Book review of Black Rednecks and White Liberals

It’s taken me a while to get through this book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals! But that is reflective of me being exhausted at night (when I normally read) and not at all to the content of the book. This was a fascinating book that is indicative of the scholarship and wisdom of Thomas Sowell.

Black Rednecks and White Liberals

Sowell starts off the book going over the general topic of Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Obviously, this is a pertinent and divisive topic to study in our current culture. I appreciated how Sowell sought to understand the cultural differences in our country by going back through history. Not only did he analyze historical facts, he was able to explain the historical context. This is key to not only understanding the past, but how to navigate the future.

I found it so interesting that to understand the black “ghetto” culture, one needs to go back to England where technically, that culture first originated. Briefly, the migration from England to the Southern United States in colonial times came from primarily two different areas in England with two very different cultures. One was more affluent and educated, while the other (i.e. the redneck culture) was hostile, promiscuous, and disorderly (page 5). Over time, the British immigrants acclimated into the American or Northern culture. However, they affected the majority of black slaves that were brought primarily to the Southern States:

“…that culture has affected a higher proportion of the black population than of the white population, since only about one-third of all whites lived in the antebellum South, while nine-tenths of all blacks did.”

page 33

Different outcomes

The difference between the general outcomes of the British immigrants and blacks who continued to embrace the “ghetto culture” is that “pride” of many of these social ills (referred to above) within the black community was encouraged to be socially accepted by white intellectuals. They were essentially incorporated as part of the black identity.

White intellectuals encouraged blacks to embrace these social ills, and excusing it with a victimhood status rather than rejecting these negative behaviors. “More generally, a pro-black stance by white intellectuals enhances the latter’s moral standing and self-esteem, whether or not the particular manifestation of that stance helps or harms blacks on net balance” (pages 56 – 57).

Sowell emphasized that clearly, there is not a “simple linear extrapolation from the culture of Southern whites… (considering) most black Americans today are no longer part of the ghetto culture” (page 33). Nothing is that simple. But, one must consider that the few blacks who had lived their entire lives in Northern States had very different behavioral patterns than their counterparts to the South. An example of this was that “.. a study in early twentieth century Pennsylvania found that the rate of violent crimes by blacks who had migrated there was nearly five times the rate of such crimes by blacks born in Pennsylvania.” The redneck culture definitely had an effect on many Southern blacks.

Minorities around the world

Sowell goes on to cover other minorities in subsequent chapters. He first talks about Jews and middleman minorities, who often migrate from other countries seeking a better life for their families. I found it so intriguing how many of these minorities from various countries around the world followed similar patterns to success. They came with little to nothing. But they worked their way to affluence and wealth with the help of other similar minded family members. But most significantly, “…their behavior pattern (was) fundamentally different from that of the surrounding population” (page 72). They performed tasks and built businesses that others in the majority culture didn’t care to do. And by doing so, they often found great success over a long period of time.


Next, Sowell speaks to the topic of slavery. Many who have not adequately, if at all, studied history believe that slavery was a Western blight on humanity. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ever an exclusively Western idea. For centuries, people from all over the world have had slavery. Sometimes they were enslaved and at other times the same people were the enslaver.


The next topic covered was on the German people. I was surprised to know that Germans were not known to be racist against Jews prior to the era of Hitler:

Jews were so widely accepted in Germany that nearly half of all Jewish marriages there between 1921 and 1927 were marriages to people who were not Jews.

page 194

However, the Nazi regime was allowed to flourish and grow in power because first of all fear (“it was a crime punishable by death to reveal the extermination program” page 197). And second, the fact that they were essentially “seeking a political savior in a chaotic and economically depressed time” (page 200). They were ready to follow anyone who could help them out of that economic nightmare. Especially someone who confidently conducted himself and promised to help them out of their situation.

It was sobering to realize that the Germans were not unlike Americans are today. I agree with Sowell in his assessment that “the rise of such a man (i.e. Hitler) as the leader of such a people should serve as a permanent warning to all people everywhere who are charmed by charisma or aroused by rhetoric” (page 201). So true!

Black Education and History vs. Vision

The last two chapters cover Black Education and History vs. Vision – both important topics to cover, especially in the current cultural moment.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this book. It’s a fascinating read and I learned a lot! Sowell is an excellent communicator of this difficult and sometimes awkward subject, race. But his thorough and objective research is evident and beyond helpful. Although Sowell is not a Believer, he is definitely a seeker of Truth. And since we know that ALL truth is God’s Truth, I praise God for Sowell’s work in this book!

Pray for Sowell to come to know Christ, for His glory and Sowell’s good. Amen? And get your hands on this awesome book!

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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