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Race Matters

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  5,445 ratings  ·  189 reviews
In this essay collection, many of which have previously appeared in journals, West, the director of Afro-American studies at Princeton & author of several books, addresses a number of issues of concern to black Americans: the LA riots after the Rodney King verdict; Malcolm X; Clarence Thomas & Anita Hill; & black street life. These topics are all timely yet tim ...more
Paperback, 175 pages
Published March 29th 1994 by Vintage/Random House (NY) (first published 1993)
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Race Matters, published originally in 1993, is a book of its time, but also greatly applicable to 2011. Cornel West writes a series of essays covering the topics that most affect African-Americans in American culture, such as identity, gender, despair, sexuality, black-Jewish relations, how the political left and right have attempted to bring repair and how they have fallen short, the effects both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X had on the black community and where the African-American comm ...more
Becky Moore
For three years, I worked as the grantwriter and public affairs officer for the, an organization supporting North Carolinians living with HIV/AIDS. My great friend and colleague, who is very active in her sorority (the Delta's), and I used to have great philosophical discussions--in our line of work, it was necessary to try and learn as much about people of all different walks of life. The more we learned and could understand, the better we were able to serve the community. So we would ...more
Cornel West would probably not be offended if I pointed out that he doesn't quite have the literary talent of a W.E.B. Dubois... Who does? He doesn't have the fiery character of a Malcolm X. He comes across as someone sure of his ideas, but humble as an individual. His ideas are clear and generally well expressed, though his presentation does have a kind of dry style, like an academic essay assignment. The book does not have the kind of rigor to qualify as an analysis, and this isn't really phil ...more
i picked this up out of curiosity, i did not know much about cornel west. i was under the impression he was a scholar. i'm no scholar, but i know one when i read one. i do not believe this book contains much research, nor do i believe it had anything particularly profound or scholarly. the best i read in it was the way cornel west sometimes strings words/sentences together in a rhythm. other than that, he cannot hold a candle to the likes of frederick douglass, booker t. washington, or (to cover ...more
Jul 05, 2008 Zalman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in background of racial politics in the US
I read this book back in 1994, and thought West was right on target most of the time. The essays were written in plain language, rather than the jargon of political theory; I liked that they were also free of inflated hyperbole and attempts to boil down complex problems to trite slogans. Moderate, conciliatory, and thoughtful, West ably dissects superficial thinking and hypocrisy on both the right and left side of the political spectrum. Of course much of this material, written in the late 80s a ...more
A sharp and eloquent book, marred by a few loose arguments here and there. West is dead-on about many things, patiently and carefully laying out volatile issues and explaining approaches to improve them. Since this is a collection of essays, basically, some will obviously interest you more than others, but they're all worth reading and mulling over. The only weak points come at some moments in his reasoning, at which he substitutes a pat conclusion or an unsourced claim for a more carefully plan ...more
I wish I knew more about social justice and the context in which West writes. I sense this to be an insightful work by a brilliant man but am not fully able to grasp its profundity.

What I get here is that race does indeed matter. Especially in discussions of race. While seemingly obvious, apparently this point is not as commonly accepted or widely appreciated at it seems it would be, or should be.

Definitely worth another read at some point.

A lot of great, general, indisputable truths about being black that you (if you consciously think about race) have probably wondered, contemplated or, better yet, discussed with others.

Also a great number of truths about how the political sphere affect Black livelihood, especially that of the disadvantaged/poor. As someone who has always hungered to dig more into politics and how it affects (Black) American life, but cannot handle for too long the purposely incomprehensibly deceptive gibber-gab
Tylor Lovins
This is the first Cornel West book I have read, and, in fact, it is the first piece I have read fully on the issue of race. As a white person, spending my formative years in a overwhemingly small white town, I was not exposed much to race issues. There was some mention of slavery, but it was something that was well in the past, America having progressed since the Civil Rights movement. In high school American history courses were largely focused on American foreign affairs--especially American w ...more
Dec 16, 2008 Aaron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: igdi
Cornel West touches on all things concerning the black community. From the lack of strong leadership since the civil rights movement to misogyny and sexuality to relations with jews to homosexuality he applies his philosophy that america's increasing emphasis on capitalism has contributed to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in the black community. His comments are even-handed and all-encompassing as he discusses the state of america with respect to blacks in the wake of the LA riots foll ...more
I so wish I was close enough to Princeton to be able to take a course or two of his there - although I hear he is moving to Union Theological Seminary soon to teach there.

Race Matters is a series of lectures exposing and criticizing the moral ethics of racism and many other isms that run side by side with racism.

The beginning story from Cornel West's real life experience in preparing this book for publication says it all. Nothing trumps the lived experience. As Bob Marley said - who feels it kno
Seward Park Branch Library, NYPL
It’s remarkable how much ground that Cornel West is able to cover in the all-too-brief ‘Race Matters’, published in the wake of the Los Angeles riots in 1993.

Although this little book speaks on diverse topics ranging from affirmative action, to black sexuality, to black and jewish relations, there are definitely some salient themes which manifest in every chapter, namely that the question of race is not a question of race alone, but a *moral* question, an *American* question. These essays are no
Andrew Fairweather
It’s remarkable how much ground that Cornel West is able to cover in the all-too-brief ‘Race Matters’, published in the wake of the Los Angeles riots in 1993.

Although this little book speaks on diverse topics ranging from affirmative action, to black sexuality, to black and jewish relations, there are definitely some salient themes which manifest in every chapter, namely that the question of race is not a question of race alone, but a *moral* question, an *American* question. These essays are no
Cornell continues to be one of the most brave, and poignant intellectual freedom fighters of our time. People from every background must read this and re-start discussions about morality, race, and the future of humanity in these two contexts. Cornell's discussion is intense and thought provoking, and is needed now more than ever as each generation becomes increasing disconnected the struggle for equality [that continues today:] and forget upon whose shoulders we stand today---Well written.
Cornel West is my hero. This book is an interesting read 15+ years after it was written. All the issues West addresses are still relevant today, but some in slightly different ways.

This book was West's wake-up call to America at the time, presented with a scholarly-bound-love that has become West's calling card.

The challenges and analysis presented are worthy of review now, to see where we've gone since then and where we may be going in terms of race-relations in America.
This was a book that I obtained after I had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Cornel West. He is a breathtaking speaker and writer. Although this book is an older one - it is essential for those who are taking a closer look at Race within the United States and how it continues to be a challenge for those who are discriminated against. This book was inspiring and engaging! In my opinion, a must read for older high school students/college students.
I love Cornell West primarily because I admire his use of language. The difficulty with this book is that as it progresses the theme doesn't grow and become either more complex and encompassing or examined and revealed at it's most basic levels. Each chapter seems to me to be a rehash of the previous chapter.

However, the topic is so important and West's ability to structure an argument makes it an important if somewhat studied read.
This book is quite emotionally challenging. West talks very honestly about race and its impact in the United States. Unfortunately, it is a truth that many are not wiling to hear. I greatly appreciated West's honesty, even when it made me uncomfortable. Although the entire book is quite powerful, i found myself particularly taken by the last chapter -- particularly the end of the last chapter -- and the epilogue.
I feel like this should be required reading in high schools. Race in America is this thing that can be incredibly frustrating and difficult to get a handle on. After reading this book I was less confused but even more frustrated, and I think that's the point. Argh. (And the drug arrest statistic really hit me hard after the tutoring I've been doing in prison.)
Chuck Landvatter
Absolutely my favorite book by one of my favorite thinkers. I'm going to have to reread this to give it a fair review, but I will say that the way Dr. West is able to simplify and elucidate such convoluted topics as racial and social structures is uncanny. If you have a hard time articulating such topics, I would suggest Cornel West.
It is pretty much impossible to get a handle on the idea of race and its implications in the United States without reading Cornel West. He is by far the most eloquent and erudite people who walk the earth. He's funny, poignant, and above all hopeful about a brotherhood which, not yet extant, is still within our reach.
Great overview of West's genius when it comes to understanding race and how it effects all of us. Easy and accessible, this book is a must-read for those grasping to understand today's society and how to create progress. Quick read, but I can't promise it won't make you want to read more of his work.
Written over 15 years ago to "revitalize our public conversation about race", the arguments and opinions still seem as valid today for a country which now has a black president, but looking from the outside, seems a land of uneven opportunities along race and class lines.
Very excellent book. I thoroughly enjoyed West's insight and was a great book to read around this last election. A must read for anyone who is interested in sociology, multiculturalism, or anyone who desires a discussion on people of color by a person of color.
Was excited to read the guy who was so inspirational to bell hooks, but while he had some good stuff to say, it wasn't earth shattering.
"The implication is that only certain Americans can define what it means to be American-the rest must simply 'fit in'" p. 6-7
What a great book on race relations. Cornell West is an extremely interesting man and I think I would of loved to have been a student of his. If you are interested in diversity specifically pertaining towards race then you should read this book.
This short book comprises a series of essays on race in America, circa 1993. It's a bit dated in its topicality (references to Rodney King, Anita Hill, etc.), but overall still quite relevant. I found West to be quite sensible and smart.
This book with the double entendre for a title really speaks to matters of race that are of great significance not just in America but in this global society and speaks as to why race does and should matter. I highly recommend it
West is a progressive. He confronts both left and right on their takes on racial politics. He comes out of the same tradition as MLK--black, leftist, pacifist Christianity. Good ideas and a good read.
good flow, clear and concise arguments, insightful and for the most part coherent, but sometimes the logic starts the unravel a bit (or maybe i'm just not digesting all of it), written well and with conviction
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Cornel Ronald West is an American scholar and public intellectual. Formerly at Harvard University, West is currently a professor of Religion at Princeton. West says his intellectual contributions draw from such diverse traditions as the African American Baptist Church, Marxism, pragmatism, transcendentalism, and Anton Chekhov.
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“My aim is not to provide excuses for black behavior or to absolve blacks of personal responsibility. But when the new black conservatives accent black behavior and responsibility in such a way that the cultural realities of black people are ignored, they are playing a deceptive and dangerous intellectual game with the lives and fortunes of disadvantaged people. We indeed must criticize and condemn immoral acts of black people, but we must do so cognizant of the circumstances into which people are born and under which they live. By overlooking these circumstances, the new black conservatives fall into the trap of blaming black poor people for their predicament. It is imperative to steer a course between the Scylla of environmental determinism and the Charybdis of a blaming-the-victims perspective.

“Of course, the aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and avoid the tyranny of the majority. (p. 102)” 23 likes
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