race than a repetition. If it weren't for the author's constant -- and annoying -- references to his original book (he even rebuts his reviews), it might have been possible to consider this a great work on its own. I did enjoy McWhorter's interesting interpretations of subjects like racial profiling and "the double consciousness of African-Americans," but he often gets too cocky. After successfully making a point, he then pushes it too far.

Although many will find McWhorter's views agitating, few can argue that he doesn't make excellent points; in some cases, like the "victimology practices" of black politicians, he hits the nail on the head. One could easily find oneself torn between McWhorter's obvious agenda and one's own experiences. Still, for sheer brain food, both of his books are must-reads.

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