I’m writing to highlight a book by Ron Peden, entitled Notes on the State of America: Black to the Future, or White from the Past? (Cambridge, Mass.: OAU Publishing, 2008).

Ron is a writer and activist here in the Boston area, and he has graciously taken the time to comment on this blog regarding his concerns over the DeWolf family and Traces of the Trade.

In Notes on the State of America, Ron writes powerfully and eloquently about the impact of our history of slavery and discrimination on racial inequality today.

For instance, Ron writes the following about how we have ignored the pivotal role of slavery in our nation’s development:

Namely, like it or not, slavery was a crucial part of this country’s economic growth and development, without which America could not claim any semblance of the preeminent position it occupies in today’s world order. Yet, not without good reason, we look upon slavery with curiosity, shame, disgust and regret. … It’s time to stop pretending slavery didn’t happen, or was simply an isolated episode of misfortune in American history, and instead acknowledge its cornerstone contribution to the America we know today.

Ron is also a strong advocate for the view that Obama’s election must not become an excuse to avoid addressing racial justice, which is an issue that I agree with and have written about recently.

I don’t agree with all of Ron’s recommendations for addressing our nation’s persistent racial inequality. In particular, he argues forcefully that reparations for slavery are necessary, and he suggests that even more radical solutions may be appropriate. I do believe, though, that his book represents an important part of our national conversation about race, and it’s easy to see why Cornel West observed about the book (as he is quoted on OAU’s web site), “Don’t miss it!”

The introduction to Notes on the State of America is currently available to read online here.

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