A Dream Deferred : The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America. Shelby Steele.
Reawakening the Dream…. December 7, 2000
This morning, sometime around three or four AM, I woke up thinking about Shelby Steele’s A Dream Deferred. I read it a number of months ago and have been wanting to write a brief note about it. There are so few intelligent, reasonable, sane voices speaking about racial matters in America I feel it as a duty to try to acknowledge those who are so scorned by the forces of both white and black extremist liberalism. The thought that impelled me out of bed was that I owe it to my memory of the best friend I’ve ever had in my life, who happened to be black, long deceased and sorely missed. So I struggle for words, knowing I will never meet that high mark. Others may criticize Mr. Steele for emphasizing this and underplaying that, but I want to praise his thoughtful probing of the dynamics of affirmative action and how it assuages white guilt while keeping some black people from developing their highest potential. As a former college English instructor, I occasionally had minority students who were accustomed to being handed A’s and were shocked to receive C’s. Repeated experience convinced me that affirmative action was part of the problem. They lacked the self-discipline and responsibility that Steele extolls: “Very often those who educate poor blacks feel excused from the responsibilities of high expectations and academic rigor by the very conditions that make such expectations mandatory….”
Now available in
The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.