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Winning the Race

Publisher: Gotham • 452 • 2005 pages

Ask any Leftist and he’ll tell you: four decades after the great victories of the Civil Rights Movement, black Americans are worse off than ever before: desperate poverty cripples black communities nationwide, incarceration rates have reached record highs, teenage pregnancy and out-of- wedlock births are rampant, and educational failures are stifling achievement among the next generation. Why? Because of white racism, of course. But now, John McWhorter (bestselling author of Losing the Race) challenges this stale canard head-on, exposes the true roots of today’s crises among black Americans, and sketches out a bold new conservative way forward.

In “Winning the Race,” McWhorter proves that black America’s current problems began with the spread of the crippling liberal mindset of “therapeutic alienation” — the idea that blacks should separate themselves from mainstream American culture, and regard its standards and measures of success as fundamentally alien. This stance has been disastrous for black Americans — and McWhorter traces in searing detail all the poisonous effects of this defeatist attitude. In an in-depth case study of the Indianapolis inner city, he analyzes how a vibrant black neighborhood declined into slums, despite ample work opportunities in an American urban center where manufacturing jobs were plentiful. McWhorter takes a hard look at the legacy of Great Society social programs, showing how they have taught a whole generation to live permanently on welfare.

That’s not all. McWhorter also shines an unyielding light on educational failures among blacks — which have become pandemic because of an intellectual climate in which successful blacks are charged with “acting white.” He attacks the sorry state of black popular culture, in which criminality and unfocused anger have been celebrated and enshrined everywhere — not only in the halls of academia, but also by short-sighted politicians and community leaders, who in their mad lust for votes and popular support either don’t know or don’t care about rap’s glorification of irresponsibility and violence as “protest.”

In a stirring conclusion, McWhorter puts forth a new vision of black political and intellectual leadership. He emphasizes that blacks and whites must work together to abolish the culture of victimhood that liberals have for so long fostered among blacks. Only this, he says, can improve the future of black America — and he outlines steps that must be taken to restore hope in that future.

John McWhorter reveals:

  • How black Americans do not equate equal opportunity with lowered standards put forward in the name of “diversity”
  • How the idea that blacks should adopt a stance of alienation toward American society arose from the Left’s counterculture movement of the 1960s
  • Why most sociological studies of why the black community is beset by so many problems are essentially worthless liberal fantasizing
  • Proven false: the pervasive notion that what black Americans need most is for whites to face their inner racist tendencies
  • How policymakers and academics ignore and disrespect the existence and achievements of the growing black middle class
  • The thoughtful but opportunistic black rapper who plays the thug for his fans and parrots the liberal line about racism because it “makes good television”
  • Why, if we are truly committed to closing the achievement gap between blacks and whites, we must be interested in “diversity” only among people with equal qualifications
  • How to distinguish genuine black leaders from grandstanding, self-aggrandizing purveyors of victimology
  • Encouraging evidence that the ideology of victimhood is already losing steam among black Americans

“John McWhorter demolishes the liberal conventional wisdom about the sources of poverty, crime, family breakdown, and other social ills that afflict the black community today, and offers a compelling alternative vision of how to move beyond the current crisis. Winning the Race is a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the problem of race in modern America.” —Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom, authors of America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible and No Excuses: How to Close the Racial Gap in Learning

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