Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not standing on enough shoulders:
'Disintegration' reviewed

That resilient, inventive composite of the American demographic collectively called black America has put the children of many sociologists, musicologists, cultural anthropologists and statisticians through college. The different ways black Americans have survived and thrived in the United States (since before the United States existed) has been subject to slicing and dicing by a wide range of scholars stretching back generations.

Some of that analysis has been necessary; less of it has been inspired. But if these works of explanation, either scholarly or popular, are to mean anything, their explanation of where African Americans are as a people has to fully relate to how African Americans got to this point — this golden stair, this slough of despond — in the national life.

The sound analysis of African American history embraces the idea that, to borrow the saying, “Everyone stands on someone’s shoulders.” How it is that "Disintegration," Eugene Robinson’s periodically diverting study of African Americans a decade into the 21st century, seems to grasp this so intermittently is anyone’s guess. ...

Read the rest at PopMatters

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