“Mr. Kennedy, a Harvard Law School professor, is black, and part of what has driven him to write this book is being called a sellout himself on occasion (…)
“That judgment would be impossible for anyone who actually read the book, and, in Sellout, Mr. Kennedy issues a call to wield that term more thoughtfully. He is dismayed at the ‘appalling sloppiness’ with which so many use the label, and even suggests that ‘errant accusers should be made to feel the pain of ostracism just as their targets do.’ I can’t help enjoying that scenario myself, as a black thinker who is often called a sellout by people who have never acknowledged my regularly calling attention to programs that help black poor people or, actually, read more than a shard or two of what I have ever written or said.
“The notion that there are ‘Uncle Toms’ rubbing their hands together and taking money from ‘the white man’ is, in a word, primitive. It resembles the reasoning style of preliterate cultures, which rely on mythical archetypes and unquestioning Manichaean dichotomies as the only way to make sense of the complexities of existence within a prescientific mindset.
“Black Americans are surely more intellectually advanced than this…”