Shelton addresses the continuing effects of slavery in America and calls for new leadership and new ways of thinking in his debut nonfiction book.
This work discusses the ways in which the United States government, and American society in general, failed to redress the captivity, dehumanization, and indoctrination of black people during the era of slavery. He points out how this resulted in a lingering culture of racism and inequality that can be felt in everything from the glorification of so-called “white” features and lighter skin tones in the black community to the continued failure of the American educational system to truly discuss the horrors of the slave trade. Shelton claims that “African-American” is improper nomenclature for black people today; rather, he believes that they should be referred to, and understand themselves, as “American Slaves”—a uniquely American-made oppressed people. He goes on to argue that freed slaves were never properly recognized by the U.S. government as free, nor were they properly accepted into society as equals, so their descendants are, in effect, still slaves themselves. Shelton calls for the rise of a single leader to guide the “American Slave” community to prosperity and to cease the proliferation of various other groups and leaders working at cross-purposes. He also advocates for the formation of specific support programs for these descendants, whom he urges to form new social and political blocs. Shelton’s work is in equal measure a thoughtful meditation on the lingering effects of slavery and a baffling manifesto. He effectively argues for the need for American society to address the residual effects of a shameful institution—politically, economically, and socially. But he often couples such well-reasoned points with more confusing arguments, such as that slave descendants should ignore their African ancestry entirely, or that “From a moral point of view, slaves should be declared America’s first born in the Constitution.” These ideas are sometimes difficult to parse, and they seem divisive enough to counter Shelton’s apparent goal of bringing slave descendants into a common accord.
An uneven work that addresses pressing problems facing the black community but offers debatable solutions.