Afraid of the Dark: What Whites and Blacks Need to Know about Each Other

Jim Myers, Author, Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Foreword by Lawrence Hill Books $22.95 (348p) ISBN 978-1-55652-342-7
In this ambitious but frustrating book, Myers, formerly the chief writer of the USA Today series ""Race and Sports,"" draws on his work and life experience as a white man married to a black woman, living in a mostly black Washington, D.C., neighborhood. He's at his best when attempting to serve as a cultural bridge, explaining, for example, why seemingly innocent words and perceptions may have racial implications--such as how the word ""niggardly"" might offend those from a more oral culture or how both blacks and whites he knows romanticize the poor. In addition, he makes some important basic points: given the 6.4-1 ratio of whites to blacks, contact between the races can never be equal, especially given that whites live in even more segregated worlds than blacks do. Yet while Myers calls for whites to avoid incorrect generalizations about blacks, some of his own generalizations deserve better explication: yes, whites may be more ""cold"" and logical than blacks, but that should be a springboard for anecdotal elucidation rather than broad conceptualization. While he reminds us that most people on welfare are not black, Myers neglects to acknowledge that blacks are disproportionately represented on the rolls and that therefore political analysis--rather than Myers's simple prescription of reeducation--should lead to a solution. While he states that the ""two cultures"" are surprisingly similar and complementary, others might analyze the subtleties of a more creolized American culture. Still, he helpfully advises that whites and blacks must build relationships before they can talk frankly, and he's brave enough to wade into some subterranean topics, including how myths about penis size threaten relations between white men and black men. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Paperback - 360 pages - 978-1-55652-388-5
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