Saturday, January 3, 2009

Enough or Reputation

Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It

Author: Juan Williams

Half a century after brave Americans took to the streets to raise the bar of opportunity for all races, Juan Williams writes that too many black Americans are in crisis—caught in a twisted hip-hop culture, dropping out of school, ending up in jail, having babies when they are not ready to be parents, and falling to the bottom in twenty-first-century global economic competition.

In Enough, Juan Williams issues a lucid, impassioned clarion call to do the right thing now, before we travel so far off the glorious path set by generations of civil rights heroes that there can be no more reaching back to offer a hand and rescue those being left behind.

Inspired by Bill Cosby’s now famous speech at the NAACP gala celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown decision integrating schools, Williams makes the case that while there is still racism, it is way past time for black Americans to open their eyes to the “culture of failure” that exists within their community. He raises the banner of proud black traditional values—self-help, strong families, and belief in God—that sustained black people through generations of oppression and flowered in the exhilarating promise of the modern civil rights movement. Williams asks what happened to keeping our eyes on the prize by proving the case for equality with black excellence and achievement.

He takes particular aim at prominent black leaders—from Al Sharpton to Jesse Jackson to Marion Barry. Williams exposes the call for reparations as an act of futility, a detour into self-pity; he condemns the “Stop Snitching” campaign as nothing more than a surrender to criminals;and he decries the glorification of materialism, misogyny, and murder as a corruption of a rich black culture, a tragic turn into pornographic excess that is hurting young black minds, especially among the poor.

Reinforcing his incisive observations with solid research and alarming statistical data, Williams offers a concrete plan for overcoming the obstacles that now stand in the way of African Americans’ full participation in the nation’s freedom and prosperity. Certain to be widely discussed and vehemently debated, Enough is a bold, perceptive, solution-based look at African American life, culture, and politics today.

Publishers Weekly

When Bill Cosby addressed a 50th-anniversary celebration of Brown v. Board of Education, he created a major controversy with seemingly inoffensive counsel ("begin with getting a high school education, not having children until one is twenty-one and married, working hard at any job, and being good parents"). Building from Cosby's speech, NPR/Fox journalist Williams offers his ballast to Cosby's position. Williams starts with the question, "Why are so many black Americans, people born inside the gates of American opportunity, still living as if they were locked out from all America has to offer?" His answers include the debacle of big-city politics under self-serving black politicians; reparations as "a divisive dead-end idea"; the parlous state of city schools "under the alliance between the civil rights leaders and the teachers' unions"; and the transformation of rap from "its willingness to confront establishment and stereotypes" to "America's late-night masturbatory fantasy." A sense of the erosion of "the high moral standing of civil rights" underlies Cosby's anguish and Williams's anger. Politically interested readers of a mildly conservative bent will find this book sheer dynamite. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal

On May 17, 2004, the 50th anniversary of the landmark case that integrated schools (Brown v. Board of Education), actor/comedian Bill Cosby addressed a distinguished group of African Americans at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. Cosby talked about the state of life in black America, specifically attacking the poor, for which he was widely criticized. He received no support from organizations like the NAACP, National Urban League, or Congressional Black Caucus. In defense of Cosby and following his lead, Williams (Thurgood Marshall), a senior correspondent for National Public Radio, rails against reparations, black-on-black crime, and demeaning rap and hip-hop videos. He also exposes corrupt politicians like former mayors Sharpe James of Newark, NJ, and Marion Barry of Washington, DC, and flawed activists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Williams then analyzes race and poverty in New Orleans, contending that class rather than racism played a major role in recovery efforts for Katrina Gulf Coast victims. He then concludes by saying that the keys to ending poverty lie with individuals finishing high school, then college, getting a job and keeping it, and finally, getting married and not beginning a family until age 21. Based partly on an interview the author conducted with the comedian, this is a well-researched, insightful, eyeopening report. For an anti-Cosby polemic, see Michael Eric Dyson's Is Cosby Right, or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? Essential reading for most collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/06.]-Ann Burns, Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

Black America is being undermined by a depraved popular culture, avers Williams (Eyes on the Prize, 1987, etc.), while its leaders pursue anachronistic, self-serving causes. At a 2004 gala to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Bill Cosby gave a blistering speech that deplored the black establishment's indifference to the cultural pathologies crippling poor neighborhoods. Cosby was criticized for his remarks, but his thesis is defended here by NPR senior correspondent and Fox News commentator Williams. While taking care not to dismiss the reality of racism in American society, the author echoes Cosby in rejecting racism as an explanation for high levels of out-of-wedlock births, neighborhoods paralyzed by crime and deficiencies in education. The last particularly incenses the author: Brown was about getting access to a decent education, but a substantial number of poor African-Americans, he says, disdain to use that access. Williams assigns part of the blame to nihilism fostered by a thuggish, misogynist music industry. That industry would not be so successful, however, if the black establishment had not abdicated its responsibility to foster healthy cultural norms. Instead, noted African-American leaders occupy their time with projects that are not easily distinguishable from protection rackets (Williams condemns demands for slavery reparations) or in seeking further subsidies for the black middle class. Some African-American politicians, he concludes, rely on a pool of reliably poor people in whose name they can extract endless public funds for programs that they and their cohorts can administer. Williams has particularly harsh words forthe maladministration and patronage politics of mayors Sharpe James of Newark and Marion Barry of Washington, D.C. There is also a hair-raising case study of the effort by such notables as Jesse Jackson and Maxine Waters to squelch criticism of poor care at the largely African-American-staffed King/Drew Hospital in Los Angeles. In the author's view, part of the solution would be simply to hold major black institutions to ordinary levels of managerial probity. The greater need is for a culture that promotes the discipline and enterprise that characterized black society at the time of the Brown decision. A formidable polemic: You may reject the conclusion, but you cannot dismiss the argument.

Table of Contents:
1The leadership gap25
2Blood of the martyrs and other bad excuses44
3The reparations mirage67
4The radical goal of education86
5Crime and punishment106
7Forgotten history149
8Like a hurricane168
9The cosby show188
10What next?211

Book about: A Speakers Resource or An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire 1300 1600

Reputation: Portraits in Power

Author: Marjorie Williams

In 2005, The Woman at the Washington Zoo was published to major critical acclaim. The late Marjorie Williams possessed “a special voice, one capable not just of canny political observations but of tenderness and bracing intimacy,” observed the New York Times Book Review.

Now, in a collection of profiles with the richness of short fiction, Williams limns the personalities that dominated politics and the media during the final years of the twentieth century. In these pages, Clark Clifford grieves “in his laborious baritone” a bank scandal’s blow to his re-pu-taaaaaay-shun. Lee Atwater likens himself to Ulysses and pleads, “Tah me to the mast!” Patricia Duff sheds “precipitous tears” over her divorce from Ronald Perelman, resembling afterwards “a garden refreshed by spring rain.”

Reputation illuminates our recent past through expertly drawn portraits of powerful— and messily human—figures.

The New York Times - J. Courtney Sullivan

Williams observes her subjects with a winning mix of cynicism and compassion, humor and wisdom…Reading through this brilliant collection brings on a feeling of loss: we don't know what Williams might have thought about the political landscape of 2008.

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