In a new two-part podcast, journalist Bill Moyers talks to Princeton professor Eddie Glaude, Jr., author of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, called “one of the most daring books of the 21st century,” a “book for the ages,” “bracing” and “unrelenting.”
The book’s power comes because the author does not begin with “pristine principles or with assumptions about our inherent goodness.” Rather, its view of democracy, as he writes, “emerges out of an unflinching encounter with lynching trees, prison cells, foreclosed homes, young men and women gunned down by police and places where ‘hope, unborn, had died.’”
“What’s so striking,” Glaude tells Moyers, “is that black fear of triggering white fear keeps us from talking openly” about race.
Democracy in Black is rich in history and bold in opinion, and inconvenient truths leap from every page. For example, “black people must lose their blackness if America is to be transformed. But of course, white people get to stay white.”
The book opens in Ferguson, Missouri, with the author talking to three, dynamic young black women, newly born to activism, and it closes in the intimacy of the reader’s heart, where each of us wrestles with the question of whether we can indeed change the habits of racism and create together a new politics based on a revolution in values.
In Part One, Glaude tells Moyers, “We talk about the achievement gap, we talk about the empathy gap, we talk about the wealth gap, and the value gap is this: the belief that white people matter more than others. And to the extent to which that belief animates our social arrangements, our political practices, our economic realities, under different material conditions, as long as that belief obtains, democracy will always be in abeyance in this country.”
In Part Two, Glaude explains why he believes the Democratic Party should be “challenged to its core” by black voters this November. “I don’t believe that black people died for the vote. That to me is heretical. I don’t think one person gave her life for a vote. They gave their lives for freedom, for a more just world. And so what I’m suggesting is that we need to think about voting strategically, and tactically, not giving up the vote. It’s too sacred.”