Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Shelby Steele  

Pen Name: None

Genre:

Audience: Adult;

Born: Chicago, Illinois


-- Shelby Steele on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=shelby+steele


Illinois Connection

N/A

Biographical and Professional Information

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Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race In America
ISBN: 006097415X

Harper Perennial. 1998

In this controversial essay collection, award-winning writer Shelby Stelle illuminates the origins of the current conflict in race relations--the increase in anger, mistrust, and even violence between black and whites. With candor and persuasive argument, he shows us how both black and white Americans have become trapped into seeing color before character, and how social policies designed to lessen racial inequities have instead increased them. The Content of Our Character is neither "liberal" nor "conservative," but an honest, courageous look at America's most enduring and wrenching social dilemma.

A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America
ISBN: B000VYX8OK

HarperCollins e-books. 2009

From the author of the award-winning bestseller The Content of Our Character comes a new essay collection that tells the untold story behind the polarized racial politics in America today. In A Dream Deferred Shelby Steele argues that a second betrayal of black freedom in the United States--the first one being segregation--emerged from the civil rights era when the country was overtaken by a powerful impulse to redeem itself from racial shame. According to Steele,1960s liberalism had as its first and all-consuming goal the expiation of America guilt rather than the careful development of true equality between the races. This "culture of preference" betrayed America's best principles in order to give whites and America institutions an iconography of racial virtue they could use against the stigma of racial shame. In four densely argued essays, Steele takes on the familiar questions of affirmative action, multiculturalism, diversity, Afro-centrism, group preferences, victimization--and what he deems to be the atavistic powers of race, ethnicity, and gender, the original causes of oppression. A Dream Deferred is an honest, courageous look at the perplexing dilemma of race and democracy in the United States--and what we might do to resolve it.

White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era
ISBN: B000VYX8XG

HarperCollins e-books. 2009

In 1955 the murderers of Emmett Till, a black Mississippi youth, were acquitted of their crime, undoubtedly because they were white. Forty years later, O. J. Simpson, whom many thought would be charged with murder by virtue of the DNA evidence against him, went free after his attorney portrayed him as a victim of racism. Clearly, a sea change had taken place in American culture, but how had it happened? In this important new work, distinguished race relations scholar Shelby Steele argues that the age of white supremacy has given way to an age of white guilt -- and neither has been good for African Americans.

As the civil rights victories of the 1960s dealt a blow to racial discrimination, American institutions started acknowledging their injustices, and white Americans -- who held the power in those institutions -- began to lose their moral authority. Since then, our governments and universities, eager to reclaim legitimacy and avoid charges of racism, have made a show of taking responsibility for the problems of black Americans. In doing so, Steele asserts, they have only further exploited blacks, viewing them always as victims, never as equals. This phenomenon, which he calls white guilt, is a way for whites to keep up appearances, to feel righteous, and to acquire an easy moral authority -- all without addressing the real underlying problems of African Americans. Steele argues that calls for diversity and programs of affirmative action serve only to stigmatize minorities, portraying them not as capable individuals but as people defined by their membership in a group for which exceptions must be made.

Through his articulate analysis and engrossing recollections of the last half-century of American race relations, Steele calls for a new culture of personal responsibility, a commitment to principles that can fill the moral void created by white guilt. White leaders must stop using minorities as a means to establish their moral authority -- and black leaders must stop indulging them. As White Guilt eloquently concludes, the alternative is a dangerous ethical relativism that extends beyond race relations into all parts of American life.

A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win
ISBN: 1400106036

Tantor Audio. 2008

From the New York Times bestselling and controversial author Shelby Steele comes an illuminating examination of the complex racial issues that confront presidential candidate Barack Obama in his race for the White House, a quest that will be one of those galvanizing occasions that forces a national dialogue on the current state of race relations in America.

Steele argues that Senator Obama is caught between two classic postures that blacks have always used to make their way in the white American mainstream: bargaining and challenging. Bargainers strike a "bargain" with white America in which they say, "I will not rub America's ugly history of racism in your face if you will not hold my race against me." Bill Cosby's sitcom in the 1980s was the classic example of bargaining. Obama also sends "bargaining" signals to white America, and whites respond with considerable gratitude-which explains the special aura of excitement that surrounds him.

But in order to garner the black vote-which is absolutely necessary for victory in the primaries and the general election-Obama must also posture as a challenger. Challengers are the opposite of bargainers. They charge whites with inherent racism and then demand that they prove themselves innocent by supporting black-friendly policies, such as affirmative action. If whites go along with this-thereby proving their innocence-they are granted absolution by the black challenger.

The current black American identity is grounded in challenging. Obama must therefore posture as a challenger to win the black vote. However, challenging threatens Obama's white support. But bargaining threatens his black support. Thus, he is bound. He walks in an impossible political territory where any expression of what he truly feels puts him in jeopardy with one much-needed constituency or another. Only a kind of two-sided political mask, or an "above politics" posture, keeps the wolves at bay.


Awards

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Availability for Public Speaking

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