Friday, April 21, 2006

Errol Louis on "structural racism"

New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis writes in to suggest a few novels that might help us better understand structural racism:
On the question of structural racism, I would very strongly recommend Richard Wright (Black Boy or Uncle Tom’s Children, not Native Son) or anything by [James] Baldwin. All of it is “before my time,” but I found each to be worth a long shelf’s worth of sociology or history texts.

When I taught a course on black culture at the Pratt Institute in the late 1990s, my students were artists who had to take one (and only one) social science course before graduating. I always assigned Wright and would urge you to do the same. People not in the habit of reading should start with the very best.
Errol Louis was born in Harlem, raised in New Rochelle and lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife, Juanita Scarlett. He is the son of a retired NYPD inspector and formerly served as associate editor of The New York Sun. He has taught college, co-founded an inner-city community credit union, run for City Council and was once named by New York Magazine as one of 10 New Yorkers making a difference "with energy, vision and independent thinking." He holds degrees from Harvard, Yale and Brooklyn Law School.

Thanks to Errol Louis for the book recommendations.

The University of Chicago political scientist Michael Dawson helped kick off this series a few days ago. To see his first recommendation, click here; there's more coming from Professor Dawson, too, so watch this space.

--Marshal Zeringue