What Makes a Black Sellout?

New book defends Clarence Thomas, complicates race debate: Salon
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2008 8:59 PM CST

(Newser) – A black intellectual's new book, Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal, goes easy on Clarence Thomas for dissing the very affirmative action that helped him succeed, Salon's James Hannaham writes. Does that make Sellout author Randall Kennedy a sellout? Maybe Kennedy is able to do what free-thinking blacks must: "separate what we think from what our comrades of color expect us to believe,” Hannaham writes.

Kennedy absolves Thomas, arguing that he doesn't purposely hurting black causes and has a right to an opinion. Kennedy may disagree with him, but lets the Supreme Court justice “squeak under the gate,” Hannaham writes. Ultimately, Sellout complicates the question of race betrayal by drawing a line between what Hannaham calls “dissent and disloyalty.”