New York Times columnist Rhoden offers a charged assessment of the state of black athletes in America, using the pervasive metaphor of the plantation to describe"/>
 

$40 Million Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete

William C. Rhoden, Author
William C. Rhoden, Author . Crown $23.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-609-60120-4
Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 07/01/2006
Paperback - 286 pages - 978-0-307-35314-6
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-15359-1
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New York Times columnist Rhoden offers a charged assessment of the state of black athletes in America, using the pervasive metaphor of the plantation to describe a modern sports industry defined by white ownership and black labor. The title and the notion behind it are sure to raise eyebrows, and Rhoden admits that his original title of Lost Tribe Wandering , for all its symbolic elegance, lacked punch. And Rhoden isn't pulling any of his. Rather than seeing rags-to-riches stories where underprivileged athletes reach the Promised Land by way of their skills, he casts the system as one in which those athletes are isolated from their backgrounds, used to maximize profit and instilled with a mindset "whereby money does not necessarily alter one's status as 'slave,' as long as the 'owner' is the one who controls the rules that allow that money to be made." Rhoden's writing is intelligent and cogent, and his book's tone is hardly as inflammatory as its name. It's possible that his title and working metaphor will turn off readers who will simply refuse to consider young men making millions of dollars playing a game to be disenfranchised. Nevertheless, this is an insightful look at the role of blacks in sports they dominate but hardly control. (June)

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