African American Self Sabotage - in Depth Analysis of Losing the Race by John Mcwhorter

Topics: Black people, African American, African American Vernacular English Pages: 9 (3195 words) Published: March 30, 2008
In Losing the Race, John McWhorter speaks about the “disease of defeatism that has infected black America.” In the novel he explores in detail three aspects of modern day black American cultural mentality, or "cults," that hold African Americans back. First, is the Cult of Victimology. In it, victimhood has been transformed “from a problem to be solved into an identity in itself.” Then there is the Cult of Separatism, in this cult, the uniqueness of our history is used as a justification to exempt us from the rules that govern the rest of American society. While in the Cult of Anti-Intellectualism, an affinity toward education is seen as running counter to an "authentic" black identity. In trying to explain these three cancerous aspects of black American cultural groupthink, McWhorter also addresses how these three “cults” have led African Americans down a destructive path of self-sabotage thus birthing such damages as Affirmative Action and Ebonics. McWhorter believes that blacks are suffering from a “cultural virus” which has made them “their own worst enemies in the struggle for success.” Booker T. Washington once said, "There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs." This statement exemplifies one of the problems with African Americans. Often individuals will call attention to the hardships that they (or their ancestors) have endured as a means of fostering and nurturing “an unfocused brand of resentment and sense of alienation” rather than for forging solutions. According to McWhorter, Victimology stems from a lethal combination of an “inherited inferiority complex with the privilege of dressing down the former oppressor”, and so African Americans find it necessary to highlight the inadequacies of others in order to detract attention from the inadequacies within themselves. It is this cultural insecurity that causes the African American race to “downplay and detract attention from its victories” and to uphold a conviction “that forty years after the Civil Rights Act, the conditions for blacks have not changed substantially enough to mention.” Despite having under 25 percent of black Americans living in poverty, a 200 percent increase from 1960 to 1990 in the amount of black professionals such as doctors and lawyers, over 41 black congressmen in 1995, 15.4 percent of blacks obtaining college degrees compared to the previous 5.4 percent, and black-white relationships becoming so common that they no longer arouse comment, many believe that there has been a “steady erosion of the Civil Rights victories.” Often, African Americans dismiss such advancements due to their inability to see past their resentment for “whitey” which are constantly fueled by the Articles of Faith. In the novel, McWhorter addresses the Articles of Faith as the foundation of Victimology, as they are fallacies that have been accepted by African Americans as godly truths. The Articles of Faith perpetuate the belief in blacks that racism is still omnipresent and on the rise. Since the Articles of Faith have now become a vital part of a black person’s higher education, it’s no wonder that African American youths, such as 7 year old Autumn Ashante who wrote the poem "White Nationalism Put U In Bondage”, who have “never remotely known the world that spawned victimology” would conceive themselves as victims irregardless of their actual experiences. African American victimology is able to survive because it is, ironically, “a luxury of widened opportunities”, however because of the focus of attention being directed to the obstacles and barriers blacks face, the performance to tackle and eradicated these problems becomes hampered. The Black American community is obsessed with celebrating victimhood instead of addressing it, and so is crippling itself...

Bibliography: McWhorter, John. H. Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in Black America
New York: The Free Press, 2000.
Success: Coping with the Burden of ‘Acting White,’” Urban Review 18 (1986)
Froomkin, Dan: Affirmative Action Under Attack
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