Erasing Racism Summary
by Arthur Lee Smith Jr.

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Erasing Racism

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Molefi Kete Asante is professor of African American Studies at Temple University, and the author of more than fifty books. His knowledge of race and racism in America is sweeping, and he brings much of this knowledge to Erasing Racism: The Survival of the American Nation. There are really two powerful visions in America, Asante argues, the Promise and the Wilderness, and African Americans live for the most part in the Wilderness, without access to the Promise. In seven chapters, he details the systemic racism in America, the history of injustice towards African Americans from slavery through current cases of police brutality, and describes the “wall of ignorance” keeping this long history of racial injustice from the public consciousness.

Much of Asante’s book is a history of the abuse, but he ends with a call for unity and a six-point program for national survival. The key steps are an apology to the descendants of enslaved Africans for slavery itself, the retelling of American history in order to see the Wilderness as part of the national story, and an effort to open discussion of reparations as a way to repair that history. “I offer the suggestion that reparations will free whites from some degree of guilt and liberate African Americans from most of the heavy burden of inferiority and self-hatred rooted in the fact that the nation has never apologized for the historical abuse measured out to their ancestors.” Americans need to listen to Asante’s arguments and confront the tough truths within them.