Who is to blame for America’s sordid racial history?

From The Washington Post:

SELLOUT: The Politics of Racial Betrayal By Randall Kennedy

Book In a 1963 speech Malcom X distilled black America’s long history of social and political struggle into two simple yet enduring composites: House Negroes and Field Negroes. Field Negroes bore the brunt of racial oppression from antebellum slavery to the civil rights era’s high tide, while House Negroes craved white approval, shared secrets with racial oppressors and generally aided and abetted white supremacy. They were the race traitors, the sellouts, the Uncle Toms.

“Suspicions regarding racial betrayal continue to be omnipresent,” writes Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy in his slim but thought-provoking Sellout, which challenges conventional understanding of what exactly constitutes racial betrayal. American history is filled with instances in which prominent, successful blacks have been categorized as race traitors. While Booker T. Washington is often regarded as the quintessential “sellout” by some critics, prominent figures such as W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey also found their allegiance to black progress under question despite seemingly unassailable records as iconic “race men.”

Kennedy seeks to complicate standard discussions of racial betrayal by questioning the underlying assumptions behind such accusations. Were slaves who informed about plans for impending rebellion Uncle Toms or pragmatists unwilling to sacrifice friends and family for insurrections that seemed doomed to failure?

More here.