The End Of Blackness : Returning The Souls Of Black Folks To Their Rightful Owners / Debra J. Dickerson

When Dickerson wrote this controversial book in 2004, she was a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report.  As a young black woman, she was frustrated at the pace of racial progress in America. While she documents that prejudice is alive and well in this country, she also argues that blacks themselves play a major role in slowing their advancement in society.  In this book, she sets out to prove that the concept of “blackness” is losing its ability to describe or manipulate the political and social behavior of African Americans.  Dickerson feels that both whites and blacks are too joined together, both by blood and culture, to be considered separate entities. The book is divided into three separate sections.  In the first, the author shows that white racism and white supremacist ideology has not disappeared.  Much of the evidence she produces is impossible to refute.  However, I found it difficult to ferret out the gist of her argument, as it was buried in a verbose presentation.  The author’s anger seems to have colored her objectivity, too. In the second section, she focuses on African Americans, and discusses the sense of shame they exhibit regarding their own culture.  Dickerson contends that blacks’ true problem stems from accepting the white supremacist notion that their lower class status arises from and is an exhibition of black pathology.  This portion of the book, like the first, is often unfocused and hard to follow. It is only in her concluding chapter that a clear outline of her argument is presented.  What her critique seems to boil down to is that “race” is a bankrupt social construct and that racism will continue to exist no matter how many laws are passed or whether reparations are made.  It is up to African Americans to rise above the slights they face and become self-reliant.  Once blacks believe in themselves, they will succeed no matter what roadblocks they face.  The End of Blackness presents an explosive manifesto on race relations in this country.  It is unfortunate that her ideas are often lost in a poor presentation. A more focused argument would have served better to deliver the important points Dickerson raises.

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