Revising the fraught state of race relations in the Northeast
All Eyes are Upon Us:
Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn
by Jason Sokol
$32.00 List Price
Justice for African Americans is as elusive as the pea in a shell game, where appearances of fairness are so finely spun that they make the victim seem complicit in the exploitation.
Suppose, for example, that you consider a good education your kids’ key to equality. Public education is locally controlled, so it matters where you live. Maybe finding the right location is a better way to ensure justice, but you must get past realtors and landlords who link your skin color to low property values. To reassure them, you’ll need at least a good job and the habits it requires. But to get that job, you need a good education. The shell game comes full circle: Justice is always somewhere else.
White school officials, real-estate brokers, and employers shift the shells, controlling your access to education, housing, and jobs, and if you challenge them politically, they enact voter-identification laws that feign fairness while actually thwarting it.
Even when elections are fair, majority-black districts are too marginal to stop the shell game. Broader, racially mixed publics that elect exemplary black candidates or cheer heroes such as Jackie Robinson, Oprah Winfrey, or Colin Powell don’t seem to stop it, either.
Why? Combing documents, news accounts, letters to the editor, and transcripts of interviews and court testimony, the historian Jason Sokol has been following the shell game’s guises and ironies, first in the South in his 2007 book, There Goes My Everything, and now in the Northeast in All Eyes Are Upon Us. He lets the players speak for themselves instead of foregrounding