Book Review: A Critical Look At Racial Stereotypes

Black Rednecks and White Liberals

Encounter Books
April 24, 2006
250 pages

The Origin of Black Culture: Rooted in White Southern Culture?

 Black Rednecks and White Liberals

by Thomas Sowell

Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas SowellBlack Rednecks and White Liberals was a very compelling book indeed.  Dr. Thomas Sowell, who is an economist and sociologist (among several other achievements), critiques common misconceptions about black America and the causes thereof.

What I liked the most about Black Rednecks and White Liberals, is that it confirms truths that I already knew, and shed light on things that I was either not clear on or had no knowledge of. Nevertheless, I found myself compelled listening to it particularly while exercising (I had the audio version of the book). This book will certainly open your eyes up to a different discourse often overlooked and avoided.

Black Rednecks and White Liberals (the first chapter) should be considered required reading for high school students and furthermore for students who wish to pursue a college education particularly in the social sciences or liberal arts.

In particular for me, I found the chapter that covered the middleman minorities (Are Jews Generic?) to be of particular interest. As it relates to black Americans, it strikes me particularly hard to understand how little effort goes into trying to change the culture of black Americans themselves.

However, the convincing observation particularly concerning the middleman minorities stands true today as it did then; it is those that recognize, prepare for, and seize opportunity that are able to change their lot in life and therefore are uplifted for it.

One other notable consideration in this book Black Rednecks and White Liberals in the chapter relating to slavery (The Real History of Slavery) is the fact that slavery is not isolated nor limited to black Americans. Dr. Sowell points out that slavery has been going on for a long time. Antiquity reveals that almost all peoples on earth have practiced slavery throughout the course of history and yet black Americans make it seem solely their own unique plight.

The last consideration is the comparison between black Americans and poor whites (Black Rednecks and White Liberals) who immigrated from the British Isles and the bordering regions of Scotland who were referred to as ‘crackers’. Dr. Sowell explains the parallels between the two groups. As this particular chapter makes a concerted effort to define the origin of black American dysfunction, it begs to question just how much interaction the poor Scotch-Irish had the slaves resulting in the black American culture as we know and recognize it today. Nevertheless, it matters not so much where the degenerate behavior was adopted from but rather what can be done to rid the black American culture and community of it.

Black Rednecks and White Liberals points out similarities between these two groups quite clearly. For example, what is involved is a common subculture that goes back for centuries, which has encompassed everything from ways of talking to attitudes toward education; violence, and sex ”and which originated not in the South, but in those parts of the British Isles from which white Southerners came. That culture long ago died out where it originated in Britain, while surviving in the American south. Then it largely died out among both white and black Southerners, while still surviving today in the poorest and worst of the urban black ghettos. 

This book has not only opened my eyes up to a new perspective on black Americans, but more so are the facts of group thinking and the many ways that it has a major impact on social and cultural dysfunctions. It is a must read.

In conclusion, Dr. Sowell is not without firsthand knowledge of the struggles and plights within the black American expeirence. With his Father dying before he was born, he moved in with his great-aunt and her children to be raised, lived in the very segregated south (Gastonia, North Carolina), and dropping out of high school at the age of 17 among other things. He had all the prerequisites for certain failure.

Dr. Sowell went on to turn his life around and became a scholar and academic disproving the staus quo of black dysfunctional culture. He is truly a prodigy to be admired.