Welcome Ellis Cose and Host Juan Gonzalez, (website)

The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage

Host, Juan Gonzalez:

Thank you, Ellis Cose, my former colleague at the New York Daily News, for this wonderful book. For those who do not know him, Ellis has long been one of our era’s most insightful and original chroniclers of the evolution of race relations in America. His latest book, The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage, tackles the widespread notion that Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency signaled the start of a post-racial period in our nation’s history.

Something has indeed changed in race relations, Ellis concludes. There is less anger and rage, more hope and faith toward the future among African Americans of all income levels than there has ever been; more willingness by most white Americans to regard their fellow black citizens on an equal footing. This is especially true among the younger generations within both groups.

But those optimistic perceptions are colliding against the facts on the ground: increasing economic inequality and a rapidly growing wealth gap, between rich and poor as well between black and white. So while life is certainly incomparably better today for what W.E.B. Dubois labeled the “talented tenth” in the black community, the profound problems faced by the black poor and the black working class have gotten worse. Leaders of both major political parties seem intent on ignoring the deep anger among Americans over the growing class divide.

Ellis bases his conclusions on large in-depth surveys of two groups – one of black Harvard MBA’s and the other of graduates of a program that for nearly 40 years has been providing elite educational opportunities to people of color. He supplements the survey with in-depth personal interviews he has conducted with an astonishing number of African Americans in politics, academia, and the business world. As the consummate journalist that he is, Ellis uses those poignant interviews to sketch a cohesive portrait of the various strands of the contemporary black experience.

His most important thesis, it seems to me, is in delineating the sharp contrast in outlook toward race relations between three major generational groups in the black community. He calls those groups the Fighters (those born before 1944), the Dreamers (those born between 1945 and 1979), and the Believers (those born between 1970 and 1995); while he categorizes their counterparts among white Americans as the Hostiles, the Neutrals, and the Allies.

He makes a convincing case that generational differences are far more important in determining views of race than we realize. But since his in-depth interviews were conducted largely among educated, professional blacks (he does include a small group of ex-prison inmates), it is not quite clear that similar generational divides hold true for the entire black community or for white Americans.

Nonetheless, his exquisite vignettes and his eloquent accounts of the lives and thoughts of so many African Americans who overcame racial discrimination and became success stories truly inspires hope for the nation we are becoming.

89 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Ellis Cose, The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage”

BevW August 27th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Ellis, Juan, Welcome to the Lake.

Juan, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 2:01 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Thanks, Bev for asking me to do this, and welcome to Ellis

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Hello all and thanks, Juan, for hosting this salon on this day of interesting weather.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Hi Juan. Great to have you here

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 3

Yes, we’ve hunkered down for this hurricane and are ready to go.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

And thanks for the very generous introduction

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Ellis, can you start by sharing with us the biggest surprise for you in doing the interviews for this book, compared to your interviews for Rage of a Privileged Class?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

My biggest surprise was how differently respondents of different generations replied to question having to do with the glass ceiling and with race and the workplace in general. The younger responders were markedly more upbeat.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Younger respondents also reported fundamentally different experiences in terms of discrimination

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 9

Such as?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 10

Younger African American respondents were much less likely to report that they had encountered discrimination in the workplace; and they were also less likely to feel that, even if they had encountered discrimination, that it had fundamentally affected their careers. Older respondents, in contrast, felt overwhelmingly that they had encountered serious discrimination in the workplace and that it had had a profound effect on what they had been able to accomplish.

Kelly Canfield August 27th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 9

Very interesting – did you find a specific “break point” in age, so to say?

That, for instance those of age 30 +/- 2 years, therefore born between ’79 and ’83 were the most prime for positive?

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 11

But you also quote Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP and one of that younger generation, talking about the “Random black man” vs. the “known” black man syndrome, where many whites still harbor stereotypical views of black men in general but not of those they know. You also note the continued anxiety especially among the professional black men you interviewed about how police and others in authority regard their sons. Why has there been so little progress in this area of police vs. young black males?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 12

I ended up creating a generation taxonomy that reflected my research results. I essentially divided people into three generations: those born before 1945, those born between 1945 and 1969, and those born between 1970 and 1995. The first group I called The Fighters, the second group i labeled The Dreamers, and the third group The Believers–a refleciton of their different approach and experiences.

greenbell August 27th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Well, one my baseless theories is that MBAs, and most especially, Ivy League MBAs, are largely responsible for what is wrong with this country so it would not surprise me that black MBAs aren’t much different. Of course, they aren’t angry! The rest of us are angry!

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:17 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 13

Yes, that was very interesting. Even though younger professional African Americans reported a different experience on the job, they had precisely the same unhappy encounters with discrimination on the street. In other words, they were just as likely as the older blacks to say they had been unfairly hassled by police or ignored by taxi drivers or followed around shops

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to greenbell @ 15

That’s an interesting assumption. But one reason I undertook this project was my curiousity about a range of polls, from Pew, to Gallup, to Harris, the Washington Post, and others, showing that blacks in general were much more optimistic than we have been in some time. But I take your point, black Harvard MBAs, who were one of the groups I studied, had very good reason to be upbeat. Still, even the older Harvard MBAS were not very happy with their experience in the workplace. So its not just about having a Harvard MBA

Teddy Partridge August 27th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

This looks like a terrific book. Also, thanks for the great introduction. Can you tell us how this view of the privileged black success stories compares to Eugene Robinson’s ‘Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America’? He takes W.E.B. Dubois’s concept of the Talented Tenth and teases our current situation into some enlightening strata.

Like poor and disaffected Americans everywhere, the black lower class seems to have less in common with their fellow African-Americans and more in common with the least fortunate among us regardless of race.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

In some sense, older black Harvard MBAs were particularly angry because they felt (many of them, anyway) that they had never been allowed to shine.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I now Eugene Robinson and am very familiar with his book. Robinson essentially focuses on classes and class distinctions in the black community. I focus more on generations, particularly since the majority of those I studied for this book belong to what would generally be called the upper middle class. But yes, my respondents essentially agreed that they had more in common with white middle class people than they did with the black poor. This is the same thing that Pew found when it asked a similar question a few years back. I think what that means is that the sense of shared fate that blacks have shared in the past is weakening.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

None of this, I should add, implies that race has disappeared as a factor in people’s lives. But how much of a factor it is and how that plays out has changed

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 20

But you also note that the optimism of the “Believer” generation has hit up against growing wealth inequity, and some of that inequity is not strictly class-based. You have, for example, the home mortgage crisis that you address in Chapter 7 – where millions of blacks and Hispanics, were often targeted and deliberately victimized by unscrupulous lenders. Those communities have been disproportionately stripped of the little equity or wealth they had in their homes – and that will affect not only their the status, but what they will leave to their children to inherit.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 22

Absolutely right. The subprime crisis did target blacks and Latinos who had homes or equity, and it left many of them a great deal worse off. Indeed, what we know from research in various quarters, is that the black and Latino middle class is much more fragile than the Anglo middle class, largely because of the lack of assets and intergenerational wealth. The Harvard MBAS, however, are not among those who are likely to fall out of the middle class any time soon. Some 30% of them had a household income of $400,000 a year; that puts not just in the middle class, but in the elite upper middle class. So we are talking about different groups, in some sense, when we use the term middle class.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I am worried not so much about Harvard MBAS but about working middle class people, who are catching hell these days,

BevW August 27th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 24

Ellis, mentioning the middle class, what percentage are union members? Is this equal with other races?

Knut August 27th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

It strikes me that the fear and rage are now being directed at poor people more generally rather than just the subgroups constituted by Blacks and Hispanics. I have just returned from spending a week in an ungated gated community in WA, where people are putting up chain link fences to keep out poor people rumored to be camping out in the woods next door. Out of sight, but not out of mind.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:35 pm
In response to BevW @ 25

That’s a good question. It was not part of my research, so I don’t have the answer to that. We do know, of course, that the percentage of people who are union has been declining. And that is obviously true for people of color as well as for whites. But I don’t happen to know the percentage off the top of my head.

Kelly Canfield August 27th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 23

How about a geographical spread to your surveys – does that play a role?

For instance, I traveled about widely over the MidWest and Western states for a pre-paid phone carrier, visiting stores and customers, and the customer base we served was “sub-prime” economically.

What I saw in St Louis in terms of neighborhoods with concrete abutments at the end of streets such that police could easily set up checkpoints for ingress/egress was something I did NOT see, say in Phoenix.

Surely artifacts like that would play a role in attitudes.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to BevW @ 25

I think we are at a moment in our society where there is a lot of anger. The Tea Party clearly embodies as aspect of that. And other right wing groups do as well. I believe a large part of that anger comes from a sense that America is changing in away that makes some folks uncomfortable. We are increasingly Latino and we have a black president. And we happen to be going through an economic meltdown. That together fuels a lot of resentment about immigration as well as this desire to “take back” America. In addition to that, we have a lot of policy measures being considered that clearly are hostile to poor people

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Knut @ 26

Can you envision the possibility, Ellis, that the divide between upper class affluent blacks and poor blacks becomes so great that the affluent sectors, too, could establish gated communities to seal themselves off, or is too far-fetched?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 28

I’m not quite sure what you mean by geographical spread. But clearly geography played a big role in the subprime crises. Residential segregation made it easy for banks to target certain zip codes with particular products.

Knut August 27th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 20

I think what that means is that the sense of shared fate that blacks have shared in the past is weakening.

That is a critical observation. We are beginning to see the same thing emerging in Quebec, as the generation that benefited from the ‘Quiet Revolution’ in education and language passes the reins to their children, who have not experienced the same kind of discrimination. For the first time in 60 years there is a chance that a very conservative party may take power within the next one or two election cycles. The effort to split the French-Canadian elite from the ordinary working classes is being financed by the usual corporate suspects. So far the unity has held. I think there are parallels here in Black experience, and more generally in white working class experience.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 30

Not in just that way. But what I can envision, and what is clearly happening, is that some blacks, with the financial means, are joining whites in existing gated communities. What we seeing, for the first time, is a black upper middle class that essentially has the means to live pretty much wherever it wants. And that is just one indication among many that the fracturing of the black community is real. At the same time, even most affluent blacks have some members of their family who are poor and still living in the so-called ghetto. SO those links are not totally vanishing.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Knut @ 32

I think you are right. All groups who experience upward mobility go through some version of this, I suspect. Because blacks, for so long, were essentially from moving up very far, we have seen less of this in the black community. BUt, as I said, that seems to be changing.

Kelly Canfield August 27th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 31

Sorry, I didn’t express myself clearly. I’m not talking about redlining and the money folks.

I’m asking about your surveys; you made an age taxonomy. Did you make a geographic one?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

i meant to write “prohibited from moving up very far”

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 35

Oh, I see. I do have the geographical information. I have not yet done data runs to try to make coherent sense out of it. I plan to do that at some point in the next few months.

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 29

You mentioned the Tea Party and the anger about immigration, but I noted that in the book you say little about the transformation of racial conflicts in the nation from the historical black-white to and Native American-white to more complicated issues of how white society and even black society view the country’s increasing Asian and Latino population, and their impact on race relations. Certainly, white anger at undocumented immigrants seems at an unusually high tide these days.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 38

Yes, you’re right, it was not a major part of the book at all. But it is clear that the black-white conflict is not the only, or perhaps even the paramount, conflict these days. We have religious issues that have come to the fore, in the wake, of course, of 9/11. And we have seen many instances of both conflict and also of cooperations between blacks and Latinos. We have a much more complicated set of hostilities these days. And I think civil rights activists are struggling with how to get their collective heads around that.

Jane Hamsher August 27th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Thanks so much for being here today Ellis, and thanks to Juan for hosting.

This is very interesting:

So while life is certainly incomparably better today for what W.E.B. Dubois labeled the “talented tenth” in the black community, the profound problems faced by the black poor and the black working class have gotten worse.

It implies that there is an “insider vs. outsider” dynamic in the African American community that echoes the greater dynamic of the nation, as wealth continues to be channeled upward towards elites, whose interests dominate the political system.

Do you see tension between the two groups, especially as unemployment and economic privation continue to devastate the African American community disproportionately?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 40

Sure, I think there will be some tension–particularly in the political arena, as this new generation of black politicians tries to figure out whose interests they are speaking to. But I suspect the larger tensions will not be intra-racial. They were tensions between the interests of the haves and those of the havenots. For wealth,c learly, is not just being channeled to black elites, it is being channeled to elites, period. That is not much of a basis for a cohesive society.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

You did see some of those tensions in the governor’s race in Alabama, when Artur Davis, a black Harvard law school graduate, was widely seeing as not representing the interests of poor blacks.

RevBev August 27th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 41

Do you see signs of the elites being concerned, responsive< trainable? Or even aware of the source of the tension?

BevW August 27th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 42

Is this the same as we see with Rep. Allen West, FL? Who is he representing?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to RevBev @ 43

Yes, there are many signs of this. As I noted, most blacks who are now members of the so-called elite have family members who are not. So there is, in most cases, some remaining connection to those who lack privilege. Certainly, in my surveys of Harvard MBAS (most of whom started out middle class), and also of graduates of A Better Chance (most of whom started out poor), there were many expressions of alarm over the nation we are becoming in the sense of this growing class divide.

Kelly Canfield August 27th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to BevW @ 44

Beat me to it.

And what about Clyburn’s wishy-washiness on the social saftey net?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to BevW @ 44

Allen West represents a largely white district, and was put into office by conservative whites. So he is in a bit of a different position than Davis, whose district was a predominantly poor and black district, and who would be representing a state with a large African American population. But I think the larger point is that both of these guys are breaks with the past idea of a black political representative.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

My response would be much the same as it was to some of the past questions. Color loyality is not what it once was–and I think that is both a bad and a good thing.

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 45

I was most struck by your generational divide thesis. You quote, for example, Sara Scott, the 52-year-old executive and mother of two Gen 3 “Believers,, who says her children “understand [racism] intellectually, but they don’t get it emotionally because they haven’t endured as much.” It’s almost as if you can plot the variables of generation and increased wealth to approximately predict the level of distance between the black upper classes and the black working class.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 49

I do think that is true. We have now, for the first time, a substantial number of African Americans who were raised by middle class parents in largely white or integrated communities. We also have a very large African American population being raised in segregated and very poor communities. There experiences are so different, for the most part, that they don’t have a whole lot in common.

Peterr August 27th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 41

I’m not finished with the book, but the question that keeps going through my mind is why did you focus so much on two surveys of high achieving groups (Harvard and ABC), rather than surveys that included respondents of all classes?

To me, this lessen your ability to make claims that span the breadth of classes. It’s a bit problematic when you say “a new generation’s take on rage and race” in the subtitle but base your work so much on one privileged portion of that new generation and not a wider cohort.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

They also don’t have a lot in common with their parents, in terms of what they had to go through. So it makes for a very interesting dynamic.

Kelly Canfield August 27th, 2011 at 3:11 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 48

Color loyality is not what it once was–and I think that is both a bad and a good thing.

Well, it’s hard to deny anymore that the one color loyalty that matters is “green.”

Got some? Good to go. Otherwise, not so much.

How do you expect that to play out? Aside from doing your geographic data runs, did you/will you put that question to your interviewees, and what do you think shakes out of that?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

The reason I surveyed two high-performing groups is quite simple. I was not out to do a general book on black America. One of my objectives was to update a previous book, The Rage of a Privileged Class, which looked specifically at high-performing African Americans. The only way to update that was to look at another generation of high-performing African Americans. That being said, the book draws on a lot more than just the two surveys I conducted. I make liberal use of surveys conducted by others, which look at a broader population. I also conducted my own small survey of people who had spent time in prison. So to sum up. I was not out to do a book on all African Americans. It has a particular point of departure. And I welcome others to build on my research and see how broadly they think the analysis can go.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 53

We did get at that question somewhat in some of the follow-up interviews that we did. But I am not currently polling; so will not be adding new questions to the survey instrument–at least not any time soon. How will it play out? It think it will play out in a fairly predictable way–that you will see people acting, in large measure, in what they consider to be their economic self-interest.

RevBev August 27th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

The Black church used to be a very uniting force. Do you look at any of the Black congregations associated with the groups you studied?

Peterr August 27th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 54

The subtitle of the book (“A New Generation . . .”) seems to suggest it was a look at all African-Americans. That’s what made me wonder.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to RevBev @ 56

I did not look specifically at church groups. I did note that a large number of my respondents indicated that they were affiliated with churches. An interesting thing about the black church is that the allegiance can play out in interesting ways. Going back to the subprime crisis, for instance, many people were targeted through their churches. Bankers specifically reached out to black ministers in order to recruit victims. But the very fact that they did that does say that the black church remains an important force in many black communities.

papau August 27th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 41

“I suspect the larger tensions will not be intra-racial.” – I hope that is true.

I agree with your observations and indeed I do know of high-achieving Afro-Americans with anger against the system – post 1964 – that they see letting them through, but not adequately, while denying others the same success or more, as reason for great anger – an anger not so visible in their children.

But “victim-hood” and “needed affirmative action” is still the driver in black politics, and indeed the Obama vote percentage among blacks argues for the concept of a “black vote” – and not for folks voting for their own interests.

You never claim race based anger has ended – and I agree – but that it is less – and I again agree. I wish it would end as race as a scientific concept can not be proven – just skin color and place of origin tracing as reflected in minor DNA village inbreeding is possible to note scientifically. Indeed race based politics – as in Obama’s call for “group loyalty” – needs to end, but I’m afraid I will not see that end in my lifetime.

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 58

Throughout the book, you show how a critical lever a good education was for the progress among African Americans and Hispanics. That made me curious as to how you see the raging debate in minority communities these day between advocates of sharply increasing the number charter schools and those who say charters are privatizing and undermining pubic education?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I don’t think it necessarily implies that it looks at everyone in those generations. But at least a couple of groups that I am aware of did interviews with young and older blacks in an attempt to see if they could replicate what I had found. The Root website, for instance, sent a camera crew out in Washington and asked random people about my thesis. These people were not MBAS from Harvard. Nonetheless, The Root found the same generational split that I did. So while is is an open question of how widely this anaysis can apply, I think it does go well beyond the two groups that I studied in depth. But, again,that is something for future researchers to weight in on

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to papau @ 59

The Obama vote was a lot of things. It certainly was a lot about people voting for a black man. And given the historical nature of his candidacy, it would have been odd if that did not happen. But it was also about blacks voting for the Democrats. A white Democrat would also have gotten over 90% of the black vote. So several different things were at play.

Peterr August 27th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Back in 2008, one of the political races that got a lot of attention was the primary battle in Maryland’s 4th congressional district between 9 term incumbent Al Wynn and challenger Donna Edwards. The two big strikes against Wynn for many progressives were (a) his vote in favor of the Iraq war, and (b) a stance on economic issues more in tune with the GOP than the Democratic party. From a generational standpoint, it is interesting to note that Edwards had a lot of support from online progressive communities, while Wynn had more traditional backers. In campaign style, Edwards displayed significant anger toward Bush (and by extension, Wynn for backing some of Bush’s policies), which is part of what endeared her to her supporters.

Did you look at this race at all in your book?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 60

I am a firm believer that the only way we are going to make real progress is through a public education system that really educates people well. I have spent enough time in very bad schools in minority communities to know how deep that problem is. I am how, however, opposed to charter schools. I know some that are doing very good work. Many seem to be doing nothing better than the regular public schools. But clearly, however it is done, we need the kind of commitment to general education that goes beyond all of this testing nonsense.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to Peterr @ 63

Sorry to say, I did not look at that race. The End of Anger does look at several political issues, but it was not at attempt to do a wide-ranging analysis of various races around the country. So that is one I did not focus on.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

again a correction. I meant to say, “I am not opposed to charter schools.”

RevBev August 27th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

This would not have been so much of an issue in your research, but have you heard much discussion in Black communities about disappoitment in Obama?

Kelly Canfield August 27th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 66

Wait – really? How can the charter-type solution do anything but un-level the education opportunities further?

That seems entirely counter-intuitive to community stabilizing to me.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to RevBev @ 67

Yes, I have. As you know, his ratings, while still very high, are down among blacks. And many people I interviewed were a bit ambivalent about the impact of his big win. Substantial numbers think it may have made race relations worse. Substantial numbers also believed that it fostered a belief among whites of more racial progress than was the reality. And I am sure you are aware of the recent townhalls that have featured Tavis Smiley and Cornel West speaking out about Obama’s polities. So, yes, there is disappointment in many quarters that he has not been a stronger advocate for certain things.

RevBev August 27th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 69

So, how complicated can it get, huh? Thank you for that picture.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 68

I really don’t think charter school are the reason so many schools in poor communities are horrible. I happen, for instance, to be a product of Chicago and went to one of the most awful schools imaginable until I essentialy tested out and went to a good school for high school. Charter schools did not even exist then. Yet the schools that I and many others were expected to attend were worse than bad. So I really don’t see disconnect between some charter schools operating and regular public schools operating as well. I think the problem lies with the approach to public education in general, including how it is funded, how it is evaluated, and how committed we are to improving it.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to RevBev @ 70

It can get real complicated real fast.

Kelly Canfield August 27th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

To return to the generational front for a moment; did you detect any trends for example about MLK type marches/activities to promote progress?

Were the respondents less interested in those sorts of direct action, more interested?

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 69

As you note in the book, major national polls are showing African Americans overall, not just the talented tenth, are more optimistic about the nation’s future than even white Americans, despite the deep economic crisis. Why do you think that is? Could it perhaps have something to do with the decline of an independent black press, which in prior generations offered a countervailing narrative and analysis?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 72

The marches and protests of the mid-1950s and the 1960s stemmed from a movement (actually a collection of movements) that was rooted in a certain time and place. I am not sure what would happen to essentially replicate that here. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that it is not as clear as it was then what direction action would aim to accomplish. So, while I did not ask specifically about direct action, it clearly was not something forefront in the minds of most of the people I interviwed. At the same time, we do have some really desperate conditions in many parts of this country. And I see no logical reason why creative leadership can’t forge that discontent into a new movement.

RevBev August 27th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 75

Is that what West is trying to do?

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 74

I think a lot of the optimism (which, as I state in the book, seems not really justified by the facts on the ground) stems from the simple fact that many blacks believe that racism has diminished enough that they or their children may actually have a shot at fulfilling their dreams. That is related, clearly, to the election of Obama, but also to lots of other things, which indicate that at least some African Americans, and a growing number, are now allowed to make it to the top. Yes, the black press has been in decline for some time. And that is for a lot of reason. But I don’t think it just the lack of a counter narrative. I think it is rooted more in a sense that many people have that American, as regards race, has changed in some important respects

bigbrother August 27th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

This post helps me understand a lot. Elite is elite that simple. The have nots are not represented as they don’t have the money to elect candidates

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to RevBev @ 76

I think that is part of what West is trying to do. He is certainly trying make people more aware and perhaps to mobolize them as well. But I don’t think he is really about to take on the task of organizing a new movement in America. But then, I cannot speak for Cornel. And I have not asked him what is on his mind regarding his recent activities.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 78

Sure. That is one of the problem with how politics have evolved, and the role of money in it.

RevBev August 27th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Good luck with the book and with you work…..this has been a valuable and fascinating discussion. Thank you.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Thank you for your participation. I have enjoyed it.

Juan Gonzalez August 27th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 82

one final question. It’s my empirical guess that the two institutions that have most represented the biggest areas of advancement for the black working class are the U.S. military and labor unions, especially state and federal government employment – certainly more so than corporate America or academia. But I didn’t notice that military experience or labor unions played much of a role in the lives of those you interviewed except perhaps for the war veterans of the “fighter” generation. Would you consider exploring at some point the impact of these institutions on the black working class?

tuezday August 27th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I’ve just been lurking but found this a fascinating discussion. The mind has been broadened and that is a good thing.

I wish some of our most excellent African-American and Hispanic diarists had been here.

BevW August 27th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon,

Ellis, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and your research.

Juan, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Ellis’ website and book.

Juan’s website

Ellis and Juan – thank you very much for being here in the middle of Hurricane Irene.

Thanks all,
Have a great (and dry) evening!

Sunday –
Terri Spahr Nelson / The Moment I Knew: Reflections from Women on Life’s Defining Moments

Just quick reminder:
Membership drive! Are you an FDL member? If not, please join and help keep FDL delivering kick ass activism and independent journalism. You can join HERE.

Ellis Cose August 27th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 83

That’s a great idea, Juan, and it is one I will think about. I guess we are bringing this conversation to a close, so again, my thanks to everyone who participated and my special thanks to Juan, who is one of the clearest thinkers I know.

All best to you.

eCAHNomics August 27th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Hi Bev,

Coming in after salon is over, so I’m not sure you’ll see this.

I sent a book suggestion into general FDL email a week or so ago, but have had no feedback. May I assume that means there is no interest.

papau August 27th, 2011 at 8:09 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 62

In 2008 perhaps the massive black support for Obama was indeed a great deal more than black loyalty (although the polls switching in the SC primary ONLT AFTER his campaign started to call for group loyalty would argue against that), but in 2011 the same percentage of the black voters plans to vote for him, despite his actions that harm their economic interests and the safety net so many need.

papau August 27th, 2011 at 8:12 pm
In response to Ellis Cose @ 69

I agree with all your points – but the drop in support has been minimal. We will see how turnout is affected – the other measure of group loyalty – in 2012. The safety net discussion seems to hardly have started in the black community.

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post