Disintegration by Eugene Robinson
The Splintering of Black America

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Synopsis

Instead of one black America, today there are four.

“There was a time when there were agreed-upon 'black leaders,' when there was a clear 'black agenda,' when we could talk confidently about 'the state of black America'—but not anymore.” —from Disintegration

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, Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson argues that over decades of desegregation, affirmative action, and immigration, the concept of Black America has shattered. Instead of one black America, now there are four:

• a Mainstream middle-class majority with a full ownership stake in American society;

• a large, Abandoned minority with less hope of escaping poverty and dysfunction than at any time since Reconstruction’s crushing end;
• a small Transcendent elite with such enormous wealth, power, and influence that even white folks have to genuflect;

• and two newly Emergent groups—individuals of mixed-race heritage and communities of recent black immigrants—that make us wonder what “black” is even supposed to mean.

Robinson shows that the four black Americas are increasingly distinct, separated by demography, geography, and psychology. They have different profiles, different mindsets, different hopes, fears, and dreams. What’s more, these groups have become so distinct that they view each other with mistrust and apprehension. And yet all are reluctant to acknowledge division.

Disintegration
offers a new paradigm for understanding race in America, with implications both hopeful and dispiriting. It shines necessary light on debates about affirmative action, racial identity, and the ultimate question of whether the black community will endure.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Eugene Robinson

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EUGENE ROBINSON joined the Washington Post in 1980, where he has served as London bureau chief, foreign editor, and, currently, associate editor and columnist. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and in 2009, Robinson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. Disintegration is his third book.
 
Published October 5, 2010 by Anchor. 274 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Disintegration

Kirkus Reviews

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Add to this mix new, aspiring immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, and there are clearly multiple Black Americas, all of which share with segments of the other Americas certain assumptions—such as the moral inferiority of the very poor—but are subject to tensions and stresses all their own.

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The New York Times

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Du Bois’s dictum that “the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line,” Robinson warns that the problem of the 21st century “is the problem of the Abandoned.” This book is full of facts, figures and telling anecdotes related to the disintegration of black America, but i...

Dec 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

Publishers Weekly

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In this clear-eyed and compassionate study, Robinson (Coal to Cream), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for the Washington Post, marshals persuasive evidence that the African-American population has splintered into four distinct and increasingly disconnected entities: a small elite with enormou...

Aug 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

The Washington Post

In other words, these black Americans compose a class without wealth, a feature common in the white upper-working class, as sociologists Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro reminded us in their 1995 book "Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality."

Oct 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

Tampa Bay Times

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson's cleverly titled new book Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America dissects how African-Americans evolved from being a fairly cohesive, similarly minded group before the civil rights movement into four distinct groups today.

Nov 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

Bookmarks Magazine



• and two newly Emergent groups—individuals of mixed-race heritage and communities of recent black immigrants—that make us wonder what “black” is even supposed to mean.

Robinson shows that the four black Americas are increasingly distinct, separated by demography, geography, and ps...

Nov 07 2010 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

The Root

In Eugene Robinson's latest book, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America, he says that in the past 40 years, black America has split into four subgroups: the transcendent elite (see Winfrey, Oprah;

Jan 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

truthdig

You may not be an Internet billionaire, but for $25 (or .00001 percent of what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just paid for the Washington Post), you can help keep us in business.

Oct 03 2008 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

truthdig

Meier has unearthed the previously unknown story of Cy Oggins, an American Jewish communist who became a Soviet spy and was, for his troubles, executed in Moscow in 1947 just as the Cold War began.

Oct 03 2008 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

Dominion of New York

To some degree, Robinson’s four black Americas are too neatly classified, glossing over the ‘messiness’ of black family life… Another black America reflects the experiences of a vast and struggling Mainstream of middle and working-class black folk, living in majority black neighborhoods like L...

Nov 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Disintegration: The Splinteri...

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