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Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--And What We Can Do aby Juan Williams
Synopses & Reviews
Half a century after brave Americans took to the streets to raise the bar of opportunity for all races, Juan Williams writes that too many black Americans are in crisis—caught in a twisted hip-hop culture, dropping out of school, ending up in jail, having babies when they are not ready to be parents, and falling to the bottom in twenty-first-century global economic competition.
In Enough, Juan Williams issues a lucid, impassioned clarion call to do the right thing now, before we travel so far off the glorious path set by generations of civil rights heroes that there can be no more reaching back to offer a hand and rescue those being left behind.
Inspired by Bill Cosbys now famous speech at the NAACP gala celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown decision integrating schools, Williams makes the case that while there is still racism, it is way past time for black Americans to open their eyes to the “culture of failure” that exists within their community. He raises the banner of proud black traditional values—self-help, strong families, and belief in God—that sustained black people through generations of oppression and flowered in the exhilarating promise of the modern civil rights movement. Williams asks what happened to keeping our eyes on the prize by proving the case for equality with black excellence and achievement.
He takes particular aim at prominent black leaders—from Al Sharpton to Jesse Jackson to Marion Barry. Williams exposes the call for reparations as an act of futility, a detour into self-pity; he condemns the “Stop Snitching” campaign as nothing more than a surrender to criminals; and he decries the glorification of materialism, misogyny, and murder as a corruption of a rich black culture, a tragic turn into pornographic excess that is hurting young black minds, especially among the poor.
Reinforcing his incisive observations with solid research and alarming statistical data, Williams offers a concrete plan for overcoming the obstacles that now stand in the way of African Americans full participation in the nations freedom and prosperity. Certain to be widely discussed and vehemently debated, Enough is a bold, perceptive, solution-based look at African American life, culture, and politics today.
"When Bill Cosby addressed a 50th-anniversary celebration of Brown v. Board of Education, he created a major controversy with seemingly inoffensive counsel ('begin with getting a high school education, not having children until one is twenty-one and married, working hard at any job, and being good parents'). Building from Cosby's speech, NPR/Fox journalist Williams offers his ballast to Cosby's position. Williams starts with the question, 'Why are so many black Americans, people born inside the gates of American opportunity, still living as if they were locked out from all America has to offer?' His answers include the debacle of big-city politics under self-serving black politicians; reparations as 'a divisive dead-end idea'; the parlous state of city schools 'under the alliance between the civil rights leaders and the teachers' unions'; and the transformation of rap from 'its willingness to confront establishment and stereotypes' to 'America's late-night masturbatory fantasy.' A sense of the erosion of 'the high moral standing of civil rights' underlies Cosby's anguish and Williams's anger. Politically interested readers of a mildly conservative bent will find this book sheer dynamite. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In 1963 James Baldwin emerged as an oracle on race relations in the service of transforming American democracy. A masterpiece of criticism, 'The Fire Next Time' cast Baldwin as a modern-day Jeremiah warning the nation against impending doom posed by segregation, institutional racism and white supremacy. 'Time catches up with kingdoms and crushes them,' he cautioned. More than 40 years later,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) prophets such as Baldwin have all but vanished from intellectual discourse, replaced by a chorus of commentators whose gaze has turned decidedly inward. Lacking the political courage and personal compassion to confront the racism, segregation, poverty and violence that so disturbed Baldwin, these post-civil rights critics observe that, for black people, the enemy is us. Juan Williams, an NPR analyst and former Washington Post reporter, joins a growing line of such fed-up liberals and disappointed progressives (including scholar Orlando Patterson and entertainer Bill Cosby) who find the state of much contemporary black life alarming and more than a little embarrassing, considering the gains of the civil rights movement. Williams believes that the 1954 Brown school-desegregation decision and subsequent activism and legislation virtually cured the disease of racism; that heroic era was a 20th-century watershed. For him, the remedies for racism's remaining vestiges are education, self-determination and individual responsibility. Regarding political leaders in the 21st century, he prefers mavericks in the mold of Bill Cosby, whom he considers courageous enough to 'call out' the predatory behavior of the black poor. On this score, Williams laments what he sees as a black underclass mesmerized by racial hucksters playing 'old school' politics: corporate blackmail disguised as boycotts, naked shakedowns leveraged by rhetorical threats and the like. Occasionally the depth of historic and contemporary institutionalized racism faced by blacks creeps into Williams' discussion, but he is more concerned with what he perceives as black apathy and self-destructive behavior. This is disappointing: A discussion of post-civil rights racism would have added nuance to 'Enough's' criticism of contemporary black leadership, reparations, public schools, criminality and culture. For Williams, Cosby stands out as a prophet amid a searing American wilderness: bold enough to expose the rough truth that individual responsibility is more responsible than 'systemic racism' for black crime, educational shortcomings and bad behavior. In Cosby's speeches and Williams' book, fleeting acknowledgments of racism are trumped by simplistic, at times repetitive lectures cautioning blacks to look at their own shortcomings before blaming anyone else. Beyond Williams' polemics lies a more complex story about the political economy of racism whose effects on poor neighborhoods elude those who romanticize ghetto and 'gangsta' culture. His discussions of the 'stop snitching' campaigns that discourage cooperation with police and Cosby's outrage over the epidemic use of the 'N' word are worthy of serious debate. But that would require the kind of rich analysis, penetrating insight and layered narrative that 'Enough' lacks, as well as a hard look at the impacts of unemployment, racial profiling, police brutality and other features of modern-day racism, along with the lingering effects of slavery and Jim Crow, which continue to disfigure the lives of blacks and distort the shape of American democracy. Unlike 'The Covenant With Black America,' a best-selling anthology with concrete proposals for community empowerment, 'Enough' concludes with a flurry of righteous condescension, preaching that youngsters can best avoid poverty by finishing high school, getting a job and postponing marriage and child-bearing until at least 21. Williams' praise for African-Americans' creative resilience during the rough road from slavery to freedom is commendable, as is his ardor for the achievements of civil rights activists. But even as civil rights victories opened doors of opportunity, white backlash, the decline of industrial jobs and fatigue over racial conflict helped blunt the movement's more ambitious dreams: ending poverty, forging genuine racial integration and eliminating social, political and economic disparities based on race. Like many storytellers, Williams imagines that his subject, the civil rights movement, had a beginning, a middle and an end. But it may be closer to the truth to regard the civil rights victories of the 1960s as only a historic chapter in America's unfinished saga of racial struggle. Peniel E. Joseph, who teaches in the Department of Africana Studies at Stony Brook University, is the author of 'Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America.'" Reviewed by Peniel E. Joseph, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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One of the country's best known and most respected black journalists attacks the failure of the post-Civil Rights generation of African Americans to seize on the gains of that historic movement.
About the Author
Juan Williams is a senior correspondent for NPR®. He is also a political analyst for the Fox News Channel and a panelist on Fox News Sunday. He is the author of Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary and Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, among other books. During his twenty-one year career at The Washington Post, Williams served as an editorial writer, op-ed columnist, and White House correspondent. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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