How Race Is Lived

New York Times, Author, Correspondents of the New York Times, Author, Joseph Lelyveld, Introduction by Times Books $27.5 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6740-8
In his introduction to this expansive book on the complexity of contemporary race relations, Joseph Lelyveld, executive editor of the New York Times, notes that he urged his correspondents to ""go deep"" beyond the headlines with their research and ""hang in there."" His staff produced 15 stellar stories that dig down to the gnarled crux of our racial dilemma in this turbulent post-O.J. era, presenting a startling array of voices and situations. In the powerful opening story, ""Shared Prayers, Mixed Blessings,"" Kevin Sack chronicles the power of faith as a unifying force in a formerly segregated, now multi-racial church near Atlanta. Another poignant account, ""Best of Friends, Worlds Apart,"" follows the immigration and acculturation of two youths from Cuba, where race is a lower-case issue, who find that their experiences in Miami are so different (one is dark-skinned and one is light) that it drives a wedge into their longtime friendship. Janny Scott's ""Who Gets to Tell a Black Story?"" explores the need for self-determination and the opportunity to define one's cultural image, as a reporter details countless obstacles faced by an African-American TV director and his writers in bringing a controversial series on drug abuse in a Baltimore neighborhood to the small screen. The unorthodox efforts of a young white writer and activist, Billy (Upski) Wimsatt, to open a dialogue between white and black youth gives new meaning to the term ""wigger"" (a white who wants to be black) in N.R. Kleinfeld's well-turned story, ""Guarding the Borders of the Hip-Hop Nation."" While the so-called ""unmediated conversations about race"" at the end cover familiar ground, several revelations crop up in the raw interviews with the black, white and Hispanic subjects for the pieces that are reprinted at the end of the book. Overall, this high-minded, superbly written collection unflinchingly probes America's racial struggles, posing as many solutions as it does questions, shining much-needed light on one of the nation's toughest challenges. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-8050-7084-2
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