SHOWING MY COLOR: Impolite Arguments on Race and Identity by Clarence Page

SHOWING MY COLOR: Impolite Arguments on Race and Identity

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It's hard to see what's ""impolite"" about Page's buppie neoliberalism, other than a wish that his views were somehow controversial. In fact, this high-profile member of the punditry keeps pretty close to the view of his class, which is not the middle (as he suggests) but the professional-managerial elite he schmoozes with on TV and in newspaper op-ed pages. Relying on a predicable collage of current news items, popular culture artifacts, and personal anecdotes, Page surveys the ""hot-button"" issues of the day and usually prescribes some combination of psychotherapeutic and social science clich‚s. The only interesting part of his personal history is the tragic story of his first wife, Leanita McClain, whose suicide after her fast-track success as a black professional serves as a cautionary tale for ghetto-born blacks uneasy in the professional world. Page identifies the unique struggles of the new black middle class and also locates many current problems in the competing cultures of the street versus straight life. Minister Farrakhan's genius, such as it is, is to mask these conventional values ""in the trappings of the racial outlaw."" Page's ""valentine"" to black women seems more an effort to protect his gender-front than a genuine examination of the crossroads of race and gender. And his discussion of the ""special relationship"" between blacks and Jews rehashes what's been said time and again. Dismissive of what he calls ""black conservatives"" such as Shelby Steele, Page on the other hand admires ""conservative blacks,"" such as activist Robert Woodson, for his message of self-help and uplift. Page's neo-liberal bromides (""Mend it, don't end it"") surface in essays on affirmative action and other government interventions. With his final plea for ""individual humanity,"" Page proves a far better trend-watcher than trend-setter, which is just the role he fills so well in the hit-or-miss venues of opinion columns and TV chat shows.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1996
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins