Quote of the Day: A Question from My Son

 

“Hey dad, dumb question: if you were to recommend a single book discussing race in America, specifically something to counter the current identity politics, what would it be?” – Ben

I’m cheating today. It’s my turn to do a quote of the day, but I am feeling down at the news of Boss Mongo’s death and cannot think of something appropriate. But the show must go on. Moreover, my youngest (who is an adult), Ben, texted me the question quoted above. It is a really good question, and what dad cannot be flattered at being asked for this kind of advice from an adult child?

I have a few thoughts, but I thought it an opportunity to tap into the collective wisdom of the membership. How should I answer? What are your recommendations?

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  1. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I’d think something by Murray would be good. However, a preacher by the name of Voddie Baucham (https://www.voddiebaucham.org) has a recent book called Fault Lines might be a really good contemporary apologetic against CRT.

    I haven’t read it, but I’ve been listening to VB in a lot of different places and he’s really good, very knowledgeable and full of wisdom and sound teaching.

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I’d like to help, but I think the only books I have read that talked about race in America are a bit out of date. They were written by old Two Fathoms. That said, Pudd’n’head Wilson is quite something.

    • #2
  3. Ole Summers Member
    Ole Summers
    @OleSummers

    There are at least four by Thomas Sowell, each of which can stand on its own.

    But I will always consider Frederick Douglass’ “Self-Made Men” speech an American classic of explanation of what a free, independent mind should look like. My children and their children all have a copy. As a coach, there were seasons when I issued a copy to each player in my position group (or in some cases the whole team) and had some quote from it posted in each daily meeting. 

    I pick it from a belief that we first need to give a nod to the human qualities that make us all more complete, productive individuals and see that as a shared ground to build on.

    • #3
  4. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    My mind hasn’t recovered from the sucker punch yesterday, but here is my best shot. First, you must understand the left and critical theory. Once you understand that and that race is just another tool, you will see that one doesn’t need to understand just race, but the whole toolbox.

    Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell. Explains lefties

    The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, Michael Walsh. Explains critical theory. Shows all its manifestations. Was written before “critical race theory” was coined so race isn’t heavily discussed but still explains core principles, especially how the Marxists use culture instead of economic class to take down US and its capitalism.

     

    American Marxism, Mark Levin. Released yesterday. Probably the starting point for people just waking up to CRT and identity politics. Chapt 4, pages 81 – 138, addresses race specifically. Since my copy just arrived yesterday, I have only skimmed this chapter to see if it would be helpful to you.

    • #4
  5. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, by Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman. W.W. Norton, 1989. ISBN: 978-0-393-31218-8.

    Originally published in 1974, this text completely undermines the entire Progressive narrative (i.e., the lies told) about slavery and race in America. It is worth having this text for the Prolog and Chapter One alone, (first 40 pages) but the rest is equally excellent. Fogel is a Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, and Engerman was a professor of Economics at University of Rochester.

    • #5
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Anything by Shelby Steele.

    Especially ‘The Content of our Character’

    • #6
  7. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    A suggestion that is a bit different….the memoirs of the British actress/diarist Fanny Kemble, who married an American in 1834 and lived with him on his Georgia plantation.  She had originally been willing to be open-minded about his positive portrayal of slavery, but what she observed on the plantation…and her husband was far from the worst of the slave owners…caused her to become a strong abolitionist. (The marriage did not last)

    Her memoirs are very long, but brilliantly written.  IIRC, there is a separately-published section focused on plantation life.

    I wrote about Fanny here:

    https://ricochet.com/789514/america-as-seen-by-fanny-kemble/

     

     

     

    • #7
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Okay, okay. I will get back to reading Sowell’s Ethnic America, about the lessons from many waves of immigration to the USA. 

    • #8
  9. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Anything by Shelby Steele.

    Especially ‘The Content of our Character’

    I was going to make this same suggestion.  I learned a lot from that book.  So, I’ll second Dr. B’s suggestion.

    • #9
  10. Ray Gunner Coolidge
    Ray Gunner
    @RayGunner

    Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks & White Liberals will knock the identity politics out of anyone. 

    • #10
  11. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    EHerring (View Comment):

    My mind hasn’t recovered from the sucker punch yesterday, but here is my best shot. First, you must understand the left and critical theory. Once you understand that and that race is just another tool, you will see that one doesn’t need to understand just race, but the whole toolbox.

    Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell. Explains lefties

    The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, Michael Walsh. Explains critical theory. Shows all its manifestations. Was written before “critical race theory” was coined so race isn’t heavily discussed but still explains core principles, especially how the Marxists use culture instead of economic class to take down US and its capitalism.

    American Marxism, Mark Levin. Released yesterday. Probably the starting point for people just waking up to CRT and identity politics. Chapt 4, pages 81 – 138, addresses race specifically. Since my copy just arrived yesterday, I have only skimmed this chapter to see if it would be helpful to you.

    Outside of reading some of Sowell’s opinion pieces published in news papers, I have not read much Sowell.

    “Vision of the Anointed” seems like an excellent starting point. Thank you.

    Your thinking that CRT is more about being an important tool from the toolbox so well designed to bring us into Communism is a very apt observation. I know the idea that “Trump is a racist” kept me from voting for him in 2016, even though by that November, I hated the democrats and their construct of a candidate, Bernie Sanders. I hated Hillary even more.

    It was only after being on this board some 10 months that I realized that  the many hours of news bytes which had informed me of Trump’s racism had not once been backed up by a single spoken remark of his, or a single incident.

     

    • #11
  12. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    “My Grandfather’s Son”, a memoir by Clarence Thomas.

    • #12
  13. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Anything by Shelby Steele.

    Especially ‘The Content of our Character’

    I was going to make this same suggestion. I learned a lot from that book. So, I’ll second Dr. B’s suggestion.

    Completely agree.  I’m not sure there’s a need to go outside the aforementioned Steele and Sowell.

    • #13
  14. Quintus Sertorius Coolidge
    Quintus Sertorius
    @BillGollier

    Ray Gunner (View Comment):

    Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks & White Liberals will knock the identity politics out of anyone.

    This!!!! Actually anything by Thomas Sowell!!!

    • #14
  15. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Anything by Shelby Steele.

    Especially ‘The Content of our Character’

    I was going to make this same suggestion. I learned a lot from that book. So, I’ll second Dr. B’s suggestion.

    Completely agree. I’m not sure there’s a need to go outside the aforementioned Steele and Sowell.

    Actually, people need to understand CT and its “long march through the institutions. ” Otherwise, they might simply believe it really is about justice, fairness, and fighting racism.

    • #15
  16. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Jason Riley’s bio on Thomas Sowell. Easier to read and has all the info he needs.

    • #16
  17. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    “My Grandfather’s Son”, a memoir by Clarence Thomas.

    Excellent book.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    “My Grandfather’s Son”, a memoir by Clarence Thomas.

    I’ve sometimes asked for the “one book to read” recommendation myself, but I’ve learned never to trust what I learn from one book.  I do like learning from memoirs, though, and have just now ordered a copy of the Clarence Thomas book. Unfortunately, it’s not available at audible.com, as it’s the kind of thing I probably would like to listen to. 

    It reminds me of two other good books that aren’t about race per se, but are about the experience of some African-American descendants of slaves in America.  Racism was of course a part of their stories.

    One is All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw by Theodore Rosengarten.  It’s based on an oral history by Ned Cobb (aka Nate Shaw) in the Black Belt sharecropper region of Alabama.  A lot of it takes place in the 1930s. After listening to the book and then reading it, I visited some of the places told about in the book on my one and only trip to the deep south by bicycle (in 2006).   The locations in the book were somewhat vague and fictionalized in order to protect the identity of Ned Cobb’s family members, some of whom did not agree with his assertive path to trying to better himself in a white-dominated world. He spent ten years in prison after using a gun to defend his property rights, which was a hardship for his family and was somewhat resented at the time. (For one of my destinations I rode to the prison location, now a women’s prison.) A brother of his had a different approach: Don’t own anything, and then they can’t take it away from you. But I was able to figure out most of the locations, and by the time I learned about the book his family was proud of him. 

    The other is The Warmth of  Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.  It’s a collection of a lot of family stories of black people who migrated from the south to the urban north.  

    Oral histories and memoirs have their weaknesses, of course.  It has been noted by other researchers that Ned Cobb had three versions of his life story, depending on who the audience was.   So I read them (or listen to them) with the same grains of salt that I read or listen to anything else. 

     

    • #18
  19. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Thanks for all the suggestions so far, folks. I am taking it all in, and would be glad to see more suggestions.

    • #19
  20. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Same as almost all the above. Anything by Steele or Sowell.

    • #20
  21. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    I would read the biographies of Fredrick Douglas  and Booker T Washington (Up from Slavery) to understand the past

    I would read Sowell or Steele to understand the present

     

    • #21
  22. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    First choice: Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made.  Written while Genovese was still a Marxist, I believe, and a scholarly work of the first rank. The complexities of the relations between slaves and slave owners, the moral ambiguities, and the just plain unbelievable-to-modern-ears realities astounded me. Who knew that slaves accused of rape (in some states you could rape ONLY white women) were often acquitted because judges followed the rules? Who knew that when some of the owners were ruined because Confederate paper money was suddenly valueless, their former slaves, who had wisely garnered some coins, stepped in and helped them out?  Who knew…but you get the idea.  

    Second choice: two short stories by Flannery O’Connor wherein the woke would recognize their own self-righteousness and projection if only they have eyes to see: “Everything That Rises Must Converge” and “The Everlasting Chill.” O’Connor, who lived in Georgia, knew some of the complexities involved in actually living together.

    For me, the besetting sin of the woke movement is oversimplification and reductionism (in service of a sneering self-righteousness and hypocricy). So the antidote must be an honest look at actual, complex reality.

    • #22
  23. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy) Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy)
    @GumbyMark

    Some suggestions as it is difficult to find one and one only.

    For some snappy and quick info on current race issues (along with some others) I suggest Taboo: 10 Facts You Can’t Talk About by Wilfred Reilly, a professor at an HBCU.  His twitter feed is also a good source and relatively sane for Twitter.

    As to the history of race in America I suggest:

    Reckoning With Race: America’s Failure (2017) by Gene Dattel which focuses on the Northern states after Emancipation.  From America’s founding until well into the 20th century assimilation of immigrants was a key element in our success, but, as Dattel notes, despite the 14th Amendment, social norms continued to exclude blacks from the process of assimilation for many decades.

    Dattel takes the reader through the long and discouraging post Civil War history of white Northern attitudes and actions towards black Americans, including rejections of attempts at assimilation, particularly as the Great Migration of southern blacks took place from 1915 to 1960.

    After lambasting whites for much of its course, Reckoning With Race moves in a different direction in its concluding chapters.  With dramatic changes in the attitudes of whites since World War II, new and effective Civil Rights legislation was enacted and a world of opportunities opened for the descendants of slaves.  Dattel rues that these opportunities have not been more actively seized and, instead, doctrines of multiculturalism, separatism, and a failure to confront community issues of family disintegration and violence, along with an unjustified pessimism have begun to dominate to the detriment of African-Americans.  The author sums it up in this way, “. . . current racial issues are likened to those of the 1960s as a way of cloaking today’s problems with the aura of the civil rights movement.”

    [NOTE: How much has changed in 4 years!  Today the Woke argue that the Civil Rights Movement was an outright failure]

    What does the historical experience of the United States look like in comparison to the other nations of the Americas where slavery was established and which have had to deal with the integration of freed slaves and their descendants into their societies?  That’s the subject of a comparative study by Robert J Cottrol, a black professor of law and history at George Washington University;  The Long, Lingering Shadow: Slavery, Race, and Law in the American Hemisphere (2013) in which the Afro-American experience in nine nations – the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic) is examined in detail.  The book is brimming with history I’d been previously unfamiliar with.  The wide scope is appropriate as the lands now part of the United States were the destination for only about 4% of the poor souls transported in the Trans-Atlantic trade; Brazil received almost half of those transported, the British and French sugar colonies in the Caribbean about 30%, with the Spanish colonies the remainder (of which Cuba received more than half).  So many Africans were brought to the New World that from 1492 until the end of the 19th century more Africans than Europeans reached the Western Hemisphere.

    The cultural and geographic differences of the receiving societies in the Americas are thoroughly explored by Cottrol, as well as the distinct legal systems and their consequences for the slaves and their descendents.  The author has some fascinating insights into how the hierarchical Iberian societies and the aspirations for equality (at least for whites) of the United States contributed to different outcomes when it came to the treatment of slaves and freed blacks.  Cottrol draws no overall conclusion as to whether any of these systems was better than the others and I suspect readers will come to very different judgments.

    The legal system instituted by the South after the Civil War to control freed blacks, popularly known as Jim Crow, was unprecedented in the Americas in its strictness, but Cottrol points out that with the start of the post World War II revolution in civil rights, along with changes in the U.S. legal system and the attitudes of whites, America jumped ahead of the rest of the hemisphere in the integration of Afro-Americans into society and, in fact, served as a prod to speed up such efforts in other nations.   Cottrol ends on a cautiously optimistic note when it comes to the United States.  I suspect if he was writing in 2021 it would not be so optimistic.

    Comparative studies are helpful, because so much of the Woke assault on American society is pretending that America is uniquely evil.  The real question is completely different.  Slavery is universal throughout human history.  Why was it in the West, including the United States, that an abolition movement began and succeeded in ending it?

    Comparative studies are also useful in helping to recognize the false assertion that America’s wealth was built upon slavery.  If that were true quite a number of other countries in South America, Asia and Africa should be at least as wealthy as the U.S.  In fact, before the Civil War, a growing number of Southerners also recognized that slavery was holding back the economic development of the region, something also remarked upon by Northern observers.

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    GFHandle (View Comment):

    First choice: Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made.  Written while Genovese was still a Marxist, I believe, and a scholarly work of the first rank. The complexities of the relations between slaves and slave owners, the moral ambiguities, and the just plain unbelievable-to-modern-ears realities astounded me. Who knew that slaves accused of rape (in some states you could rape ONLY white women) were often acquitted because judges followed the rules? Who knew that when some of the owners were ruined because Confederate paper money was suddenly valueless, their former slaves, who had wisely garnered some coins, stepped in and helped them out?  Who knew…but you get the idea.  

    Sounds good. I’m not Seawriter’s son, but I’ll read that. It’s now in my Kindle queue.

    For me, the besetting sin of the woke movement is oversimplification and reductionism (in service of a sneering self-righteousness and hypocricy). So the antidote must be an honest look at actual, complex reality.

    Exactly so, on both the disease and the cure. 

    • #24
  25. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    That’s the subject of a comparative study by Robert J Cottrol, a black professor of law and history at George Washington University;  The Long, Lingering Shadow: Slavery, Race, and Law in the American Hemisphere (2013) in which the Afro-American experience in nine nations – the United States, Brazil, Ar

    I’ll read  that, too. Thx.

    • #25
  26. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Seawriter: … I am feeling down at the news of Boss Mongo’s death and cannot think of something appropriate. But the show must go on.

    As are we all, but I appreciate the sentiment which, I believe our dear, departed friend would endorse.  He might even call it “outstanding!”

    Seawriter’s Son: Hey dad, dumb question: if you were to recommend a single book discussing race in America, specifically something to counter the current identity politics, what would it be?

    Not a dumb question at all.  I’m with @dougkimball and those who’ve recommended Clarence Thomas’s My Grandfather’s Son.

    ***

    This is the Quote of the Day. July’s sign-up sheet is here,  and there are still plenty of dates available.  Please sign up today!

    If you’re new at this game, it’s a easy way to get your feet wet and start a conversation; if you’re an old-timer, you already know the ropes.  Either way, please sign up to speak up.

    Another ongoing project to encourage new voices is our Group Writing Project. July’s theme is “We Hold These Truths (or Fictions).”  If you’d like to weigh in, please sign up for Group Writing too!

    • #26
  27. The Cynthonian Member
    The Cynthonian
    @TheCynthonian

    In addition to the many excellent suggestions above, I’ll add Jared Taylor’s Paved with Good Intentions.  It’s a bit dated now but does a good job explaining a lot of the history and policy failures.

    • #27
  28. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Especially relevant given today’s rhetoric is The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward.  Published in 1955, it was based on a series of lectures by the author at the University of Virginia.  It is very readable and is considered a landmark work.  One of the handful of books that I kept from college.  I have been meaning to re-read it.

    • #28
  29. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Another that I read ages ago was Ken Hamblin’s “Pick a Better Country.”  I recall it being an honest appraisal of the Black community and life in American for a Black man from someone who’d lived it.  Easy reading, too.

    One I haven’t read, but have heard good things about, is Jason Riley’s “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed.”  The link is to a lengthy excerpt.

    I wouldn’t recommend either at the one book on the topic, but as good supporting material.

    • #29
  30. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Another that I read ages ago was Ken Hamblin’s “Pick a Better Country.” I recall it being an honest appraisal of the Black community and life in American for a Black man from someone who’d lived it. Easy reading, too.

    One I haven’t read, but have heard good things about, is Jason Riley’s “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed.” The link is to a lengthy excerpt.

    I wouldn’t recommend either at the one book on the topic, but as good supporting material.

    I have the Hamblin book. I used to listen to him on the radio back in the day

    • #30