In Search of Black America: Discovering the Africanamerican Dream

David Dent, Author Simon & Schuster $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-684-81072-0
After crisscrossing the U.S. for more than four years and taping hundreds of hours of interviews, Dent, a professor of journalism at New York University, has produced a startling overview of the middle-class majority of America's black population (62% of African-Americans have middle-class incomes and 17% make more than $50,000 annually). Attempting to offset the media's view of black life, which in Dent's view is dominated by images of black celebrities and inner-city rage, he balances the entertaining narrative of his travels with solid reporting, based on historical and sociological analysis and observation of a wide range of individuals and milieus. In Gallia County, Ohio, he interviews Elaine Armstrong, a woman who makes a living selling antique collectibles of racist images because she ""feels compelled to directly confront the past."" In Detroit, he speaks to George N'Namdi, an art dealer who sells paintings by black artists to a primarily black clientele. In a series of chapters, he charts the life of Gabrielle Hilson, who dropped out of the historically black Spellman College when she became pregnant and decided to become a single mother, move in with her parents and continue her education at another school. Never avoiding the institutionalized or personal racism that his subjects face, Dent manages to convey how it is both omnipresent and yet peripheral in their everyday lives. Candid and consistently engaging, Dent's work contributes to a better understanding of the role of race in American life. Agent, Faith Childs; 6-city author tour. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-7432-0305-0
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