cover image Restoring Hope CL

Restoring Hope CL

Cornel West. Beacon Press (MA), $23 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8070-0942-0

This book transcribes eight meandering conversations on race conducted by West (Race Matters) with such prominent people as Harry Belafonte, poet/publisher Haki Madhubuti and Wynton Marsalis. Several were held publicly at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, and many range far from the ostensible topic of race. Among the more substantive points here: ex-senator Bill Bradley calls for properly funding the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; law professor Patricia Williams suggests that not talking about race leads to stress and mental illness in blacks; Maya Angelou urges listeners to ""use it all,"" to gain inspiration from any thinker. However, the speechifying West tends to applaud rather than challenge his interviewees, and this book does not fully engage many important issues--Afrocentrism, affirmative action, unwed motherhood, tensions between black men and black women--that will likely affect the future of black America. This title is the first project of the Obsidian Society, a nonprofit organization that helps African American arts projects. Sealey, who edited these tapes, is founder of the Obsidian Society and a doctoral student in American history at the City University of New York. Author tour. (Oct.)