A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America

A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America

by David K. Shipler

A Country of Strangers is a magnificent exploration of the psychological landscape where blacks and whites meet.

Shipler bypasses both extremists and celebrities and takes us among ordinary Americans as they encounter one another across racial lines.We learn how blacks and whites see each other, how they interpret each other's behavior, and how certain damaging images and assumptions seep into the actions of even the most unbiased.

We see how whites and blacks each carry the burden of our history.Black-white stereotypes are dissected: the physical bodies that we see, the mental qualities we imagine, the moral character we attribute to others and to ourselves, the violence we fear, the power we seek or are loath to relinquish.The book makes clear that we have the ability to shape our racial landscape--to reconstruct, even if not perfectly, the texture of our relationships.

It explores the human dimensions of affirmative action, the intricate contacts and misunderstandings across racial lines among coworkers and neighbors.

It is unstinting in its criticism of our society's failure to come to grips with bigotry; but it is also, happily, crowded with black people and white people who struggle in their daily lives to do just that.A remarkable book that will stimulate each of us to reexamine and better understand our own deepest attitudes in regard to race in America.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Race
  • Rating: 4.03
  • Pages: 624
  • Publish Date: September 1st 1998 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 0679734546
  • Isbn13: 9780679734543

What People Think about "A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America"

My daughter Anna was four years old when A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America came out. The introduction has quite a few statistics but then true to his word, he moves to anecdotal evidence, stories from the many, many people across the country that he has talked to about race relations, present and past. He discussed the skills and knowledge that he acquired over the years that helped him avoid many pitfalls that whites often suffered when talking with blacks. He also often deals with issues from the points of view of a number of people, some black, some white, indicating the tenor of the times by displaying the range of thinking. Mr. Shipley spends a good deal of time exploring the experiences of people at the border between black and white cultures. He relates this to experiences both races had at the times of desegregation and still have when the cultures mix. For David Shipler the many personal histories he gathered for the book are powerful in telling about the history and memories of black-white relationships over the years. The story of Somerset Place in North Carolina is told by a black woman Dorothy Spruill Redford who traced her family back to the time her ancestors were slaves on that plantation. Somerset Homecomings that started in 1986 are events that bring together the ancestors of the slaves: http://www.nchistoricsites.org/somers... In earlier decades, black slaves had been largely non-existent at these sites, even where slavery was a major component of the history of the time. A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America was published in 1997 so is sixteen years old. A lot has happened in race relations since then so this book might be considerably dated. If whites gain insight through this book into what it is like to be black in America, they will also learn what it is like to be white,'' he writes; armed with that self-knowledge, they might then help right a society in which racial differences continue to frustrate the fulfillment of the American dream. He finds that whites tend to be uncomfortable discussing race, but that it is an ever-present issue for most of the blacks he talks to. What this white man learns from black Americans makes this a stunning and major work. As he often does in this book, Shipler does an excellent job trying to cover the conflicting points of view on the issue by inserting the words of real people. It is fascinating to compare the GR reviews of The Bell Curve content with an average rating of 3.15 with the analysis of the premises and conclusions of the book by David Shipler. Checking 2010 demographics, integration continues to be successful with 67% white, 22% black, 5% Asian, 4% mixed race and 7% Hispanic. Yes, the book was published sixteen years ago and is dated in places. A lot has happened in race relations in the U.S. since A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America first appeared in book stores. I wish I could ask David Shipler to spend another eight years updating this book. The eight years he spent writing this book was an excellent investment and has paid off well for those of us who have had the good fortune to read this book.

Overall, the book successfully illustrates a lot of misconceptions that blacks and whites have about one another and the deep racial divides that do continue to exist in America long after slavery and segregation.

And it just wasn't making me think about things. Either race relations have changed in the past 10 years or I am perfectly enlightened. I've read a lot of things since 1997 and people have written even more. I don't think the topic of race relations is taboo anymore.

The last quarter was kind of a "slog on thru" to finish the book.