These two subjects certainly are at the forefront of our dialogue this week. In a second review offered by the Washington Post yesterday, Peniel E. Joseph professor at Brandeis University and author of Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America reviews two books: SELLOUT - The Politics of Racial Betrayal By Randall Kennedy and WRONG ON RACE The Democratic Party's Buried Past By Bruce Bartlett.
Both Kennedy's account of racial sellouts and Bartlett's chronicle of the Democratic Party's sordid past illustrate contemporary efforts to grapple with racism's legacy. This is a daunting, even thankless, task, especially in light of the nation's unwillingness to come to terms with its history of racial slavery. Black sensitivity to racial betrayal springs directly out of that history, as does the Democratic Party's crudely effective race-baiting, echoes of which infuse the modern day Republican Party's racial pandering. These books offer illuminating evidence that, despite great marks of progress, race's stranglehold on the nation's collective conscious remains as strong as ever -- its hold on the lives of citizens, political institutions and our democracy made no less insidious by the fact that, in the post civil rights-black power era, its staying power is less openly discussed. *