Cover Image: Race and Reckoning

Race and Reckoning

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Member Reviews

Up to a point, Race and Reckoning includes a fantastic overview of the role of race within American history and how African Americans have been systemically denied opportunities and equality within American society. For the first three quarters of the book, Cose recounts American history from the colonial era through the Nixon campaign's "Southern Strategy". Cose expertly points out how discrimination has been built into the foundations of America.

However, the final quarter of Cose's book jumps from the Nixon campaign to modern day, focusing on the Trump presidency predominantly. By doing this, Cose, fails to mention a number of important events or developments in the story of race in America: the War of Drugs, the Reagan administration, the Clinton administration and the Crime Bill, Ferguson and the rise of the Black Live Matter Movements.

While no book can cover every event in American history, and certainly this book is attempting to create a broad overview that the average reader can engage with, leaving such a massive chunk of American history out of the analysis makes for an incomplete retelling of the African American story in the United States.
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Race and Reckoning by Ellis Cose is a history of the United States using key moments when we could have chosen to try to live up to our founding principles (on paper anyway) but instead chose to maintain a white supremacist society.

These historical moments are explained in clear, very well-researched prose. What comes through is that none of these were simply "the way things were." There were people at every juncture who tried to steer us toward a better and more inclusive society, who argued for doing the right thing. Yet the powers that be did some amazing mental gymnastics, throwing out any sense of ethics or morality, in order to rationalize their racism.

On the topic of inclusivity, Cose includes the ways every group other than those considered at the time to be white were targeted. Black, indigenous, Asian, Muslim have all been, and remain, the targets of those who believe the lie of white supremacy.

I would recommend this for readers who both want to better understand these moments in history and want the details in order to refute those claiming some kind of "just the way it was" justification, especially since these acts have continued into the present.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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