You might have heard that civil rights activist Al Sharpton will be visiting Fort Wayne. He will be speaking at Come as You Are Community Church on September 21st, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. It’s no secret that Sharpton is pretty polarizing. Whatever your views of the man, if you’d like to read more about the issues he will likely address, try one of these books.
John A. Rich is a doctor who interviewed dozens of African American men affected by urban violence. In Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence in the Lives of Young Black Men, Rich laments the fact that we as a society have come to see urban black violence as “normal” – even inevitable. He reminds us that these young men – even the ones that many people think “deserve” their injuries – are scarred by the violence and trauma they see on a daily basis. Like any of us, these young men and boys feel fear, loss, abandonment, and sorrow. If we just listen, we can learn so much from their stories.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander argues that mass incarceration in America has taken over the role of Jim Crow laws designed to control and hinder the progress of young black men. Alexander cites statistics to show that African American men living in poverty are discriminated against in all phases of the legal process – policing, prosecuting, conviction, and sentencing.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ beautifully written Between the World and Me is a letter to his teenage son – a letter filled with rage over what it means to be a black man in America. This book is on the bestseller list, so the library’s copies are probably all checked out. While waiting for a copy, you might start with The Beautiful Struggle, a fascinating look at Coates’ youth in urban Baltimore. Flirting with street life and ignoring school work, Coates found himself moving in another, more positive direction after becoming “Conscious” by discovering his African roots.
Jason Riley believes that well-intentioned social welfare programs actually hold black Americans back. In Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, Riley claims that social welfare programs have destroyed the black nuclear family and discouraged blacks’ financial self-sufficiency. He argues that liberal policies have only encouraged African Americans to embrace victimhood and entitlement – and that the solution is for white liberals to step away and allow black Americans to take responsibility for their future.
In Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country, Shelby Steele makes the case that liberal politicians exaggerate claims of racial inequality in order to justify overreaching public welfare programs. Steele argues that affirmative action and other programs have fostered a sense of victimization among black Americans and that it’s only through a return to personal freedom and merit-based competition that our society will achieve equality.
Ben Shapiro’s Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans criticizes Sharpton, calling him a “race bully” and blaming him for inciting hatred and riots. Shapiro accuses Sharpton and other liberals of using bullying in the form of false accusations of sexism and racism in order to demonize conservatives and claim the moral high ground.