Eugene Robinson at Politics & Prose, Washington DC
In this, his third book, Robinson argues that the African-American community in the 21st century is one that defies straightforward categorization. It is becoming increasingly disparate in terms of socioeconomic status, worldview and geography, and these divisions are exacerbating internal tensions.
Throughout the last century the challenges facing black Americans were easier to define with disenfranchisement widespread and obvious to all observers. Similarly, the action required to improve affairs was clearer: de facto and de jure conferral of all civil rights previously denied or limited. However, such changes were much more difficult to implement than to merely identify as necessary. There was, though, a shared purpose amongst civil rights activists and private citizens that fostered unity in the black community and forged a common identity, since progress was only possible if each person’s interests were aligned with his neighbor’s.
As time passed, social and legal advancements were achieved but with them came unintended side-effects. Robinson posits that one of these side-effects was a fragmentation of the black community into four groups; an immensely wealthy and influential elite, a mainstream middle-class, an abandoned minority whose future prospects are bleak, and recent black immigrants and those with mixed-race background. The book examines each of these groups and their relationships with each other and the world-at-large.
Eugene Robinson has worked for the Washington Post in various capacities for the last thirty years, and is a frequent guest on MSNBC where he provides political commentary. He will be speaking about his book and career at Politics & Prose bookstore (5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW) on Monday, November, 22nd. The event is free and starts at 7pm. For more information, visit the store’s website.