Racial Justice in the Age of Obama

Princeton University Press
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With the election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States, the issue of racial justice in America occupies center stage. Have black Americans finally achieved racial justice? Is government intervention no longer required? Racial Justice in the Age of Obama considers contemporary civil rights questions and theories, and offers fresh insights and effective remedies for race issues in America today.

While there are now unprecedented opportunities for talented African Americans, Roy Brooks shows that lingering deficiencies remain within the black community. Exploring solutions to these social ills, Brooks identifies competing civil rights theories and perspectives, organizing them into four distinct categories--traditionalism, reformism, limited separation, and critical race theory. After examining each approach, Brooks constructs the best civil rights theory for the Obama phase of the post-civil rights era. Brooks supports his theoretical model with strong statistics that break down the major racial groups along such demographics as income and education. He factors in the cultural and structural explanations for the nation's racial divisions, and he addresses affirmative action, the failures of integration, the negative aspects of black urban culture, and the black community's limited access to resources. The book focuses on African Americans, but its lessons are relevant for other groups, including Latinos, Asians, women, and gays and lesbians.



Racial Justice in the Age of Obama maps out today's civil rights questions so that all groups can achieve equality at a time of unprecedented historical change.

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About the author

Roy L. Brooks is Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego. His many books include Atonement and Forgiveness: A New Model for Black Reparations and Integration or Separation?: A Strategy for Racial Equality.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 3, 2009
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9781400831043
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Civil Rights
Social Science / Black Studies (Global)
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In recent years, America’s criminal justice system has become the subject of an increasingly urgent debate. Critics have assailed the rise of mass incarceration, emphasizing its disproportionate impact on people of color. As James Forman, Jr., points out, however, the war on crime that began in the 1970s was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers. In Locking Up Our Own, he seeks to understand why.

Forman shows us that the first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office amid a surge in crime and drug addiction. Many prominent black officials, including Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry and federal prosecutor Eric Holder, feared that the gains of the civil rights movement were being undermined by lawlessness—and thus embraced tough-on-crime measures, including longer sentences and aggressive police tactics. In the face of skyrocketing murder rates and the proliferation of open-air drug markets, they believed they had no choice. But the policies they adopted would have devastating consequences for residents of poor black neighborhoods.

A former D.C. public defender, Forman tells riveting stories of politicians, community activists, police officers, defendants, and crime victims. He writes with compassion about individuals trapped in terrible dilemmas—from the men and women he represented in court to officials struggling to respond to a public safety emergency. Locking Up Our Own enriches our understanding of why our society became so punitive and offers important lessons to anyone concerned about the future of race and the criminal justice system in this country.

NOW A NEW YORK TIMES, PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, INDIEBOUND, LOS ANGELES TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, CHRONICLE HERALD, SALISBURY POST, GUELPH MERCURY TRIBUNE, AND BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER | NAMED A BEST/MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2017 BY: The Washington Post • Bustle • Men's Journal • The Chicago Reader • StarTribune • Blavity • The Guardian • NBC New York's Bill's Books • Kirkus • Essence

“One of the most frank and searing discussions on race ... a deeply serious, urgent book, which should take its place in the tradition of Baldwin's The Fire Next Time and King's Why We Can't Wait." —The New York Times Book Review

Toni Morrison hails Tears We Cannot Stop as "Elegantly written and powerful in several areas: moving personal recollections; profound cultural analysis; and guidance for moral redemption. A work to relish."

Stephen King says: "Here’s a sermon that’s as fierce as it is lucid...If you’re black, you’ll feel a spark of recognition in every paragraph. If you’re white, Dyson tells you what you need to know—what this white man needed to know, at least. This is a major achievement. I read it and said amen."

Short, emotional, literary, powerful—Tears We Cannot Stop is the book that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read.

As the country grapples with racist division at a level not seen since the 1960s, one man's voice soars above the rest with conviction and compassion. In his 2016 New York Times op-ed piece "Death in Black and White," Michael Eric Dyson moved a nation. Now he continues to speak out in Tears We Cannot Stop—a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

"The time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don't act now, if you don't address race immediately, there very well may be no future."

"How much compensation ought to be paid to a woman who was raped 7,500 times? What would the members of the Commission want for their daughters if their daughters had been raped even once?"
—Karen Parker, speaking before the U.N. Commission on Human Rights
Seemingly every week, a new question arises relative to the current worldwide ferment over human injustices. Why does the U.S. offer $20,000 atonement money to Japanese Americans relocated to concentration camps during World War II, while not even apologizing to African Americans for 250 years of human bondage and another century of institutionalized discrimination? How can the U.S. and Canada best grapple with the genocidal campaigns against Native Americans on which their countries were founded? How should Japan make amends to Korean "comfort women" sexually enslaved during World War II? Why does South Africa deem it necessary to grant amnesty to whites who tortured and murdered blacks under apartheid? Is Germany's highly praised redress program, which has paid billions of dollars to Jews worldwide, a success, and, as such, an example for others?More generally, is compensation for a historical wrong dangerous "blood money" that allows a nation to wash its hands forever of its responsibility to those it has injured?
A rich collection of essays from leading scholars, pundits, activists, and political leaders the world over, many written expressly for this volume, When Sorry Isn't Enough also includes the voices of the victims of some of the world's worst atrocities, thereby providing a panoramic perspective on an international controversy often marked more by heat than reason.
Roy L. Brooks reframes one of the most important, controversial, and misunderstood issues of our time in this far-reaching reassessment of the growing debate on black reparation. Atonement and Forgiveness shifts the focus of the issue from the backward-looking question of compensation for victims to a more forward-looking racial reconciliation. Offering a comprehensive discussion of the history of the black redress movement, this book puts forward a powerful new plan for repairing the damaged relationship between the federal government and black Americans in the aftermath of 240 years of slavery and another 100 years of government-sanctioned racial segregation.

Key to Brooks's vision is the government's clear signal that it understands the magnitude of the atrocity it committed against an innocent people, that it takes full responsibility, and that it publicly requests forgiveness—in other words, that it apologizes. The government must make that apology believable, Brooks explains, by a tangible act that turns the rhetoric of apology into a meaningful, material reality, that is, by reparation. Apology and reparation together constitute atonement. Atonement, in turn, imposes a reciprocal civic obligation on black Americans to forgive, which allows black Americans to start relinquishing racial resentment and to begin trusting the government's commitment to racial equality.

Brooks's bold proposal situates the argument for reparations within a larger, international framework—namely, a post-Holocaust vision of government responsibility for genocide, slavery, apartheid, and similar acts of injustice. Atonement and Forgiveness makes a passionate, convincing case that only with this spirit of heightened morality, identity, egalitarianism, and restorative justice can genuine racial reconciliation take place in America.
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