A Race Study: Three Crises Affecting the Black Community According to Cornel West, Patricia Williams and Derrick Bell
Noonan, Todd Brian
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It is difficult to approach the subject of race in a responsible, academic manner. The difficulty in dealing with racial matters magnifies when the researcher is a member of the majority, distanced from the group being studied--it is particularly problematic when the researcher is a white male. Such is the case in the following essay. It is necessary for a white male to use extreme caution when examining the black community. Careless wording can be interpreted as condescension or possibly racism on the part of the author. It is problematic also for the white male to assume a position of authority while studying blacks. If this happens, a respectful writer will fall into the same cycle of dominance that he may be trying to dismantle. It will appear he is making demands and it is not acceptable for the white male to make demands on the black community. In the past, consequences for blacks not carrying out such demands ended in further subjugation and death. Indeed, too many demands already have been given. The possibility of the occurrence of these misinterpretations in the following essay has been erased by the author's reliance on expert thinkers in the field of race theory. This essay constructs itself not as a personal exposition of what is wrong with the black community, but a study of secondary sources. It is a study of three contemporary black thinkers' views on the crises affecting the black community. The first two sections, Black Identity Crisis and Black Leadership Crisis, are studies on the writings of Cornel West. In certain areas, the thoughts of other writers are utilized, but for the most part, it is West who helps to structure the first two sections of this essay. The third section, Black Rights Crisis, is an examination of the teachings of two important theorists, Patricia Williams and Derrick Bell. References to these three writers are made throughout this essay. Their thoughts have been the foundation for this entire project.