There's been a thread about race and racism going on from this post, covering similar ground and topics as when I taught the subject back in grad school. And here's an exchange I knew I'd had but couldn't quite remember the title to that I'd already talked about in-depth here on this blog back in 2005, when I wrote a detailed response to my post "Bin Laden Didn't Blow Up the Projects."
In those conversations about race, I referred to these well-reviewed and respected books in the field:
- "Black Wealth, White Wealth," written by Oliver and Thomas Shapiro - "The Declining Significance of Race" (before actually reading the text, or at least about it, please refrain from harping on the title as me "contradicting" my arguments) or any of his subsequent monographs, written by William Julius Wilson, a black Harvard sociologist who is anything but what you would call "liberal."
- "The Truly Disadvantaged," also by Wilson.
- "Racial Formation in the United States," written by Michael Omi
One I've added to the shelf since then is "The Bridge Over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics," in which Wilson, taking a surprising turn to the need for coalition politics outside of the economic arguments he was known for working in, talks about the strategic alliances that need to be socially built and how race itself has to be differently imagined.
Point of all this is that yes, black academics, intellectuals, and social figures have been wrestling with the difficult problem of black disillusionment and victimology, thank you very much.
And again, Dave Chapelle deals with the complexity of this from both sides, which is why his comedy is smart and connects with ALL people, not just blacks (it wasn't just black people buying the DVD's that made it the #1 seller in history), because it isn't pure victimology, nor is it shameless beating up on black folks, a la Bill Cosby (although most black people KNOW what the man is saying -- it's just the sudden rancor and public shaming that bothers people).His comedy connects because it's smart and very much in touch with what people in general are thinking about, as well as what's on the minds of BLACK folks. There's more common ground there than anyone thought. But sticking one's face in the sand and making race the Dark Ring of Power, which must be defeated-but-not-touched-or-mentioned is just plain stupid and unrealistic.