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“From Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist and commentator Eugene Robinson comes a paradigm-shifting book about race in America.
The African American population in the United States has always been seen as a single entity: a “Black America” with unified interests and needs. In his groundbreaking book Disintegration, longtime Washington Post journalist Eugene Robinson argues that, through decades of desegregation, affirmative action, and immigration, the concept of Black America has shattered. Now, instead of one, there are four distinct groups: a Mainstream middle-class majority with a solid stake in society; a large Abandoned minority with less hope than ever of escaping poverty; a small Transcendent elite, whose enormous wealth and power makes even whites genuflect; and newly Emergent groups of mixed-race individuals and recent black immigrants who question what “black” even means.
Using historical research, reporting, census data, and polling, Robinson shows how these groups have become so distinct that they view each other with mistrust and apprehension. And yet all are reluctant to acknowledge division. Disintegration shines light on crucial debates about affirmative action, the importance of race versus social class, and the ultimate questions of whether and in what form racism and the black community endure.
“[Robinson] calls for African Americans to come together once again to solve the problems of those blacks who have been abandoned by the greater society. . . . This book will have great appeal to African Americans and others concerned about issues of race and inequality” —Library Journal
“In this clear-eyed and compassionate study, Robinson . . . marshals persuasive evidence that the African-American population has splintered into four distinct and increasingly disconnected entities. . . . Of particular interest is the discussion of how immigrants from Africa, the ‘best-educated group coming to live in the United States,’ are changing what being black means.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Robinson] peels away the rhetoric surrounding a topic and illuminates realities. . . .” —Tribstar.com
“[A] sober, careful and engaging consideration of phenomena that began with the official end of segregation and has of late been accelerating. . . . Those familiar with [Robinson’s] style will find Disintegration the same blend of logical analysis and gentle humor that makes him sometimes appear to be the Most Reasonable Man in America.” —SF Gate
“[A] bold call to action . . . [Disintegration] makes clear that Robinson’s success, and the success of his fellow black fortunates, simply do not negate the problems of the other 30% of blacks who continue to struggle at the bottom.” —Los Angeles Times
“Powerful. . . . This book is full of facts, figures and telling anecdotes related to the disintegration of black America, but its real power resides elsewhere. Sometimes writers tell us something familiar—something that we already know, or that we should know—but they do it in such a creative and cleareyed way and with such force that we begin to see things differently independent of any new information. This is exactly what Eugene Robinson has done in Disintegration.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A keenly insightful volume about black America. . . . Robinson is an astute observer of people and events, and his personal observations and sometimes anecdotal glimpses of life in America for blacks is frequently backed up by census records and other sources. . . . The book is well worth reading and hopefully will help us better understand life in America.” —The Free Lance-Star
“[a] deftly written account of the fragmentation of America’s black population.” —Time
“The text would be useful as a young person’s introduction to Race in America 101.” —John McWhorter, The New Republic
“Readers don’t have to agree with Robinson’s observations to appreciate the undeniable differences within black America and to maybe want further analysis.” –Booklist
“In Disintegration, Eugene Robinson neatly explodes decades’ worth of lazy generalizations about race in America. At the same time, he raises new questions about community, invisibility, and the virtues and drawbacks of assimilation. An important book.” —Gwen Ifill
“Gene Robinson’s Disintegration is the first popular salvo in the Age of Obama regarding the delicate issues of class division, generation gap, and elite obsession in Black America. This painful conversation must continue—and we have Gene Robinson as a useful guide.” —Cornel West