Disintegration: Post-Discussion Commentary

Yesterday, the Hue-Man Book Club had it’s first meeting of the year to discuss by Eugene Robinson Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America. First off, I want to thank Hue-Man Bookstores and the Book Club for having me as guest facilitator for this important book. It was an engaging experience. I started off the conversation with a short summation of Robinson’s premise of 4 disparate Black America’s and whether or not people agreed with his breakdown.

To that effect, the participants commented, and in consensus agreed with the categories put forth by the author, while some added that there is a great deal of room for gray areas. As we discussed issues of class in the Black community, and what it meant to be Mainstream, a few noted that there is a good amount of overlap.

As things went on, the discussion turned to the issues of economic empowerment and how in too many cases there isn’t enough of it going on in our community. This, along with the question of the Transcendant, was a balanced back and forth on what the different sub-groups represent. The thing I definitely enjoyed about the conversation last night is that Disintegration brings out a discussion on class issues that often aren’t touched upon. While it has been dealt with in many other works like E. Franklin Frazier’s Black Bourgeoisie and to a certain extent Our Kind of People by Lawrence Otis Graham, this is still somewhat of an issue that people avoid.

There was a great deal more said, but I feel it would be a bit tedious to recap exactly what was said in the 2 hour discussion. Instead, I will share with you the discussion questions that framed the conversation. Perhaps it will inspire a separate blog post from one of the attendees, or comments on this one. For those of you who haven’t read the book, one of the questions includes a quote.  Again, thank you all for coming out last night, and feel free to fill in where I left out. Thank you.

  1. Do you agree with Robinson’s premise that Black America is fractured into 4 parts?
  2. Is it possible to look at the past of Black America when we were more united, without a distorted sense of nostalgia for Jim Crow?  Was integration a good thing?
  3. In Eugene Robinson’s book, he highlights the Transcendent as standing separate from the rest of Black America. Is there something wrong with this approach? And do you feel as though some use the success of the few to downplay the plight of the many?
  4. Do you think there are greater forces out there that are very much interested in the Black community becoming more and more atomized?
  5. Why did the urban areas become “dysfunctional and dangerous” in Robinson’s view?
  6. Do you agree with Robinson’s assertion that the “Abandoned” need to embrace gentrification?
  7. What are some solutions to the divisions in the Black community? If any?
  8. Will the different Black Americas ever see eye to eye? Is it a desireable goal?
  9. “Today only about 20 percent of Black college students are attending historically Black colleges and universities” Disintegration, p. 103 Has Black America abandoned it’s own institutions as a result of integration?
  10. At the end of the book, Robinson maintains that “our fundamental rights are secure” Does this assertion hold in light of the recent case with Kelley Williams-Bolar?

Marc W. Polite

Guest Facilitator, Hue-Man Book Club

P.S.- The next Book Club Discussion will be on Feb. 28th. For Black History Month, we will be reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X


  1. Great post Marc. Indeed this discussion could probably go for hours, and the problems that exist within the Black community are numerous and vast. I really don’t think that there will ever be a consensus among the four entities Robinson writes about in his book. However, there can a rise in one’s consciousness and awareness as to how all of us are affected by the pollutants of this society. We cannot begin to work together if we do not love and trust each other and really mean it.

  2. Thank you Taneeka. This discussion is ongoing. We must begin to work together in my opinion. If we don’t, we will continue to suffer inordinately. As you said, it takes trust to even begin the process.

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