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Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves…
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Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul

by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

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Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a current events book and analysis on the state of "race" primarily from the 2008 financial crisis up until the aftermath of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson. His critical analysis is spot on, however, his solutions are somewhat lacking. This was an easy read and I believe a great introduction to how policies and belief systems hinder an equal society. ( )
  caalynch | Nov 4, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is an excellent, thoughtful, well-researched look at some of the most important questions about the United States. I learned a lot from this book, and while Glaude didn't have to win me over -- I came to the book already on the same page about most of the major points -- his arguments are cogent and well-supported enough that I would give this book to a less-sympathetic family member and expect it might move them politically. ( )
  heavyleg | Oct 5, 2017 |
In the tradition of Cornel West's Race Matters, Eddie Glaude, Jr's Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul offers an incisive critique of contemporary American society and the ways it perpetuates injustice toward the African American community. Glaude is the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies and chair of the Department of African American Studies.


Weaving his own story and experience throughout his analysis, Glaude begins by recounting his time in Ferguson during the non-indictment of Darren Wilson. He describes, also, how the sub-prime lending of the nineties, had a particularly devastating effect on African American people. Gaulde concludes that the violence against the Black community, the lack of economic aide for African Americans, and discriminatory voter identification legislation are evidence of the on-going white supremacy of our country. By this he doesn't mean abject racists in white sheets burning crosses but a value gap where "no matter what our stated principles or how much progress we think we've made, white people are valued more than others in this country, and that fact continues to shape the life chances of million of Americans. The value gap is in our national DNA" (31).

Glaude argues that this value gap is maintained by racial habits of all of us. For example, there is still discrimination against African Americans in the workforce when assumptions are made about an applicants qualifications are made on the basis of race. The exact same resumé with the name LeKeisha on it, or the name Lisa are viewed differently(58). [I worked with a community development organization in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, and had African American friends who struggled to find jobs based on being from that zip code]. But even if there was no active discrimination against African Americans they still would not be afforded the same opportunity. Careers and job opportunities often come through our networks and Black Americans do not move in the same social circles as White Americans. Glaude observes, " Seventy-five percent of white Americans report that their social networks are entirely white" (58). This is one example but American racial habits are pervasive:
We are all shaped by racial habits in some way or another. They are as natural to America as apple pie and fireworks on the Forth of July, and come to us as easily as the words we've learned since we were on our mother's knee. In this sense, racial habits are our inheritance: they contain history of white supremacy that has shaped and continues to shape this country. There are millions of accumulated decisions that make inequality an inextricable part of what it means to be American. If we are to undo them (at least some of them), something dramatic must happen. (64).
Another evidence of white supremacy is the presence of white fear. Glaude shares how he, as a well dressed, educated Princeton professor being seen as a threat by a Princeton collegue's wife in the university parking lot. He shares another tale of discrimination from his son. But his evidence for white fear isn't just anecdotal. He cites news stories, articles, and studies about how white Americans (and even African Americans) view black people as a threat. This is evidenced by the sixty percent of working-class white Americans that "believe discrimination against whites is a worse problem than discrimination against blacks"(87)! Also by the way politicians on both sides of the aisle, including President Obama, invoke the idea of black criminality in their rhetoric(89-90).

Glaude examines the way in which politicians and leaders invoke the civil rights story and the narrative of racial progress as a way to excuse themselves from making systemic changes that promote justice and true democracy. Martin Luther King's legacy is co-opted as an example of equality and shared opportunity and an example of the American dream. However:
It is always a particular version of Dr. King--the King of the March on Washington who dreamed, not the radical King who marched with garbage workers or understood the connection between the evils of poverty, racism and militarism or called attention to the fact of "two Americas." This whitewashed King often gets in the way of frank and fearless discussions of black suffering, because his words , in the hands of far too many, are used to hide racial habits and sustain the value gap. (96)
On this score, Glaude criticizes both republicans and democrats saving some of his ire for Barak Obama's betrayal of Black liberalism (see chapter seven).

While the facts of race relations in this country are pretty grim, Glaude closes his book on a more hopeful note. He calls for 'a revolution of value' which would change how we view government, change how we view black people and change how we view what matters, ultimately, as Americans (184). Government ought to be concerned with the public good and the care for the vulnerable (185-97), African Americans need to be seen and valued ever bit as much as White Americans are (198-202), and we need to subvert the dominant narrative of American exceptionalism:
We have to tell better stories about what truly matters to us. The kind of stories we tell reflect the kind of people--the kind of nation--we aspire to be. Bad stories, like bad habits, typically correlate with bad people. So better stories are needed to change the country. Americans have to challenge directly the idea that we are "the shining city on the hill" or "the Redemeer Nation." We have to release democracy from the burden of American exceptionalism. To do this, we have to tell stories of those who put forward a more expansive conception of American democracy. (203).
One sign of hope that Glaude names comes from his observation of the Black Lives Matter movement. The charismatic civil rights leader is a relic of a bygone era. The new movement "insists on the capacities and responsibilities of everyday ordinary black people and urges them to reach for a higher self even in opportunity deserts. Those deserts are fertile ground to be politically creative" (227).



Glaude's book reads like a manifesto for the Black community: naming the issues that national leaders fail to name, or even address and then providing an alternative vision: honest racial talk, a valuing of Black America and renewal of habits. However, there is a lot to consider here for White Americans as well. Privilege and the value gap enacted and maintained by racial habits, betrays democracy. Glaude's book invites me to self-examination. America is not a post-racial society (whatever that term means). Racial oppression, opportunity deserts and discrimination persists despite what we may believe about ourselves. This is the sort of book that helps us imagine a different reality, but one that requires some big changes. Democracy in Black is well worth reading as it helps us to understand the Black experience and what that says about our national identity. I give this four stars.

Note: I received this book from Crown Publishers through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review. ( )
1 vote Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
Title: Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul
Author: Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
Publisher: Broadway Books
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Four
Review:

"Democracy in Black: How Race Stills Enslaves the American Soul" by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

My Thoughts...

What a read that Dr. Glaude gives the reader some interesting perceptions of 'why the 2008 recession disproportionately' did impact black people and so much more. Yes, this is a book about race. Now, I will say I had to sit back and think about that and as I did I believe I was able to understand some of this author's thought pattern. As he continues on in the read Dr. Glaude talks about the value gap which to me is very true but yes there are many people who feel that are more valued than black people. Why is that one may say? Well, if one really thinks about it and just how some things have gone on in today's world...well I will say the writing is definitely there on the wall for anyone to see. I liked how this author Dr. Glaude didn't pull any punches on stated it like it is..with letting all know that 'anyone is fair game for criticism, not just the conservatives'...which as one knows how our President Obama received some of the worst of it all and even though when he left office he still gets it. Now, why is that?

Now, I will say some of Dr. Glaude's ideas I was not in agreement with but again I could also understand why he might want to take that route...'electoral black-out?' I did feel by reading "Democracy in Black"I was able to get some other knowledge that could help me in having a better conversations in the future about our race. I also did find this novel 'interesting, eye opener on several discussions relating to African-Americans racial discrimination' that is so prevalent in the United States of American. The question that I am left with is how will these problems be fixed? We talk and talk but when will one go deep into all the basics of the problems that are presented in the book and be able to move from theory to action? This will have to be well done before anything is truly solved.

So, if you would like to read about the political and economic insights of the lives of African-Americans you may certainly find this novel of great interest. No, it may not be a comfortable read however who ever you are I believe its a good read where it will leave you with thoughts long after the read as you are left to take a good look at the history of this country and see some of the wrongs that have been ignored far too long. ( )
  arlenadean | Apr 4, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An excellent treatise on how racism has historically impacted and continues to impact life in the United States. I have done a lot of reading around this subject and this book still had new information and a fresh perspective for me. My only fear is that half the country doesn't really care to learn about this history and how it affects our country today.
  aarti | Jan 8, 2017 |
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To Cornel West and Langston Glaude
My inspiration to keep fighting until the last breath
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Most of the businesses on West Florissant in Ferguson were boarded up.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804137412, Hardcover)

A powerful polemic on the state of black America that savages the idea of a post-racial society
 
America’s great promise of equality has always rung hollow in the ears of African Americans. But today the situation has grown even more dire. From the murders of black youth by the police, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the disaster visited upon poor and middle-class black families by the Great Recession, it is clear that black America faces an emergency—at the very moment the election of the first black president has prompted many to believe we’ve solved America’s race problem.
 
Democracy in Black is Eddie S. Glaude Jr.'s impassioned response. Part manifesto, part history, part memoir, it argues that we live in a country founded on a “value gap”—with white lives valued more than others—that still distorts our politics today. Whether discussing why all Americans have racial habits that reinforce inequality, why black politics based on the civil-rights era have reached a dead end, or why only remaking democracy from the ground up can bring real change, Glaude crystallizes the untenable position of black America--and offers thoughts on a better way forward. Forceful in ideas and unsettling in its candor, Democracy In Black is a landmark book on race in America, one that promises to spark wide discussion as we move toward the end of our first black presidency.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 08 Sep 2015 18:39:33 -0400)

"A powerful polemic on the state of black America that savages the idea of a post-racial society America's great promise of equality has always rung hollow in the ears of African Americans. But today the situation has grown even more dire. From the murders of black youth by the police, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the disaster visited upon poor and middle-class black families by the Great Recession, it is clear that black America faces an emergency--at the very moment the election of the first black president has prompted many to believe we've solved America's race problem. Democracy in Black is Eddie S. Glaude Jr.'s impassioned response. Part manifesto, part history, part memoir, it argues that we live in a country founded on a "value gap"--with white lives valued more than others--that still distorts our politics today. Whether discussing why all Americans have racial habits that reinforce inequality, why black politics based on the civil-rights era have reached a dead end, or why only remaking democracy from the ground up can bring real change, Glaude crystallizes the untenable position of black America--and offers thoughts on a better way forward. Forceful in ideas and unsettling in its candor, Democracy In Black is a landmark book on race in America, one that promises to spark wide discussion as we move toward the end of our first black presidency"--"A polemic on the state of black America that argues that we don't yet live in a post-racial society"--… (more)

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