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Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America

Thursday January 2006


John McWhorter Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

Is black America really worse off now than it was 40 years ago? If so, how can black America finally fulfill the dreams of the Civil Rights movement?

Indeed, by most measurable standards, conditions for poor blacks grew worse after 1965: incarceration rates reached record highs, teenage pregnancy and out-of-wedlock births became normal rather than exceptional, and educational failure began stifling achievement among black youth. Before the 1960's, urban black communities were struggling but stable; now these communities are desolate and dangerous ghettos. Why?

In Winning the Race, McWhorter argues that black America’s current problems began with an unintended byproduct of the Civil Rights revolution, a crippling mindset of “therapeutic alienation.” This wary stance toward mainstream American culture, although it is a legacy of racism in the past, continues to hold blacks back, and McWhorter traces all the poisonous effects of this defeatist attitude. He argues that true equality will only be achieved when black Americans move beyond the culture of alienation.