by Ellis Cose ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 19, 1997
An exceptionally intelligent examination of race as a determining element in American life. Cose has achieved esteem and success as an author (A Nation of Strangers, 1992; A Man's World, 1995; etc.) and as a contributing editor to Newsweek. He is also a black man living in late-20th-century America, who has experienced overt and subtle discrimination throughout his life. Combining these two perspectives, Cose writes about the influence of color on self-esteem, on opportunities for advancement, on one's peers, bosses, and subordinates, and on such related matters as the location in which one chooses, or is compelled, to live. In what is in essence an extended but remarkably fair-minded editorial, Cose examines arguments that America has achieved color blindness, and that race-based affirmative action programs are no longer necessary and actually do more harm than good by stigmatizing their beneficiaries. His conclusion, supported by research data and richly illustrated with anecdotal material, is that, despite significant improvements, race remains a crucial determinant in how one does in America. ""While it is certainly true,"" Cose writes, ""that Americans, taken as a group, are no longer a racist people, it is not true that race no longer matters in America."" Arguing that blacks, especially, remain at a great disadvantage in our society, Cose defends affirmative action as ""an often justifiable, limited and severely flawed method to deal with . . . problems that require a much better solution."" He concludes with a 12-point plan for achieving that better solution--for example, by boosting the educational achievements of young blacks, so that they don't need special help from affirmative action to get into college, or ending the segregation that consigns ""so many Americans at birth to communities in which they are written off even before their character is being shaped."" A positive contribution of the highest order to America's long struggle against its racial demons.
Pub Date: Jan. 19, 1997
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996
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