Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 181

"Character" is a term almost exclusively evoked in fiction. Non-fiction lacks a similar vocabulary. However, for the purposes of your question we can discuss many of the main figures that appear in Race Matters.

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In this seminal collection of eight essays, Dr. Cornel West wades into debates around the racial antagonisms that still animate American life. West's goal is to ground dense theoretical debates in everyday lived experience, so he begins the book with an anecdote about a failed attempt to hail a taxi. Not one, two, three, but ten empty taxis neglected to stop for the well-dressed, Ivy League educated professor. West knew exactly why they didn't stop for him. It was because he is African-American—"race matters."

In an attempt to unearth the logic of institutional racism and the black experience in America, West critically assess figures like Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Martin Luther King Jr., and W. E. B. Dubois. However, the main character of this book is none other than the author himself. West's critical analysis of race still reverberates in discussions on this debate 25 years later.

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