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Race Relations Bogged Down by the Left?
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So many conversations revolve around race nowadays.
Whether the subject be economic inequality, Black Lives Matter, the Alt-Right, Chicano solidarity, or something else, notions of race dominate American society. If nothing else, Barack Obama’s two terms failed to deliver a post-racial United States.
One could argue that the states themselves are less united with each another than they were little over eight years ago.
I have much to say about this, but the words of someone else hold much higher value. His perspective is especially unique - not many folks feel comfortable discussing the subject of race.
Author and journalist Harry Stein bucked the trend with gusto. In his 2012 book, the aptly titled ‘No Matter What... They’ll Call This Book Racist: How our Fear of Talking Honestly About Race Hurts Us All,’ he contributed more than a fair share to that honest conversation Eric Holder requested.
Stein contends that race relations are bogged down not by those on the right, but the left. His argument is evidenced by the all too familiar trials and tribulations of such notable black conservatives as Clarence Thomas and Condoleeza Rice.
He also brings up the unfortunate realities of single parenthood, affirmative action gone awry, and the strongly negative impacts of both on minority communities.
There is far more, of course. Stein deftly addresses self-defeating social cycles which prohibit untold millions from actualizing their respective full potentials. Multiculturalism, and the sort of discontent that it can forge, does not go unmentioned, either.
Nonetheless, I could not help but sense that Stein is blinded somewhat by his allegiance to right-leaning politics.
While the left shamelessly profits over contemporary racial strife, the right hardly offers a plethora of tried-and-true solutions. This is not to say that Stein himself does not - as a matter of fact, he writes about more than a few - but none seem especially groundbreaking.
‘No Matter What’ is a fine book, and one that champions the earnest, positive message of lending a hand up rather than a handout. Will it convince those on the left and in the center that the modern right is the way to go for alleviating the awful pressures of divisive racial politics?
Not a chance.
However, it might begin a productive discussion, and that is good enough for me. Who can seriously argue that our country is not in dire need of such dialogue?,
Joseph Ford Cotto is, the editor-in-chief of The San Francisco Review of Books. Email him at