African American Families Today: Myths and Realities

Earl Smith, Author, Angela Hattery, Author
Earl Smith and Angela Hattery. Rowman & Littlefield, $36 (228p) ISBN 978-1-4422-1396-8
Reviewed on: 11/05/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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Has the election of President Obama made a difference in the lives of African-Americans? The answer is no, according to Smith, a Wake Forest University ethnic studies professor, and Hattery, of George Mason University's women and gender studies program, who argue that "the majority of [African–American] families are worse off than they were" before President Obama took office. In this sweeping analysis of the contemporary social and political environment facing black Americans, the authors debunk some of the most harmful myths, particularly that poor blacks are intellectually lazy and have little interest in education and that they commit more crimes than other ethnic or racial groups. Pervasive structural obstacles remain, too, from segregated and subpar schools to discrimination in employment and housing. Add in the Great Recession and the picture painted is bleak indeed. On the political front, the authors make good points about Obama's failure to appoint more blacks to his cabinet. But taking the first African-American president to task so relentlessly for the deep-seated social and economic problems brushes aside the reality of a politically polarized Washington and detracts from this otherwise timely and absorbing book. (Nov.)
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