Books: In Review
Other recent and forthcoming releases that explore African-American themes include:
On the Edge: A History of Poor Black Kids and Their American Dreams, by Carl Husemoller Nightingale (Basic Books, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, N.Y. 10022; 272 pp., $24 cloth). A history professor brings a new perspective to the plight of the urban poor through his six-year study of the children of an inner-city neighborhood in Philadelphia. The ghetto is not an utterly foreign world, he shows, but a mirror of mainstream America, beset by conspicuous consumerism, mass-media violence, and pervasive feelings of frustration and resentment. (October)
What Black People Should Do Now: Dispatches From Near the Vanguard, by Ralph Wiley (Ballantine, 201 E. 50th St., New York, N.Y. 10022; 368 pp., $22 cloth). A veteran journalist whose last book was entitled Why Black People Tend To Shout collects in this volume his observations on the daily struggle against racism, black-on-black violence, and the perceived ambivalence of the black community toward educational success. "Since when did learning in school become 'acting white?''' he asks in one chapter. "Why isn't robbing and stealing ... considered 'acting white'? Who makes up the rules on what is black and what is white?'' (October)
African American Mothers and Urban Schools: The Power of Participation, by Wendy Glasgow Winters (Lexington Books, 866 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022; 136 pp., $25.95 cloth). Examines how parental involvement at schools benefits disadvantaged parents, as an opportunity for personal growth and empowerment as well as a gateway to increased community participation. Ms. Winters, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Howard University, documents these positive results in case studies of African-American women who resumed their own education after taking part in programs at their children's schools. (September)
Keeping Faith, by Cornel West (Routledge, 319 pp., $19.95 cloth). The author of the best-selling Race Matters continues his conversation on race and culture in America. Mr. West, a professor of religion and the director of the Afro-American-studies program at Princeton University, presents his scholarly views on the role of philosophy, politics, law, and multiculturalism in American society.
In the section on "Cultural Criticism and Race,'' Mr. West calls on the country's increasingly diverse cultural elite, including black intellectuals, to explore and celebrate the "politics of difference'' without resorting to chauvinism. This is needed, he says, to "promote a prospective and prophetic vision with a sense of possibility and potential, especially for those who bear the social costs of the present.'' (October)
Eating on the Street: Teaching Literacy in a Multicultural Society, by David Schaafsma (University of Pittsburgh Press, 448 pp., $24.95 cloth). This enigmatically titled work uses a storyteller's technique to show the complexity of teaching literacy skills in a racially divided society. Mr. Schaafsma, who now teaches English at the University of Wisconsin, details his work with a special writing program taught jointly by teachers from the Detroit public schools and the University of Michigan. "Eating on the street'' refers to a dispute about student behavior that arose on a field trip when one African-American teacher objected to other teachers' not correcting poor black students when they engaged in behavior that might stigmatize them.
The author uses this and other stories to weave together disparate viewpoints and show the added richness that can be brought to the learning process by talking across multiple perspectives. (December)
Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation, ed. by Gerald Early (Viking Penguin, 351 pp., $23.50 cloth). In this book published last April, 20 leading African-American intellectuals examine the complex psychological position of being black in America. Using a passage from The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois as a point of departure, the contributors examine the unique "double consciousness'' of blacks; the implicit pressure to choose between assimilation and black nationalism. Contributors include the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist James McPherson, the poet Nikki Giovanni, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., the head of Harvard University's African-American-studies program.
The African Americans, ed. by Charles M. Collins & David Cohen (Viking Penguin, 240 pp., $45 cloth). Conceived by a black businessman and the director of the best-selling "Day in the Life'' photography series, this large-format, photographic portrait of African-American achievement contains more than 250 contemporary and historical photographs of "heroes, leaders, and role models.'' (October).
Compiled by Sally K. Gifford.