I know Shelby Steele from his previous book White Guilt. This latest title, A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win also sounds quite interesting. According to the reviews I’ve read, Steele builds upon his previous themes. For example, according to the Amazon book description, Steele argues:
“Obama is caught between the 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. Challengers do the opposite of bargainers. They charge whites with inherent racism and then demand that they prove themselves innocent by supporting black-friendly policies like affirmative action and diversity.”
The title, then, A Bound Man is based on Steele’s view that Senator Obama is “bound” to racial identity politics. I find this intriguing given that Obama is consistently winning an overwhelmingly high percentage of the Black vote in the Democratic primaries (anywhere from 60% in Clinton’s home state of New York to almost 90% in Alabama). Given the intelligence and superb writing ability of Shelby Steele, I would not be surprised if this was a great book. Unfortunately, I disagree with the subtitle: I think Senator Obama can (and probably will) win — against Senator Clinton, and then against presumptive nominee Senator McCain. With regard to the latter, I truly hope I am wrong.
“In 1950, five out of every six black children were born into a two-parent home. Today, that number is less than two out of six. In poor communities, that number is lower still. There are whole blocks with scarcely a married couple, whole blocks without responsible males to watch out for wayward boys, whole neighborhoods in which little girls and boys come of age without seeing up close a committed partnership and perhaps never having attended a wedding.”
It is imperative that African-American men take responsibility for their academic, professional, and social future, and for the well-being of their families, moving beyond a culture of victim-hood so often promoted in the mainstream media. It is equally imperative that they move beyond the self-saturated image of independent, commitment-less, womanizing male animals promoted by an economically powerful rap music industry for commercial gain. Given the importance of these matters, I welcome this new book.
This book came in the mail a few weeks ago, but I haven’t much opportunity to look through it. I met Anyabwile when he came to speak at the Desiring God Pastors Conference in 2007. I was impressed by both his message and his personal demeanor. I later heard his testimony of conversion and call to ministry. Now the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, Anyabwile is an erudite, seasoned thinker and an articulate communicator. I don’t always agree with him (Christians should be generous tippers in restaurants!), but he is always worth reading, particularly on theological topics. This book traces the history of African American theology from its former days of biblical faithfulness to its modern expression of cultural captivity. It begins in the slave era of the 1600s and proceeds through the centuries all the way to modern leaders such as T.D. Jakes.