The Strength and Betrayal of Black America
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 A strong but limited argument that the moral center that enabled African-Americans to survive slavery and segregation will serve just as well through the perils of inner-city drugs, poverty, and joblessness. Keyes, a black conservative radio talk-show host, paints the history of African-Americans--from slavery through Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, and the present--as an inherently American battle for liberty, justice, and equality. The problem is that he doesn't go much deeper than this. Each chapter begins with a thumbnail history lesson and segues into a superficial discussion of current hot topics (e.g., welfare, black-on-black violence, Jesse Jackson, Clarence Thomas). Each chapter ends with a verse from a traditional gospel song--the same songs, one presumes, that salved the wounded spirit of blacks throughout the years. When Keyes focuses on religion as a subject, he is at his strongest, forcefully arguing that many African-American leaders have wrongly blamed the black church for being too passive. Keyes points out that while the influence of the church, once the foundation of the African-American community, has declined, no other social structure has emerged to fill the void. His conservatism, however, tends to blur his observations. He talks about the racism of Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, and launches into an anti- choice diatribe about abortion being a black genocide--a theory that not only lacks credibility but also ignores the free will of the thousands of African-American women who choose abortion (in fact, the unique problems of African-American women are hardly explored at all). Urging African-Americans to be ``masters of the dream,'' Keyes repeatedly celebrates a history of triumph over adversity and implies that if African-Americans would only accentuate the positive, their lives would be better. There's nothing wrong with reclaiming black history. But what's needed now is a vision for the future. Keyes provides none.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1995
ISBN: 0-688-09599-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994