©1993 Cornel West; (P)1994 by The Audio Partners Publishing Corp.
"As moving as any of the sermons of the Rev. Martin Luther King, as profound as W.E.B. DuBois�" (Washington Post Book World)
"Few Americans speak about race with [his] clarity, humanity, and intellectual rigor." (Senator Bill Bradley)
The audio book was fabulous. I learned from the author himself. Hearing him helped me understand what I was reading and kept me engrossed the entire time. It is a wonderful book. The sexuality chapter of the book has me a bit perplexed, I might think of it as a bit narrow minded. I don't see fear as a motivator for black and white families. You fall in love and you have children...sometimes race isn't an issue until the honeymoon is over. All in all it was a very insightful book and I really enjoyed it.
I have friends on both sides of the aisle who, given Mr. West's even-handed criticism -- though you certainly get the sense he's more solidly behind his 'Liberal Structuralists' than his 'Conservative Behaviorists' -- could enjoy with minimized feelings of affront, his honest and trenchant analysis of problems we still deal with every day, particularly what he calls the 'nihilistic threat to black America,' a thread which wends through all of his essays.
Nihilism, for Cornell West: "the lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and most important, lovelessness. The frightening result is a numbing detachment from others and a destructive disposition toward the world. Life without meaning, hope and love breeds a cold-hearted, mean-spirited outlook that destroys both the individual and others." In line with the Structuralists, pathological behavior, he says, didn't create, but results from the response of people "bereft of resources in confronting the workings of US capitalist society."
Though long references to Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, for instance, (I read this 2012) are at worst a historical footnote not evoking the same passion they might have when this was originally published, they are also, at best, indicative of types of psychological entanglements we deal with over and over in America, and West does a fantastic job of - after, understandably, a few remarks regarding the people themselves - laying bare the psychological underpinnings of such absurd and important American hijinks.
If, for instance, you are already a fan of the thought of W.E.B. DuBois and Ralph Ellison, then I dare say you'll love Cornell West -- who, by the way, reads his own work here in a pleasantly cadent baritone that only adds to the enjoyment (my one fine-tuning - and I'm glad Audible makes it available -- was to up the 'narrator speed' to 1.25x).
I was anxious to read this book after seeing Mr. West discuss a number of current events. He is very eloquent and intelligent speaker. I expected positive, passionate writing that explored the intricacies of race relations in America and throughout the world.
I found ?Race Matters? it to be very negative, unfulfilling piece. Mr. West spends hours identifying the shortcomings of individuals from various economic, racial, intellectual, religious, and geographical backgrounds. The book could have been an important work if Mr. West would have expounded on the positive contributions of past and current political and historic figures.
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