A Country of Strangers by David K. Shipler

Multiracial USA: A Country of Strangers

  • Book:  “A Country of Strangers – Blacks and Whites in America”
  • Author:  David K. Shipler
  • Publisher:  Vintage Books, New York, 1998

There is no better way to learn more about United States, than by studying one of its most enduring and pressing issues – the difficult and highly emotional issue of race.

In fact, there are many different races and cultures that comprise the face of the modern United States, but there is nothing that compares to the strenuous and mutually distrusting relationship between the “white” and “black” residents of this nation.

This hefty volume written by an award-winning New York Times journalist, David K. Shipler, is one of the most illuminating and unbiased studies ever published on this complicated topic.  This greatly informative book deals with a number of important questions, such as: Why did this happen?  How did the things end up this way, and how come such a multi-cultured, multi-lingual and developed nation can also be so racist and deeply un-attuned when it comes to one basic subject – the color of one’s skin.

As it turns out, the issue of discrimination and stereotyping is not a simple concern, which can be resolved easily and quickly.  Unfortunately, it involves several hundreds of years, and layers upon layers of unfair, often disturbing and discriminatory treatment and judgmental view of the “superior whites” towards the “inferior black” people.  But this is not to say that it cannot be challenged and extinguished.

Read this book to understand, to uncover the biases, and the terrible stereotypes that follow the “black” Americans in their own country, and gain a deeper perspective on this sad, raw, painful and troubling subject.

  “In American society, a child has only to breathe and listen and watch to accumulate the prejudices that govern ordinary thought.  Even without willful intention, with no active effort, a youngster absorbs the images and caricatures surrounding race.  Nobody growing up in America can escape the assumptions and expectations that attach themselves to one group or another.  Intolerance is naturally learned.  What must be consciously taught is tolerance.” (p. 487)

“By contrast, most whites rarely have to give race much thought.  They do not begin childhood with advice from parents about how to cope with racial bias or how to discern the racial overtones in a comment or a manner.  They do not have to search for themselves in history books or literature courses.  In most parts of America, their color does not make them feel alone in a crowd; they are not looked to as representatives of their people.  And they almost never have to wonder whether they are rejected – or accepted – because of their genuine level of ability or the color of their skin.” (p. 10)

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