Friday, July 31, 2009

Book of the Month, August

Between Barack and A Hard Place

Tim Wise City Lights. 2009

E184.A1W57 2009

Washburn University professor Tim Wise decries the myth that Obama's election has ameliorated all racial tension in this nation. His chief arguments are that

  • there will always be exceptional people within any group, those with access to "good" education, etc. The presence of these people and their accomplishments says nothing about all members of this particular segment of society

  • the fact that people admit to favoring or accepting Obama because he has "transcended" race or is a "different" sort of Black man demonstrates the persistence of prejudice and stigmas

  • empirical evidence in areas of housing, health care, education and others points to continued discrimination against African-Americans

While much of the book advances an argument that most would accept out of hand, that institutional racism still exists, Wise, when discussing the effects of and dynamics concerning Obama's presidency specifically, advances a welcome critique of much conventional wisdom. He writes, "white folks still hold the power. White folks still get to call the tune...The fact that there are some folks of color who can play the tune...hardly alters the dynamic between those who call it and those who are forced to do the dance."

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