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 A wry statement of reluctant resignation to America's prevailing cultural realities, by Glazer, a Harvard sociologist and education/social-policy expert. In such books as Ethnic Dilemmas (1983) and The Limits of Social Policy (1988) Glazer has consistently argued that the antidiscrimination and voting-rights legislation of 1964 and '65 alone--without measures like affirmative action in employment or busing for school desegregation--would support black economic and social mobility and lead to a more equal society. However, in these eight short essays on public-school curriculum reform and American society, he explores why African-Americans live and go to school more separate than ever from other Americans. It's a situation Glazer so deplores that it prompts him to see his own previous attitudes as complacent. While he still avows his faith in democracy's capacity for justice, he cannot deny its failure so far to assimilate people of African descent to the same extent that it has absorbed European immigrants of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and even those increasingly arriving from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. This is certainly not what his previous studies of ethnicity (coauthored with Daniel P. Moynihan) had led him to expect. One of the results of the inability of the dominant society to absorb African-Americans, Glazer suggests, is the rise of multiculturalism, spurred by black anger at traditions that have rejected them. Multiculturalism, he asserts, is now an unavoidable element of American life, and one that we must come to grips with. This book is remarkable for the plainspoken grace of its concessions, and Glazer also maintains an eloquent honesty about his reservations regarding government-imposed remedies, and about his unaccustomed position of being stymied for answers. One of the culture wars' quietly dedicated establishmentarian soldiers has laid down his rhetorical arms to prepare for a more civil and salutary engagement.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1997
ISBN: 0-674-94851-3
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Harvard Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997