Harvard University sociologist Patterson (Freedom in the Making of Western Culture) packs a lot into this collection of previously unpublished essays on race. Arguably tagged by some as a conservative, he offers several challenges to prevailing wisdom: persisting segregation, he claims, is partly a voluntary phenomenon for blacks. He argues that the condition of Afro-Americans (his preferred term) is paradoxical: they are better off than before but suffer disproportionately from poverty and unwed teenage motherhood. He powerfully criticizes revisionist scholars of slavery who paradoxically want African Americans recognized as victims but won't accept that the victims remain injured. But Patterson also criticizes conservatives who won't acknowledge patterns of discrimination, likening affirmative action to less controversial antitrust laws. He concludes with several proposals: abandon current terms of racial discourse for ""ethnicity""; move people from the inner cities to suburban jobs and restrict illegal immigrant labor; ban high-school students from sports teams if they impregnate classmates; phase out affirmative action over the next 15 years and limit the categories of Hispanics, Asians, women and upper-middle-class recipients. Some of this book is unwieldy, but Patterson's ideas are worthy of serious debate. (Oct.) FYI: This is the first of the publisher's planned three-volume trilogy on the sociology, history and culture of race in America, to be written by various authors.
Reviewed on: 11/03/1997 Release date: 11/01/1997 Genre: Nonfiction
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