cover image Race and Reckoning: From Founding Fathers to Today’s Disruptors

Race and Reckoning: From Founding Fathers to Today’s Disruptors

Ellis Cose. Amistad, $27.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-307244-2

This blistering survey of racial inequality in America begins by deploring the “assault on the machinery of our democracy” launched by President Trump and his supporters in the wake of the 2020 election. However, contends journalist Cose (The Short Life and Curious Death of Free Speech in America), Trump “is only a man,” and his path to the presidency was paved by centuries of racism, exploitation, and discrimination. Spotlighting efforts by white Americans to preserve their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by denying those same rights to people of African, Asian, Latinx, and Indigenous descent, Cose briskly recounts the Trail of Tears, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the ransacking of East St. Louis by white mobs in 1917, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, and the anti-Mexican “Zoot Suit Riots” in 1943 Los Angeles. He argues that these and other episodes of racial violence and intolerance reveal the existence of a “belligerent minority that believes its self-selected rights are the only rights that matter,” and lucidly explains how the Electoral College, the filibuster, and voter suppression work to undermine the popular will and thwart racial equality. Much of this will be familiar to readers of American history and politics, but Cose draws incisive parallels between past and present. This is a pointed rebuke of American exceptionalism. (July)