Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell

This morning I finished reading Thomas Sowell’s book Black Rednecks and White Liberals.

Sowell has spent a lifetime (he’s 90 years old) studying the root causes of racial tension throughout the world, especially in the United States. Written in 2005, this book is far more relevant today – fifteen years later – than when he first wrote it. But Sowell saw the fomenting racial tensions in this country and vocally protested the policies and ideas that have continued to push us all into corners defined by the past, instead of securing solutions in the present. He offers solutions – not based on popular slogans or emotional sentiment – but based on the hard facts of history; based on how other peoples in other times successfully adapted to each other to make the lives of each more prosperous. If we can’t do that, he warns, the result will be pain and misery for all.

“While the lessons of history can be valuable, the twisting of history and the mining of the past for grievances can tear a society apart. Past grievances, real or imaginary, are equally irremediable in the present, for nothing that is done among living contemporaries can change in the slightest the sins and the sufferings of generations who took those sins and sufferings to the grave with them in centuries past. Galling as it may be to be helpless to redress the crying injustices of the past, symbolic expiation in the present can only create new injustices among the living and new problems for the future, when newborn babies enter the world with pre-packaged grievances against other babies born the same day. Both have their futures jeopardized, not only by their internal strife but also by the increased vulnerability of a disunited society to external dangers… To be relevant to our times, history must not be controlled by our times. Its integrity as a record of the past is what allows us to draw lessons from it.”