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Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  545 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
“There was a time when there were agreed-upon 'black leaders,' when there was a clear 'black agenda,' when we could talk confidently about 'the state of black America'—but not anymore.” —from Disintegration

The African American population in the United States has always been seen as a single entity: a “Black America” with unified interests and needs. In his groundbreaking b
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2010)
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Feb 17, 2011 Aelee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First I'd like to say IMO, the book was written well. A quick read w/o much fluff. Each detail provided insight into African American culture and self identity.

Disintegration summed up in one sentence is a comparison between those that have and those that have not in the African American community.

In this book African Americans are placed into four categories: Transcendent, Mainstream, Emergent, and Abandoned. Example of these would be:

Transcendent: Oprah Winfrey, Obamas, Robert Johnson etc.
Jan 17, 2011 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started reading this book – I thought to myself – who was this book written for – thinking that most black (if not all) know we are not monolithic, and the information at the beginning of the book was something that is known, so was thinking this book was probably written for a non-black audience. But, as I read on – I changed my mind as in this book Eugene Robinson convinced me this is a book for all people and depending on which group was reading/discussing the book – they would p ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Jan 25, 2011 Mary Ronan Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
There is no "black America" any more says Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer-prize-winning Washington Post writer and MSNBC commentator. In the days of Jim Crow and widespread discrimination it didn't matter whether a black person had a PhD and taught at Stanford University or dropped out of high school and worked as a domestic, all black people were in danger of insult and even violence.

In the last 40 years this has changed, and for some African Americans it has changed dramatically. The black community
Joi Reece
May 13, 2012 Joi Reece rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book should be read and digested by all, as it is important to everyone of every political influence and economic state. Although at times this book transcends time, crossing 50+ years betwixt two paragraphs, I still found the basis of the information to be thought provoking. I must agree, “no one belongs to the black community” because there isn’t really one. Black America, according the book is divided into four groups:

1. The Mainstream majority: everyday strivers committed to making it
Joyce Lagow
Dec 25, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson is perhaps best-known as a columnist for the Washington Post, where he comments on the national scene, particularly politics, from his post in the nation’s capital. But he is also an author of several books. This, his latest, is an examination of what he describes as the end of what had been a more or less monolithic Afro-American community.

In Robinson’s view, previous to the mid-60s, Jim Crow laws in the South and de facto segregation in housing and
Another book I saw on the Colbert Report. The premise is that there is no longer one Black America, but rather four separate groups of Black Americans that have developed since the civil rights movement in the 60s: Transcendent (i.e. Oprah), Mainstream (middle class), Abandoned (poor), Emergent (immigrants that do not have American slave ancestry, and mixed race Black Americans). While it used to be the case that being victims of social injustice created unity among all Black Americans, this is ...more
Ke Huang
Jun 22, 2014 Ke Huang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The meat and potatoes of this book is about the author's argument that Black America is currently not a monolith, that is, Black America is made up of smaller groups such as the superinfluential, those of mixed race, African immigrants, etc.

Like any kind of categorization, I believe that it is not foolproof; there are always those who fall in the margins. Nevertheless, the author did a superb job in discussing the social, historical, and economic background of Black America. For me, what is lack
Mary Gail O'Dea
Nov 10, 2010 Mary Gail O'Dea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. Robinson argues that there is no longer one "Black America." Rather, the African American communities are four: The Mainstream (those who have made it solidly into the Middle Class), The Transcendent (those who are affluent and powerful in the world), The Emergent (composed of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean), and The Abandoned (the poor, ghettoized African Americans). Robinson postulates that some African Americans now have more in common with similar whites than they d ...more
Dec 09, 2010 Etoilenoire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, race, ebooks
As one of the Caribbean Emergent and Mainstream, I found myself continually nodding in agreement while reading this book. Mr. Robinson articulated many of the trends I'd observed but had been unable to express.

The author could have gone further in his analysis though. He seemed to skim the surface of the four groups while dwelling quite a bit on Jim Crow and other historic injustices.

Still a worthwhile read as it lays a foundation for further reflection.
Nov 06, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: real-world
Perceptive, precise, passionate. Fascinating read replete with history of the black community in Atlanta and Washington, DC. Glad this was written by a journalist and not some bombastic academic like Dyson. It's emotional and sincere but still crisp and professional. A great discussion on the african-american/black community's past, present, and future.
Feb 15, 2016 Byron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of the silly spate of books about what it means to be black now that there's a black president, I'd put this right up there with the very best of them, for what it's worth. Basically, what it does is break down how the black community has splintered in the past 30 years or so to the point where there's now four black communities. (Yikes!) There's some interesting insights into the black elite—the Oprahs and Bob Johnsons of the world, plus kinda rich black people who live in places like Atla ...more
Mary Ralph
If I could go back in time to 1 year ago, I would tell Bernie Sanders to read this book (as well as bet on the Superbowl, play the lotto, try to save lives, take down Trump, etc). I think that this book very easily and simply is a good State of Black America in the Obama presidency - how economics are and are not involved, the unshakeable caste that is being Black in America, and most importantly, identifying 4 groups that make up Black America. Most of Sanders's faux pas regarding race in Ameri ...more
This year I started teaching a class of Seniors. It had long been a goal, and now I got to do it. I wanted to create as much of a collegiate simulacrum as I could. So I brewed up some lectures and led each week of instruction, discussion and reflection around a prominent theme in literature generally--with specific attention paid to African-American experiences (slightly awkward for a transparently white guy to do for a class full of black kids). And to guide my lecture creation and thematic dev ...more
Jan 08, 2013 Bette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book with Mr. Robinson's personal experiences and insights during the Civil Rights Era interwoven within it. This is a book you have to read more than once I think. This is because of the times we live in and vitriol that is everywhere in American society today it could very well be considered a living document -- given the accomplishments and ongoing work of Mr. Robinson at the Washington Post. The book offers the thesis/premise that Black America is now divided into four groups: the ...more
Apr 16, 2011 Cooley42 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eugene Robinson's conception of a Black community that once was united through racial segregation (but socially and economically integrated) and which is now splintered or disintegrated puts into words what so many of us have observed. This is an easy to read, easy to understand book full of many of the ideas that Mr. Robinson has presented in his Washington Post column. I have found myself quoting this book many times over the past two months. However, the problems of the Abandoned - which will ...more
Lori Kincaid
I thought Robinson did a pretty good job of detailing how we got to a disintegrated black America and what those component parts are now. I don't understand why he lumped folks who are biracial together with immigrants. I understand that both groups do not fit the socio-economic categories which exist (rich/Transcendent, middle class/Mainstream and lower or underclass/Abandoned), but from my vantage point (as a pasty white, upper middle class woman), they are very different groups. And I believe ...more
I admire Eugene Robinson. He's a lucid writer, a voice of reason, and one of the only syndicated columnists I read in our local paper. And although he doesn't come right out and write it, he probably falls into the transcendent group of African-Americans who wield power in the era of Oprah and Obama.

Still, I was a bit disappointed in Disintegration, because I couldn't quite figure out its purpose. Which doesn't mean that I'm not discussing it with kith and kin, so maybe that's purpose enough. In
Oct 15, 2013 Robin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"There was a time when there were agreed-upon 'black leaders,' when there was a clear 'black agenda,' when we could talk confidently about 'the state of black America' - but not anymore" (p.4)

Mainstream - middle-class
"The other is 'two worlds' reality - the fact that we tend to keep so much of the black Mainstream experience to ourselves" (p.99).

Abandoned - poor
"The web of restraints that keeps Abandoned black Americans from escaping into the middle class has been examined from every angle, des
Jonathan Jackson
Jun 13, 2013 Jonathan Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for a class on Post-Blackness this past semester. Eugene Robinson gives an itneresting these about the current space that Black America is in, and how different divisions have left it splintered in a variety of ways. The Four groups he talks about are:

a Mainstream middle-class majority who are entrenched in American society

• a large, Abandoned minority who are stuck in the cycle of poverty with less hope of escaping than b

• a small Transcendent elite - think Oprah, Sean Carter,
May 28, 2013 Eddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
"Who we are depends on who we believe we are." - Chpt. 7

In his book, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Eugene Robinson, proposes that the once monolithic Black America has been fractionalized into four distinct groups:

1) The Abandoned. These are the marginalized, the poor, the working poor and the disenfranchised; think those trapped on rooftops during Hurricane Katrina. These are the Black Americans who are stuck in a generational cycle of welf
May 15, 2013 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brainy
The book started off well, with a lot of context for the 4 types of 'black' in america today, and some historical context for the problems of being black beyond slavery (like jim crow laws and such). I enjoyed that part of the book.

And there was a lot on how far they've come, and the elite and that was interesting too.

Then the abandoned~~ that's sad. But gets weird when even middle class blacks cannot relate or don't know how/or don't want to get involved to solve the problem- themselves move aw
Jacob Phillips
Eugene Robinson sets out to explore the fracturing of the black community in the US, from a unified group during the civil rights era to four separate groups of black people today: the poor, the middle class, the rich and/or famous, and the burgeoning immigrant and mixed race group.

The best passages are the ones in which Robinson, a writer for the Washington Post, tells the history of the black communities in cities like Washington DC and Atlanta. Least interesting was Robinson's editorializing
Matthew Griffiths
Mar 22, 2013 Matthew Griffiths rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging discussion about the continuing phenomena of race in America. The authors central argument being that there is no longer a black america in the same way there was during the jim crow era of american history and that instead there are several versions of black america that differ significantly.

The book raises important questions about whether there is a continuing need for affirmative action in the US and how current policies could be improved so that they benefit those whose position
Jun 29, 2011 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Robinson effectively sets the scene of the fracturing of "black America" from one cohesive Civil Rights Era movement into what he sees today as 4 "black" Americas. The country has been evolving socially, economically, and politically since the beginnings of overcoming our race-based issues. Mr. Robinson writes about the steps that have been taken and resulted in the election of the son of an African immigrant who married a white woman from Kansas as president of the United States.

This is a
Janastasia Whydra
True the book's title, "Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America," discusses the division of what was once considered a unified black America. Eugene Robinson brings research, history, and anecdotes throughout the entire text. It was interesting to see another perspective on the differences between black people, emphasizing while some had 'made it' and others have not and the hypocritical beliefs regarding Affirmative Action within the different tiers of black society. Which brings me to ...more
This author does a good job of provoking the reader to understand that the concept of One Black America no longer exists. He takes the reader through a travel in time to unveil how the beloved Black America has split into four distinctive parts. The author mentions the rise and fall of certain neighborhoods, as a way to help the reader connect. However, he dwells on the details of some of these neighborhoods and the ins and outs of the people who occupy them for too long, which lost my interest. ...more
Jan 03, 2012 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While it reads more like an extended Op-Ed than a book, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson's survey of contemporary black America is a perceptive and thoughtful book. I found it laced with a strange nostalgia for Jim Crow-era black society, but given what the end of that forced solidarity has meant for those African-Americans he labels the Abandoned, perhaps that nostalgia is understandable, and maybe even forgivable. Some of his prescriptions on how best to resolve the plight of the Aban ...more
Jan 06, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library_books
The background on the four Black Americas was quite interesting (the "well written" part's a given), though I had trouble with his concluding piece. From a technical (debating) sense, Robinson does a good job laying out his defense of the continuation of affirmative action programs; well-stated though it was, I took away that he'll likely never let go of the idea, given his background. I think the most interesting point for me was his section on The Abandoned (poor and uneducated), wherein he as ...more
Dec 01, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it
Eugene Robinson, columnist for the Washington Post, presents an interesting thesis on make up of Black America at the same time bring the reader up to date on the last 60 years regarding race relations. One thing becomes clear in this book; race in this country is no longer just a matter of black & white. The growth of other minority groups, the recent immigration of families from Asia, Central America, Mexico and the Middle East, have made the issue more complex. There is also the matter of ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Hannah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thorough and insightful. I appreciated the broader view of what is a very complex issue. While I don't think the book completely exhausts all the challenges, it did a great job of objectively covering many of the struggles we face in modern America.
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Disintegration. 1 7 Nov 22, 2012 02:07PM  
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