THE DARDEN DILEMMA by Ellis Cose

THE DARDEN DILEMMA

Twelve Black Writers on Justice, Race, and Conflicting Loyalties
edited by

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Another volume inspired by The Case That Would Not End, which only fitfully addresses its subject: the dilemma that African-Americans face when they must use the authority and responsibility they have obtained in a white-dominated system against members of their own race. A few of the pieces are interesting, though nothing here is likely to change anyone's mind. Cose, a Newsweek contributing editor who has written perceptively on race and other social issues (Color-Blind, 1997, etc.), artfully compares Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden and defense counsel Johnny Cochran respectively to Joe Frazier, the black heavyweight champ who was acceptable to whites, and Muhammad Ali, who became a black idol by symbolically outfighting and outwitting white America (before time and success made Ali a white idol, too). Stanley Crouch portrays Darden as a whiner who did a lousy job on what should not have been a difficult case. Former prosecutor Paul Butler reprises his controversial view that black jurors should sometimes ignore the letter of the law, since the system is fatally biased against black defendants. Clarence Page notes that Darden became a ``double outsider, cast out by outcasts,'' when he tried to convict Simpson. Anita Hill thoughtfully and persuasively analyzes the particular dilemmas faced by black women when black men are subjected to the criminal justice system; she focuses on the example of Felicia Moon, who recanted an accusation that her football-star husband, Warren, had assaulted her. The best is saved for last, with Roger Wilkins's eloquent reminder of the historic importance--and possibility--of successful blacks' efforts ``to tell the truth for people who cannot speak for themselves because of the damage that continues to be done to them.'' Unfortunately, most of these essays pay little attention to the book's theme, and several read like annual reports on the state of race relations in America.

Pub Date: March 12th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-095227-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997




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