A More Perfect Reunion: Race, Integration, and the Future of America

Calvin Baker. Bold Type, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-56858-923-7
In this rich, meditative account, novelist Baker (Grace) identifies the current “backlash of white bigotry” following the election of the first African-American president as a moment of national reckoning akin to the Continental Congress, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. In the process of examining why and how those earlier opportunities to “escape from the original sin and eternal problem of race” by fully integrating blacks and other minority groups into American society fell short, Baker offers a wide-ranging and erudite analysis of U.S. history, politics, and culture—from the arrival of the first slave ship at Port Comfort, Va., in 1619 to discriminatory policies built into FDR’s New Deal and an interracial adoption story line on the TV show This Is Us. He critiques identity politics (“my grievance versus your grievance”) on both the right and the left, and accuses liberals of preserving racist power structures by reaching compromises with white supremacists in order to advance piecemeal progressive reforms. Though Baker doesn’t make the mechanisms for “extend[ing] the full social contract” to African-Americans clear, he paints an incisive picture of the gaps—in wages, education, life expectancy, and criminal justice—that he says need to be closed in order for the promise of democracy to be fulfilled. This powerful call to action resonates. (June)
Reviewed on : 03/30/2020
Release date: 06/30/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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