Books by John H. McWhorter, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority

Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority.


Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America

Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America.



Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority
by John McWhorter, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute

In his New York Times bestseller, Losing the Race, John McWhorter, a Berkeley linguistics professor, tried to make sense of why so many African-Americans continue to define themselves by race and examined what he calls the cult of Victimology, Separatism, and Anti-Intellectualism he has witnessed on America’s college campuses. In Authentically Black, McWhorter broadens his lens in this penetrating and profound collection of essays that continue his exploration of what it means to be black in America today.

According to McWhorter, nearly forty years after the Civil Rights Act, African-Americans in this country still remain “a race apart.” He feels that modern black Americans have internalized a tacit message: “authentically black” people stress initiative in private but cloak the race in victimhood in public in order to protect black people from an ever-looming white backlash.  McWhorter terms this phenomenon the “New Double Consciousness” in homage to W. E. B. Dubois’s description of a different kind of double consciousness in blacks a century ago.  It is within this context that McWhorter takes us on a guided tour through the race issues dominating our current discourse . . .

With his fierce intelligence and fervent eloquence, John McWhorter makes a powerful case for the advancement of true racial equality.  Authentically Black is a timely and important work about issues that must be addressed by blacks and whites alike. Authentically Black is a book for Americans of every racial, social, political, and economic persuasion.

Critical Acclaim for Authentically Black:

[McWhorter] has been called a neo-conservative, but the nine essays in this book are too complex and provocative to be labeled so easily. –Carole Goldberg, Hartford Courant

For those comfortable with frank dialogue on race, the discussion continues in Mr. McWhorter’s answer to the huge debate sparked by those who read his first book, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America. –Jean Nash Johnson, The Dallas Morning News

Neither liberal nor truly conservative, McWhorter is not your typical black intellectual. His essays—written primarily for newspapers and magazines—are so passionately written and so eloquent, most readers probably will respect him, even if they don’t agree with him. –Janita Poe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Reviews of Authentically Black:

  • Janita Poe, “Intellectual Unafraid of Tackling Tough Issues.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6-1-03.
  • Brian Lewis, “Unorthodox Take on Racism Worthwhile.” The Tennessean 3-30-03, p. 32D.
  • Michael Massing, “Black, White, Read All Over.”  The New York Times 3-16-03, p. 7-29.
  • Jean Nash Johnson, “New Offerings Celebrate All Facets of Black Life.” The Dallas Morning News 2-25-03, p. 1C.
  • Jane Lichtenberg, “Nonfiction Works Deal with Varied Aspects of Race.”  The Indianapolis Star 2-23-03, p. 5E.
  • Rosemary Herbert, “Books: Editor’s Choice.”  The Boston Herald 2-21-03 p. 47.
  • Carole Goldberg, “The Glory of Color: What It Means to Be Black in America Through Art, Stories and Religion.” Hartford Courant 2-16-03, p. G4.
  • Andrea Renee Goode, “McWhorter Makes Excellent Points; We Just Wish He’d Stop There.” SF Weekly 1-29-03.

Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America **New York Times Bestseller**
by John McWhorter, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute

Is school a “white” thing? If not, then why do African-American students from comfortable middle-class backgrounds perform so badly in the classroom? What is it that prevents so many black college students in the humanities and social sciences from studying anything other than black subjects? Why do young black people, born decades after the heyday of the Civil Rights movement, see victimhood as the defining element of their existence?

In this explosive book, Berkeley linguistics professor John McWhorter reports from the trenches of today’s college classroom to offer a daring assessment of what’s plaguing the children of yesterday’s affirmative-action babies. The Civil Rights revolution was the pinnacle of American history, freeing African Americans from centuries of disenfranchisement.  Yet, as McWhorter shows, it has had a tragic side effect.  As racism recedes as a serious obstacle to black advancement, most black American leaders and thinkers have been misled into a self-destructive ideological detour.  Victimhood is exaggerated and enshrined more than constructively addressed.  Following from this, young black people are shepherded into a separatist conception of “blackness” defined largely as that which is not “white.”  This in turn conditions a sense, embedded in black American culture as a whole, that academic achievement is a “white” realm that the “authentic” black person dwells in only for financial gain or to chronicle black victimhood and victories.

McWhorter addresses these problems head-on, drawing on history, statistics, and his own life experiences. He shows that affirmative action in university admissions, indispensable 30 years ago, is today an obsolete policy that encourages the counterproductive ideologies of what he calls Separatism, Victimology, and Anti-intellectualism. Most perniciously, it prevents black students from demonstrating the abilities our Civil Rights leaders gave them the opportunity to nurture, and it deprives them of the incentive to strive for the very top.

Racism is not dead—but as McWhorter so persuasively argues, dealing it a death blow will require a reinvestment in the strength that allowed black Americans to triumph and survive this far.  His pathbreaking book is certain to shock, inspire, and ignite debate among all those who care about race and education today.

Critical Acclaim for Losing the Race:

This is one of a small but growing number of books that discuss racial issues honestly.  It is about time. –Thomas Sowell

It is a brave and very honest book.  –Mona Charen

McWhorter doesn’t argue there is no longer any racial discrimination in the United States, but racial discrimination is not the major problem for blacks today. Instead, it’s self-sabotage—and he’s right.  –Walter Williams

What has become clear above all is that the discussion about the proverbial “playing field” should go far beyond whether or not it is level. Enter John H. McWhorter. In a hotly debated new book, “Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America,” the 35-year-old UC Berkeley associate professor of linguistics has stepped into the already crowded fray, deconstructing race relations and dispensing political prescriptions. –Lynell George, Los Angeles Times

If, as Martin Luther King once said, self-criticism is the highest form of maturity, University of California at Berkeley Professor John H. McWhorter is one of the most mature writers around.  In “Losing The Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America,” he . . . charges blacks with being their own worst enemies in the post-civil rights era.  –Joseph H. Brown, Tampa Tribune

What is truly interesting and original about “Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America” is how Mr. McWhorter characterizes the very real and very serious problems facing much of black America, how he uses empirical data and anecdotal insight to support his proclamations, and how, like any credible socially conscious black writer, he offers recommendations for action.  –Deborah Simmons, Washington Times

Reviews of Losing the Race:

  • Clarence Page, “Victimhood and Being ‘Clarence.’”  Chicago Tribune 3-1-01, p. C19.
  • Eils Lotozo, “Striking a Nerve.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 2-7-01, p. D1.
  • Rona Marech, “Why Do Black Students Lag Behind?” The San Francisco Chronicle 2-2-01, p. EBF-1.
  • Mona Charen, “Will Anyone Listen?” The Washington Times 1-15-01, p. A13.
  • Michael A. Fletcher, “The Linguist’s Fighting Words.”  The Washington Post 1-3-01, p. C1.
  • Thomas Sowell, “Seasonal Reading Selections.”  The Washington Times 12-23-00, p. A10.
  • Bradley R. Gitz, “A Book May Be Just the Right Gift.”  Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 12-22-00, p. B9.
  • Tony Norman, “Authors on Recommended Reading List Sparkle.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12-1-00, p. C1.
  • David J. Dent, “Spelling Trouble.” The New York Times 11-26-00, p. 7-28.
  • Walter Williams, “Scholastic Expectations.”  The Washington Times 11-18-00, p. A12.
  • Linda Chavez, “Reparations Will Make Lawyers Richer.” Chicago Tribune 11-9-00, p. 31.
  • Lynell George, “Stirring Up a Rage in Black America.”  Los Angeles Times 10-17-00, p. 1.
  • Nicholas von Hoffman, “Black Scholar Turns Tables on Liberals’ Smug Assumptions.” New York Observer 10-2-00.
  • Joseph H. Brown, “Mirror Reveals Difficult Truths.”  Tampa Tribune 9-24-00, p. 4.
  • Laurence Washington, “Black Author Cuts Blacks No Slack.”  Denver Rocky Mountain News 9-17-00, p. 3E.
  • Eugene Kane, “Book Tries to Teach Harsh Lesson about Learning.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 9-14-00, p. 1B.
  • Randall Kennedy, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.” Los Angeles Times 9-3-00, p. BR-8.
  • Thomas Sowell, “No Excuse for Lack of Effort in Education.”  Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) 9-2-00, p. 13A.
  • Jabari Asim, “Blaming the Victimology.”  The Washington Post 8-22-00, p. C3.
  • Don Hudson, “Is It Stereotyping, or Honest Talk on Race Differences?” Charlotte Observer 8-13-00, p. 4D.
  • Deborah Simmons, “Why It’s Time to Stop Speaking of Black ‘Victims’ in Race Relations.”  The Washington Times 8-13-00, p. B8.
  • Leo Reisberg, “A Professor’s Controversial Analysis of Why Black Students Are ‘Losing the Race.’” The Chronicle of Higher Education 8-11-00, p. A51.



Communications Department


Book Information for Authentically Black:

ISBN: 1592400019
264 pages
ISBN: 1592400469
224 pages
Available at

Gotham Books, hardcover, 2003; paperback, 2004

Book Information for Losing the Race:

ISBN: 0684836696
304 pages
ISBN: 0060935936
320 pages
Available at

Free Press, 2000: hardcover
Perennial, 2001: paperback

Manhattan Institute