Encounter Books, 2012
Let us be frank; not many people feel comfortable discussing the subject of race.
Thankfully, author and journalist Harry Stein has different feelings. In his 2012 book, the aptly titled No Matter What… They’ll Call This Book Racist: How our Fear of Talking Honestly About Race Hurts Us All, he delivered on that honest conversation Eric Holder infamously requested.
Stein contends that race relations are bogged down not by those on the right, but the left. His argument is evidenced by the all-too-familiar trials and tribulations of such notable black conservatives as Clarence Thomas and Condoleeza Rice.
He also brings up the unfortunate realities of single parenthood, affirmative action gone awry, and how both negatively impact minority communities.
There is far more, of course. Stein deftly addresses self-defeating social cycles which prohibit untold millions from actualizing their respective full potentials. Multiculturalism, and the sort of discontent that it can forge, does not go unmentioned, either.
Nonetheless, I could not help but sense that Stein is blinded somewhat by his allegiance to right-leaning politics.
While the left shamelessly profits over contemporary racial strife, the right hardly offers a plethora of tried-and-true solutions. This is not to say that Stein himself does not — as a matter of fact, he writes about more than a few — but none seem especially groundbreaking.
No Matter What is a fine book, and one that champions the earnest, positive message of lending a hand up rather than a handout. Will it convince those on the left and in the center that the modern right is the way to go for alleviating the awful pressures of divisive racial politics?
Not a chance.
However, it might begin a productive discussion, and that is good enough for me.
Joseph Ford Cotto, 1st Baron Cotto, GCCCR is the editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Review of Books. In the past, he covered current events and style for The Washington Times's Communities section, where he interviewed personalities ranging from Fmr. Ambassador John Bolton to Dionne Warwick. Cotto was also a writer for Blogcritics Magazine and Yahoo's contributor network, among other publications. In 2014, H.M. King Kigeli V of Rwanda bestowed a hereditary knighthood upon him, which was followed by a barony the next year.