Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Political performance art

The typical way of having one’s cake and eating it too here is to say that we need to think about both government help and self-help. But in practice this too often becomes a handy way to focus on the comforts of underdoggism while genuflecting to the obvious but undramatic logic of self-direction. Wax usefully asks: “Is it possible to pursue an arduous program of self-improvement while simultaneously thinking of oneself as a victim of grievous mistreatment and of one’s shortcomings as a product of external forces?” To the extent that our ideology on race is more about studied radicalism than about a healthy brand of what Wax calls an internal locus of control, her book provokes, at least in this reader, a certain hopelessness. If she is right, then the bulk of today’s discussion of black America is performance art. Tragically, and for the most part, she is right.  ~John McWhorter in TNR
 Exhibit A: