Friday’s Los Angeles Times had a review of Houston Baker’s Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era.
The review offers a very good summary of Baker’s argument and his critiques of prominent Black intellectuals:
In his new book, “Betrayal,” the Vanderbilt University professor and civil rights veteran blasts what he sees as the tragically wrong turn that black intellectuals, both conservative and liberal, have taken since the ’60s by confusing prominence with leadership and their own inclusion in the white mainstream with justice. Such luminaries as Shelby Steele, John McWhorter, Stephen Carter and Henry Louis Gates Jr., through their relentless self-promotion and soft-pedaling or eliding of uncomfortable racial facts, have encouraged the confusion. More damning in Baker’s eyes, these figures have collectively and sometimes consciously betrayed the ideals of black advocacy practiced most diligently by King and, to a lesser extent, the proponents of black power. Baker believes that far from being antithetical (one of many racial myths he seeks to unravel in “Betrayal”), the movements drew on the same philosophy of black-first empowerment and together formed a crucial blueprint for progress.