Here's an excerpt of the review from Lawrence Otis Graham's Member of the Club:
Most of Member of the Club is just as eager to examine black culture, and often upper-class black culture in particular (though his last investigative piece, "Harlem on My Mind", has him renting an apartment in the scuzzy part of Harlem for a month, a courageous attempt to experience the other side). In particular, the second essay, "I Never Dated a White Girl", is as spectacular in its thoughtful, panoramic but memoir-centered way as "Invisible Man" is in its investigative one. Whites don't come off well here either, mind you: he quotes a 1992 Gallup survey in which only 10% of whites, _by their own admission_, would approve of one of their family members marrying outside their own race. (Slight correction from above, btw: my friend Adam has a black father, although you'd never guess from looking at Adam) While the excuses Graham has heard include the bit of bluster that I was guessing -- "We want to protect them from the pain of _other_ people's racism" -- it turns out that white people have also been willing to tell Graham of their fears that "black-white mixed genes could compromise the development of what would otherwise be an intelligent white child". But "...White Girl" is also about why the majority of blacks disapprove of interracial dating and marriages. The disapproval shows up more than just in polls: he starts the chapter with a cryptic party conversation that starts with a woman asking "What do Clarence Thomas, Montel Williams, Diana Ross, Shelby Steele, Marian Wright Edelman, and Shair Belafonte all have in common?", and continues with increasing discouragement with the other party guests tossing in more names ("Don't forget Berry Gordy, Barry Bonds, and our so-called godfather of soul, James Brown") until a confused white guest figures out the game and confronts them: black figures married to whites. He objects, of course, to the game and its air of criticism. Statistically, it's 90% likely that the white man and his equally annoyed white girlfriend wouldn't let anyone in their family date a black -- but that doesn't make the objection go away. Graham's long answer to why blacks feel that way (he comes up with six reasons), and his account of his own decision to never date whites, is not self-righteous; it acknowledges the hypocrisy, takes its roots seriously, and is ultimately a serious, convincing work that knows its irony. Quicker takes: another chapter of Member of the Club examines the condition of black leadership. Yes, I think Graham transparently wants to be a black leader himself, and would be more graceful to admit it, but he's still right to be insulted when (to pick a random example) Esquire commissioned twenty articles for its 60th anniversary issue: nineteen prestigious white writers like William F. Buckley, Jimmy Breslin, and Norman Mailer, and one semi-literate black dropout: Ice-T. Graham quotes enough of Ice-T's piece to make it clear that he's not rejecting it purely from snobbery; and his ideas on how to improve black leadership are thoughtful, original, and have nada to do with waiting for white assistance. Also available: a pure memoir piece, often self-damning as grownups can be about their youth, on his attendance at Princeton University, a Confederate holdout in New Jersey. A surprisingly entertaining satire of suburban blacks (of which, of course, he is one). A field guide to the species "Head N*gger in Charge" (the one or two blacks a company will hire to prove that they're okay with black people). Short takes on the continued existence of the black lunch table -- which, when he was in high school, he blamed on the blacks (as did I) -- and on being a black man with a nose job, which would have a hard time getting my sympathy even if the nose he chose for himself wasn't so appalling. And there's one wise piece of surprising optimism: "Moving from Black Rage to Bias Neutralizing". One reason why whites should care about race, even if racism seems only to benefit us, is the then-timely creation of the "black rage" legal defense, supported by 60% of blacks in another Gallup poll: in December 1993, Colin Ferguson, a black NYC commuter, killed six white and wounded nineteen in a spree, then was defended (by William Kunstler no less) on the grounds that constant discrimination had rendered him temporarily insane and not-guilty. Obviously, to me and to Graham and i hope to you, the creation of excuses for random killing is not good. Graham's piece, though hard to summarize, tries to explain and challenge the mindset that leads to this sort of black rage. It also tells, uniquely in the book, some of what Graham does for a living: we see him consulting a well-meaning accounting firm that, though 99% white, honestly believes it is looking for qualified minorites and not finding them. Examining their recruitment patterns, he finds out (1) that they are recruiting almost entirely from the same colleges their founders and leaders went to, a very white population, and (2) that while black applicants had poorer 4-year college GPA's, that deficit was entirely the result of their first three semesters, catching up from putrid underfunded segregated public high schools. (Note, by implication, that blacks have an overall disadvantage getting into college, since their deficits disappear so quickly) By considering a wider range of colleges, and considering GPA only after the first three semesters, the firm magically created a wide minority talent pool. Ta-da! Graham idealistically tries to re-design affirmative action's justification for us: not a penalty for past white sins, which he says is unfortunately how blacks tend to think of it too, but as a permanent system designed only to compensate, as closely as possible, for the advantages (familial, financial, restaurantal etc) that no nonwhite race fully has. He's often quite specific. He's probably tilting at windmills, too; I'm sure I am. This book will not be required reading, except for a scattered college class here and there. But anyone who does read it, I hope, can be a slightly better and kinder citizen. That should be worth plenty.