Contemplating the current state of race in America.
Since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, there have been countless discussions about the concept of a “post-racial America.” Whether unduly optimistic or simply silly, this assertion had legs even as some of the most aggressive opposition to the new president came in the form of barely cloaked racial animosity. In their new essay collection, Mack (Law/Harvard Univ.; Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer, 2012) and Charles (Law/Duke Univ.), who founded the Duke Center on Law, Race, and Politics, bring together 12 scholars and writers to reflect on the “New Black.” While the contributors take wide-ranging and often contradictory approaches to the issue of race in contemporary America, they all write from the perspective that “the civil rights idea,” the integrationist model expressed in the classical phase of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, “no longer provides an easy way to describe, or address, America’s continuing race problem.” The contributors cover an array of issues, from the infamous arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, which led to the so-called “beer summit” in 2009, to the relevance of politics (including the role of Obama) and law in the world of minorities, to reconsiderations of civil rights history and questions of the failures of a binary black-white view of race relations in the U.S. The contributors, who include Elizabeth Alexander, Lani Guinier, Glenn C. Loury and others, tackle this perpetual issue in thoughtful essays that vary in quality but rarely in the seriousness of their engagement.
Reveals some of the directions that questions of race and racism will take as we approach post-Obama America.