Winning the Race. John McWhorter.



John McWhorter

Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America. John McWhorter. Gotham, 2006.

March 22, 2009

John McWhorter’s Winning the Race has a strong sociological approach to the issues of black America, surveying the history of the development of the inner cities and the welfare system, leading to the dependence that later found expression in affirmative action and racial preferences. My background being more literary in nature, I do not have the grounding for assessing McWhorter’s sociological arguments and data and will focus on his discussion of racial preference and its dynamics, of which I have personal experience, on the ground shall we say, and extensive knowledge and interest….

Now available in

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.

Frederick Glaysher



Filed under Race in America

2 Responses to Winning the Race. John McWhorter.

  1. Tom

    Submitted on 2011/02/03 at 4:18 pm

    absolutely great post, we need more like this, i just want to say that we have to look at the works of the great web du bois to give us understanding and improvement. thanks guys!

  2. FG

    Submitted on 2011/02/06 at 4:02 pm

    Thanks for commenting. I respect your opinion and don’t mind your linking to your site. I must say, however, I don’t believe Web Du Bois is an entirely exemplary figure, given his Marxism and angry alienation that cut him off from engaging more productively with the problems of race in America. For those reasons, I regard Web Du Bois as a tragic figure.

    I notice your website makes no mention of Robert Hayden, with whom I studied at the University of Michigan. I believe Robert Hayden is much more important poet than some of the writers you highlight. His universal approach to race was much more productive of a profoundly human vision than many blacks writers of more radical orientation. Indeed, I would argue, much of African-American writing today suffers for its failure to recognize and understand Hayden’s vision of human oneness. I hope you will include a fair and balanced discussion of his work on your website. See my editions of his Collected Prose and Collected Poems.

    I must take exception with your characterizations of Countee Cullen and Ralph Ellison. I studied the poet under Robert Hayden, who greatly admired Cullen and had met him on one occasion. (Cullen had asked Hayden to read his poem The Falcon, from his early Heart-Shape in the Dust.) Both Cullen and Ellison had much more nuanced understandings of race than your website allows. Unfortunately, much of African-American literary criticism reflects, to its detriment, similar shortcomings and deficients in dealing with the fullness of the American literary tradition, as represented by Cullen, Ellison, and Robert Hayden.

    I invite you and others to consider the seriousness of their critique of *black* as well as “white” culture. They offer a much more profound vision of life than the angry romanticism that undergirds the thinking of Web Du Bois and the people that John McWhorter wrote about.

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