Two Frogs

Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America


by Randall Robinson
Date Reviewed: December 02, 2002

I made it 80% of the way through this book before I finally gave up. Frankly, I’m surprised I got that far. The thing that finally tipped the scales was the patently ludicrous statement that 1 in 8 middle students in America’s middle and high school students carries a weapon to school. I started out just being mildly annoyed – the writing is pompous and fractured, and the telling fails to be very cohesive. Then I was offended – Robinson’s worldview seems to suppose that there are two kinds of people in America – minorities and racists. He has no sympathy for the plight of non-blacks, and no tolerance for any agendas but his own. He strikes me as selfish, arrogant, and narrow-minded, although it’s clear he is brilliant and well-read. His use of the term “those people” in reference to Whites is egregious enough, but he seems to think that all modern-day Americans bear the guilt for slavery. He neglects to include in this castigation in any way the fact that it was blacks who first enslaved blacks. Slavery was arguably the biggest evil this world has ever seen (Nazi concentration camps and Israeli detention centers are way up there, though), but it has been almost a century and a half since its abolition, and Robinson acts as if I personally took a whip to his back. I’m tired of the notion that the sins of the (great, great, great, great, great-grand) fathers should be visited on the sons. I take issue with Robinson’s claim that whenever any black person looks at an American president, “all he will see is a white man.” I think there is likely still a huge racial divide in America and the rest of the world, but I cannot believe it is as wide as this author would have you believe. The increase in interracial marriage, the increasing presence of Blacks and other minorities in high-paying and high-power jobs, the increase in the numbers of Blacks and other minorities in government, and other signs point to a diminishing racial division. It’s books like this that try to make the division more pronounced, and the problem more odious.

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