"sarah a. gill-branion" <> Tie that Binds Review (Sarah Gill-Branion)
Eddie Okelley <> The Tie That Binds (Eddie O'Kelley)
Gary Klass <> The Tie That Binds (Joe Jezewski)
Maureen N Kaszonyi <> THE TIE THAT BINDS (Kaszonyi)
Ian Garrett <ijgarre@ILSTU.EDU>The Tie That Binds Book Review
Justin Mayo <jdmayo@ILSTU.EDU>Review of The Tie That Binds

Andrea Y. Simpson, The Tie That Binds: Identity and Political Attitudes in the Post-Civil Rights Generation (NYU Press, 1998)
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 12:12:35 -0500
From: "sarah a. gill-branion" <>
Subject: Tie that Binds Review (Sarah Gill-Branion)

By Sarah a. Qill-Branion

Beginning with the Acknowledgments, the author explained how one rejected hypothesis caused her to probe deeper into the question "What does it mean to be black [in America]?" Andrea Y. Simpson says that, "being black is the tie that binds." Appendix A explained her codified research design, which enabled the author to use fictitious names while allowing the reader to understand to what demographic, socioeconomic status, and political party a college student (interviewee) belonged. For example, the historically black institutions fictitious names began with the letter "B" while the majority white ones began with the letter "W." Intervieweeís names began much the same way according to their respective ideological groups (conservatives, moderates, and liberals).

Throughout chapters 2-5, she explained how race was still an important issue politically. Ms. Simpson delineated the categories in which blacks were. She described the differences between conservatives, moderates, and liberals. Two kinds of conservatives have emerged from the post-civil rights generation within the black community. The first believed in small government, free markets, and personal responsibility, the second believed in less government, free markets, personal responsibility, and the conservation of black culture through separation. Through her studies the author came to the conclusion that blacks did not fit into the same GOP box as white republicans did because they were not wanted there.

However, because they believed that democrats had only made the economic situation of blacks worse, the first batch of black republicans remained true to the platform. While staying true to the Republican Platform, the first batch of black conservative interviewees, whom the author calls the "Republican Race Men," became frustrated with the assumptions of others that all blacks are "ghetto" blacks, or that they were not independent. Abstaining from a "black identity of ghetto blacks," the political goal of these interviewees was to have unity in purpose as opposed to focusing on conceptual differences within the black community. Simpson seemed to be saying that their purpose was to become their own conservative entity within the Republican Party apart from the white conservatives.

A shared experience of oppression only began to define black identity that was embraced by the second batch of black republican interviewees otherwise known as "old school" conservatives. "Old school" conservatives who were black tended to support integration because separatism hinted at the negativity segregation caused in the South. Religion in the South increasingly lent itself to the "old school" conservative ideals of civil participation. The author appeared to be saying that black "old school" conservatives embraced the Southern religious movement, which was against a black separatist entity within the Republican Party. The interviewees gave credence to the conservative notions organized-religions upheld on moral and cultural issues.

Moderate students interviewed in Chapter 4 linked aspects of race and life experience with parental influence and education. Their political socialization appeared to be shaped by history, subtle racist experiences, and socioeconomic status. They do not ignore racial issues such as Affirmative Action, but they do have a tendency to refrain from supporting the black side of an issue just because they are black.

Liberal black students interviewed held the government responsible for the problems and the solutions within the black community. They held whites responsible for the disparity between black and white cultures. The black liberals interviewed contended that whites imbedded a dividing mind-set in the black community based on gender, race, and socioeconomic status. The divisive socialization distorted black identity and fanned the fires of self-doubt. Simpson pointed out that how the student-intervieweeís racial identities were developed determined their political attitudes. 

For example, two female interviewees were less liberal on moral and cultural issues than on issues about governmental programs. The author suggested that the racial/political agenda of the Liberal Party might be affected because the black liberals selectively determined which issues were liberal or conservative based on the development of their racial/political identities. Simpson appeared to suggest that the "ties that bind" blacks were the strands of life that all blacks share but had no name. 

This nameless identity should have been the Black Identity, allowing all blacks the ability to form solidarity on political, gender; socioeconomic, religious, and humane based issues that all blacks share. She implied that a White Identity established the liberal, moderate, and conservative political platforms. The integration of blacks into these political platforms weakened Black Identity, effectively preventing black solidarity.

Simpson clearly states that integration weakens identity. She does so by showing research results in the forms of charts and graphs, providing statements of black student-interviewees, and various implications hinting at a belief in separatism. She establishes debatable but strong arguments to the reader. The readerís racial/political identity ironically determines the credence of her arguments. Andrea Y. Simpsonís "The Tie That Binds Identity in Political Attitudes in the Post-Civil Rights Generation" is a book worth reading and recommending because it provides insight into the black identity which lacks a black prospectus.

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Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 07:55:31 -0500
From: Eddie Okelley <>
Subject: The Tie That Binds (Eddie O'Kelley)

Reviewed by: Eddie O'kelley 

The Tie That Binds Identity and Political Attitudes in the Post-Civil Rights Generation, is a book by Andrea Y. Simpson that explores exactly that, the diverse views of African-American college students in a post-civil rights era. Simpson takes a look at racial group identity, the race she focus on is the African race, the group she gets her research from are college-educated and the question she is raising to these students is, "Do you know your identity?" Or simply, "What does it means to be black?" She also, points out that the answers she receives from this group is very much diverse, and these diverse answers is how this group's political attitudes are being defined. What she finds is that this groups environment, class and real life experiences with racism is what helps shape these individuals define their beliefs about what it means to be black.

Andrea Simpson starts out her book by talking about the recent emergence of the black conservatives in America. She talks about how members of this group have even started to split because of their differences on certain political issues, such as affirmative action, even though they both believe in self-help and individual responsibility. She asks questions about, "What role has integration played in this emergence of black conservatism?" and "What are the possible political outcomes of these phenomena?" Looking into this further, "identity" is explained as the feeling that is shared by the closeness of blacks to the degree to which each member believes that society has or is oppressing them as a group. Assimilation is discussed with the belief that you cannot speak about identity without assimilation being mention. Here she defines the meaning behind this concept.

Assimilation was to make easier the understanding and acceptance of the black identity. Even though this concept has good intentions it has failed in that it is perceived as the desertion of ones cultural identity. This concept is given greater attention in where she points out next, in who has followed or ventured on their own, by showing charts that reflect these differences.

Class and race is discussed in that there is great differences between blacks. Simpson makes it known through graphs and statistics by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, that the middle class blacks and the poorer class blacks differences are more than just financial and job title. Family structure is looked at, as a difference, which might be a direct result that accounts for such large differences in the first place. The post-civil rights generation, which is starting to be known as the "integration generation" doesn't have the same experiences as others before them. However, they have still been hit by a burst of a new form of racism, one that is more hidden not in your face, but just as demeaning and more powerful. This form of racism has just gotten stronger through time, which she explains the reasons why, next.

Andrea Simpson goes on to mention that even though blacks have been in this country almost as long as whites, and longer than other minority groups, blacks have not assimilated mainly due to the overwhelming, constant discrimination. This discrimination comes from a history of enslavement, in which generations of whites were not only justifying, but also believing the notion that black were not people because of their color difference, but rather property. This not only caused blacks to start believing this, but also other minority groups believed this too. This brought on the ability to bring on any other negative stereotype towards blacks, that still linger today. Europeans were able shed a lot of their racial stereotypes because they learned the language, drop their accents and even change their names which made it easier to fit in to the mainstream.

Blacks on the other hand were not able to hide their racial group membership as easily, because of the color of their skin. This stereotyping of blacks not being as good as whites is continued throughout the heartbeat of America and has filtered itself subconsciously through the minds of others, this is where there seems to be a major problem that blacks cannot compete without help. These inaccurate beliefs have not only settled in the minds of non-blacks, but it manifested itself inside the minds of some blacks. These attitudes are expressed in greater detail where she interviews students from a variety of colleges and from different political backgrounds.

She takes a unique approach to keep the names of the colleges and names of students and faculty confidential. She does this by having all historical black colleges (HBC'S) begin with a "B" and white-majority colleges begin with a "W." She also breaks down the student's political background with their first names, "C" stands for conservative while "M" represents moderate and "L" meaning the views of a liberal. Her book then goes on to take the path it was intended for, finding out through interviews the beliefs from the ("integration generation") students about racial group identity, their political attitudes while trying to answer the question from their perspective of what it means to be black?

She starts out by first interviewing students who consider themselves members of The Black Nationalist Conservatives. She asks them questions such as, "Is there such thing as a black identity?" These students answered, "no." She followed up by asking, "If there is no such thing as a black identity, why do you enter a room and go immediately to all the black people in the room?" They give an honest answer that's followed by another question. She goes on to ask the same and other questions to different students, who also consider themselves conservatives.

She interviewed students who consider themselves to be from the "old school" conservative way of thinking---The Young Black Republicans. She explains how they differ from the other conservatives and asks them questions to get an understanding of what their opinions are on certain issues. Her book continues in the following chapters dealing with conservatives and their views, however, now she addresses traditional conservatism of the South and the struggle against black stereotypes. Here she talks to southern conservatives to get their views on issues concerning them and the rest of black America. Instead of talking to one group on the right then going to the left she mixes it up by even interviewing students who consider themselves to be in the middle.

Simpson confronts six moderates the same way she does the conservatives. Here she finds out that from one individual there is a constant stigma of inferiority by others in her mind to do well. However, this is not the typical form of innocent competition, there is this inner pressure from within to perform. This causes greater stress in this students life instead of relaxing and taking control of the situation that arise, she feels this sense that she always has to be on her P's and Q's when out in society. While at school there is this constant inner pressure of performing better than her white counterparts. Another student brought to the table that they go through life not really thinking about what she has in common with other blacks. Rather, she goes life with the ideal of controlling her own fate by doing the right thing.

I found this to be an interesting student in that she mentions that during the O.J. Simpson trial there seemed to be an issue that had the victim been a black woman the trial might have not received as much attention as it did. The reason she states is that "There appears to be by society a value placed on people and people's lives. By the victim being a white woman a higher value was placed on her living or dying compared to maybe an African-American woman living or dying." This young lady did not believe in black identity and that she was unsure of if her fate was tied to the fate of other blacks. She felt that her heart tells her she may be subjected to the same fate as others while her head tells her this is far from the truth. She used her job as a basis for this belief in that she comes into contact with a lot of poor young black woman on her job, however, when she sees them she realizes that besides being members of the same race she has very little in common with them.

This group of moderates believed that the media and middle class blacks both have to be held accountable for helping the poorer class blacks. They felt the media had to stop providing these negative images of blacks to the masses, that this only reinforces the negative stereotype of blacks as a whole. One individual felt that more needs to be done within the black community to help find solutions to their own black problems. Simpson summarizes the overall thoughts of this group like she does in her earlier interviews. She then begins to switch her focus to the Liberals.

Andrea Simpson first interviews a student that has an extreme view on some issues that affect blacks. He basically believes that white are primarily responsible for the problems of blacks by the past oppression they have committed. Next, Simpson goes on to hear from a student who has a touch of feminism in her. When she was asked what it means to be black she states' "That it is the bond of coming from Africa and that each member feels this sense of their people being conquered, and the richness of their ancestry." Simpson goes on to interview a few more students with pretty much the same scenario.

They all tend to deal with identity and integration in different ways and at different times in their lives. Andrea Simpson believes that through her research not only is race the primary dominating issue facing blacks like in the past, but rather class and gender is on the fore front and inter-linked with race and must be considered when discussing this issue. The Tie That Binds or rather as I said earlier the color of ones skin is what binds African-Americans together. This is the thinking that this is the one thing that cannot be taken away from you, that nobody wants-being black in America.

I found this book to be very insightful on how my peers from other campuses feel about racism. Andrea Simpson produced a very creative book that was an enjoyment to read. I found it quite interesting in reading about how other students with different political backgrounds view this subject. Her book was very easy to understand and well written, This is a book that many of my peers would love to read, because she touches so many bases with regards to different political viewpoints of students just like me. I did get some insight into the question of what it means to be black. Although I did not look at some of the issues that were raised in the same way as others, I can say that now I understand their perspective even if I do not agree with them. By understanding where people are coming from then progress can than be made.

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Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999:32:26 -0500
From: Gary Klass <>
Subject: The Tie That Binds (Joe Jezewski)

 Reviewed by: Joe Jezewski 

When I first came to Illinois State two years ago, I had high expectations of what a big college might be like. I thought that there would be some type of unity among the races, but I was proven to be a very naÔve person. This book addresses all of the issues that have been talked about during our time in class when we dealt with racial relations. I wonder what Martin Luther King Jr. would think of us today?

This book does a good job summarizing the main points that have to do with being a black person in today's society. It touches on most of the issues that have plagued racial minorities in the past decades. She talks about assimilation and how it has had a psychological effect on blacks. She also talks about black unity and how there is a generation gap between the people that grew up around segregation and the people that have grown up around integration. 

The book consists of surveys that were conducted to certain college students, and to ensure their confidentiality, their names were changed. For example, if you were white your name would start with a w and if you were black your name would start with a b. The main idea of this book is that she tried to focus on the things that would make the students respond the way they did. What type of factors influenced their decisions in life and how have they come to those conclusions?

One of the main points she talks about is the idea of assimilation and how it has effected the black community. She says, and I quote, " Assimilation is perceived as the abandonment of the core identity of the individual as a concession in the cold war for cultural dominanceÖ.The goal of integration was not to eliminate the cultural identity of blacks, but to facilitate an understanding and acceptance of the identity." I don't believe that blacks have tried to assimilate into the "white community" as a whole. They have had to in a sense that they would want to get a better job and go somewhere in this country. I think that it is wrong that they have been forced to lose their identity because the majority of the country cannot come to terms with the fact that black culture deserves just as much attention as the white culture. 

I would say that assimilation is a strong word to use to describe what blacks have had to go through. When I think of assimilation, I think of the complete and total change of one culture to another. I don't believe this to be true. Blacks have still kept their sense of culture to an extent, but I don't see this getting any better unless there is something done about the race relations in this country. She also says that African-Americans have not assimilated largely because of continuing discrimination. 

She puts the blame strictly on slavery and the stereotypes that have stemmed from the slavery institution. You have to ask yourself, "Is it the right thing to do tot try and assimilate?" Many scholars have pondered that issue and have not come up with an answer, so I'm not even going to try. I believe that the idea of assimilation is a key ingredient on the influence of the way people today have shaped their views on racial unity in this country.

She also talks about African-American conservatives that have achieved national prominence. She believes that there are two types of conservatives in this country related to blacks, the first is the product of the Reagan-Bush era, who believes in the free market, small government, and personal responsibility as the formula for a good life. The other kind is also a believer in the free market, less reliance on government, personal responsibility , and is influenced by black nationalism. 

The second one is also believes in the conservation of the African-American culture and to the extent of some type of separation of the current African-American culture. These two types of conservatives that she states both hold some interesting views. The second seems to be more of a main stream conservative, meaning that they want to conserve everything that has either held this country or their culture together. The first is more of what could be seen as the white idea of conservatism, because they believe in a lot of things that have made this country what it is today with the idea of capitalism.

I was having trouble trying to figure out what she exactly meant by the tie that binds. I first thought that it was something that had to deal with the racial integration among people. But I soon found out that it meant a whole lot of other things. I think that it mainly concerns itself with the conservation of the black culture and the realization of other cultures into this society. The tie that binds is different for every culture and identity. Its what you want as a culture that makes you stand out from everybody else. The idea of throwing out the stereotypes and accepting people and their culture for what they are.

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Date: Mon, 3 May 1999:34:45 -0500
From: Maureen N Kaszonyi <>
Subject: THE TIE THAT BINDS (Kaszonyi)

Reviewed by: Maureen Kaszonyi

Common struggles bring people together, and like foe helps to forge friendships. The black members of the civil rights generation in America had a purpose; they shared the struggle to integrate and to be accepted in the mainstream culture. They came together to oppose racism and through their strife helped to define what it meant to be a black American. Black Americans have historically shared a common bond, being black, brings with it a history of oppression and hope.

But, is this bond felt by black members of the post-civil rights generation. Without a common purpose, largely believing that racism is a sin of the past and disillusioned by unfulfilled promises of white America, what does "being black," mean today? Simpson interviewed young black college students across the political spectrum to find out, "what it means to be black to members of a generation that many hoped would never have to ponder such a question" (1).

The first interviews Simpson presents are of conservative blacks, she calls "Republican Race Men." Like many Republicans, these students come from upper-middle class, two parent households. Their households happen to be very traditional as both of them cite the presence of a strong father figure (33). They are optimistic about opportunities awaiting them, products of the Reagan-Bush Era they believe in the free market and are active members of the Young Republicans. Currently, they are very excited about the "sweat-equity politics" of Jack Kemp. Both students were integrated with whites at an early age and had substantial friendships with them.

Yet, even though they hesitate to shout "Racism" they feel alienated from many of their previous white friends and have, in large part rejected them. Further, although they do not identify with whites they do not feel there is a common black culture. One student states When I walk into a room I know I have nothing in common with those people [whites]. More than likely, Iíll have something in common with at least one [black] person there- and even if I donít, itís a lot easier for me to disagree with [blacks] than it is to disagree with [whites]. (36)

The "Republican Race Men," like all the conservative students interviewed, attend historically black colleges. They feel that attending black institutions have been a liberating experience in terms of expressing their political views and individuality. There, there is no pressure to "fit the mold" of what people think being black means, they do not feel pressure to "create a unified front" that many blacks at majority white institutions reported. One student articulates his rejection of afro-centric unity by stating, "Even if Iím wrong, even if weíre both wrong, we have to be there [together] no matter what" (40). Moreover, Simpson writes In majority white environments, the racial tie that binds grows tighter. In majority black environments it comforts and redeems the individual within, freeing each one to discover his or her own truths about race (146).

These students do not feel strongly attached to blacks in general but do feel it is their responsibility to help them, help themselves. For them, "individuals are in control, and systemic inequities may be overcome" (44). If blacks canít make it in America it is because they did not try. Other students interviewed were also conservative but Simpson deemed them, "Old School Conservatives," by this she meant, they were more conservative on moral and cultural issues that he Republican Race Men were. They also more readily accept the notion of a black identity than the other conservative students do. The qualification for accepting "black identity" is the idea that it is very diverse, they do not believe acting "ghetto" equal being "black." According to them, someone can wear a three-piece suit, speak white and still have a black identity (45). One student states that the "black identity" comes from sharing a history of oppression (49).

These students, like the Republican Race Men, shared the effects of an upper class upbringing and a strong father figure in their lives that helped shape their political attitudes. Further, these students also happen to attend historically black colleges, which has certainly effected their ability to express their conservative views. Both of these students express frustration with experiences with whites and exhibit a skepticism about their motives.

They reason that blacks cannot look to whites for help since they are the ones who oppressed them in the first place. They belong to the Republican Party but say of their membership Just like there are white people in the NAACP, white people here at Barnett, watching us seeing what weíre doing. There are black people watching the Republicans, and seeing what theyíre doing (51).

More cynicism of whites is expressed when the same student jokes that separatism is not the answer for blacks because; "A black state would be too easy to pick off." To them, the reason black people donít make it in America is because, "they did not take the initiative to move on" (52). The last group of conservative students interviewed was conservative because they came from regions, like the south, or rural areas, with strong traditions of conservatism. Unlike the first two groups of conservative students they had not experienced integration at an early age, growing up in the segregated south they had not had much contact with white people. The strong role of religion in the lives of these young people also helped shape their conservative views. 

This group is more diverse than the previous two because it includes a women who is liberal on womenís rights issues and also attends a majority white institution. Overall, they are much more tolerant of social issues than the other conservative students.

Only one student is conscious of his racial identity a great deal of the time and feels that his fate is strongly linked to the fate of the black community. The other two express feelings that they are connected to the black community only "somewhat." Although, they recount experiences that many would deem racist, they are hesitant to make that distinction. Two of these group members do not support affirmative action initiatives. One replies to the affirmative action question by stating, "if blacks donít make it, it is because they donít try hard enough (68). They do not tend to support government solutions like racism to problems within the black community. 

The only intervention that is seen as really positive is increasing the minimum wage. Altogether, they blend a message of self-help for blacks with one of community responsibility. One says, "[blacks need] the proper nourishment, as well as the proper tools for succeeding. Those tools are a proper education, combined with a community support system (65).

The last two conservative students Simpson writes about are those that come from wealthy families, again with strong father figures. They live a contradictory life-style for, although they are certainly upper class, they feel that their skin color betrays their status. One young woman in this group remarks that growing up in an affluent community she has internalized all the negative stereotypes about black people. This has made it very hard for her to identify with other blacks. Although she currently is very resentful and hateful of whites, she also struggled very much with the fact that she was black and opts to wear light colored contact and synthetic hair extensions.

To her there is no black identity she observes Race is a very tedious description to me. What does that mean blacks have to define [black identity] individually for themselves. There is no standard for blackness (72). Further, since she has very dark skin, she ahs endured racism from other members of the black community, which has led to participation in multi-cultural clubs where she feels more accepted.

Politically, she is liberal on certain social issues concerning women; she does not liberal views concerning welfare, affirmative action or responsibility to help blacks out of poverty. She thinks that one of the biggest problems black currently have is their mind-set which blames "the white man" for everything.The next group of students presented were those deemed to be moderate on issues concerning race.

It includes three women and three men. Simpson points out the commonalties among them. She relates First, all but one are solidly middle class; second, they have not experienced much discrimination; third, all but two attend majority-white institutions; and fourth, all point to the failure of both whites and blacks to solve racial problems (81).

This group also did not share the characteristic of mostly coming from two-parent households and having strong father figures, as the majority of conservative students had. Simpson believes that these students have a tendency to ignore or diminish adverse affect of race in their lives. They are inclined to be very individualistic and donít think that racism can be used as an excuse for not succeeding. On the other hand, they can point to such things as sub-standard education for blacks holding them back. One student relates, "In my city you cannot come out of a public school socially ready to function in this society. You just donít have the background. You donít have it" (84).

Another student expresses an interesting mix of conservative and liberal ideas when she explains that black people havenít made it in America because, "opportunities were not available to them, or they didnít take advantage of the opportunities that were available to them" (87). Again, there is a skepticism of the ability of government to improve the condition of blacks. Consider one studentís remarks When are you going to realize that you canít expect the people who got you into these situations to get you out...If they wanted to get you out, they wouldnít have put you there in the first place. . I blame a lot of the problems in our community on ourselves...we have a long way to go (98).

Even though these students do not all claim to share a racial identity with other blacks they do believe that it is the responsibility of middle class blacks to "give a hand up" and help impoverished blacks.One student in this group does say that he has experienced overt racism in high school placement and at other times in his life. Thus, he was the most apt to claim that he thinks about "being black" a lot and states that there is a black identity. He states, "Experiences with discrimination bind all blacks (89). In his mind, it does not matter how successful you are; white America will always have a negative image of you.

This sense of not fully being accepted at their majority white institutions has reinforced the ideal of helping other blacks and helped create unity among these students. Perhaps another outgrowth of attending majority white institutions, is that although they profess to believing in a black identity they are very adverse to black stereotyping. There is a consensus that education is what the black community needs that the government can only provide a limited amount of help. One moderate student relays It really boils down to education overall. Because if someone is educated, they can always move forward because they want to move forward. Thatís what education does for you (98).

The last group of students represented the liberals along the ideological scale. They expressed much more frustration with whiteís than either the conservatives or the moderates interviewed. This is a large group of students who were mostly from single parent households, only two of them attend historically black universities and most of them are from lower income backgrounds (105).

Many of them experienced integration early in their lives but felt that race had become more important to them as they grew older and rejected friendship with whites. All of them can relate instances of racism and were much more forthcoming about them than the students in any of the other groups were. For those that attend majority white institutions many feel that racist attitudes and stereotypes isolated them from the social scene. This isolation has helped to forge a strong feeling of black identity and unity.

One student explains We are all a family even though we are spread across the Earth. I just feel there is a link somewhere inside. [There is an unspoken rule that blacks must acknowledge each other when they meet, whether they know each pother or not. We pull ourselves together for the sake of being together] (110). >From the above excerpt we can see that these students believe that what happened to other blacks effects them a lot and the fate of all blacks is tied together. These students are apt to believe that the government and whites have been guilty of oppressing blacks in the past and should be accountable for helping them out now. This does not mean, though, that they articulate a sense of trust towards whites. 

They think that programs like affirmative action and welfare are viable and needed. They also think that the government has a major responsibility to improve education in the black community. Indeed, most of these students have been frustrated with experiences of academic difficulty at majority white institutions. At least one instance can be ascribed to blatant racism on the part of a professor, but many others can be attributes to internalized feelings of inferiority or the disadvantage of coming from an inferior education system. One student asserts, "Poor blacks are victims of a poor public education system. Educational one aspect of the system that is harmful to black students" (123).

Itís hard to come up with concrete theories about race from this book because you have competing factors like socioeconomic status, class, majority white or majority black college attendance. Further confounding things, is the fact that these respondents are quite young and probably still developing ideas on race and integration, coming into play. Sometimes it seems that attitudes do break down more along class lines than race lines. We can see from the attitudes expressed and stories relayed by these different students that "being black," means different things to different people in the post-civil rights generation. There is not an expression of unity as there was in the past except among liberal students at majority white institutions.

Yet, although there is divergence on whose responsible for getting blacks out of impoverished situations, students across all political beliefs agreed that education is the key to revitalizing the black community. The other commonality of most students that is very distressing is the lack of trust they hold for white people. Even those with weak racial identities, early integration and conservative attitudes express feelings of not being full comfortable in the "white world." Considering the slights that almost all students have endured itís easy to understand theyíre uneasiness. I think this exemplifies a major problem that halts dialogue between the white and black community, it seems each side is second-guessing what the other really thinks.

As we can see, simple integration will not solve everything. Indeed, many of those with early integration experiences have completely rejected the lifestyles and friendships from the white culture. There needs to be real communication and interaction between whites, blacks other minorities on race as well as class. Simpson, says the "tie that binds" is "being black," maybe it would be more correct to say that a lack of open communication and discussion among diverse groups is really the tie that binds. If thatís the case it does not only constrain individuals, but has proven to hold our society and culture hostage for centuries.

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Date: Mon, 01 May00 19:26:20 -0700
From: Ian Garrett <ijgarre@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: The Tie That Binds Book Review

By Ian Garrett

Want to understand why the Republican movement is such a farce to many blacks--and why that is not necessarily true? Is it okay to call someone "black" or African-American? Is there a difference? Do you believe that the actions of our (black) peers help or hinder us in the sense of our own identity? Is "The man" really the system, a white guy, or both? How has he put YOU down? Is that your fault? Feel like revolting yet? Being a black male on a majority white institution, this book has some interesting appeal to it. In most cases, this book answers most of these questions. Andrea Simpson's book makes clear the universal differences us people of color have on campuses nationwide, yet also informs us that there is something that unites us people of color as the same.

The "tie" if you will is what she speaks of. As Simpson states in her first sentence, this book is about what it means to be black. (p.1) Many have disputed if that is possible, but Andrea Simpson believes that she holds the answer to that very query. In interviewing 24 black students of varied political backgrounds, family structures, experiences, and location and racial composition of the school the student attends, it is possible to prove there is a black consciousness that tie people of color together, regardless of the aforementioned factors.

Simpson composed the research into groups of three political affiliations (conservative, moderate, and liberal) and those that attend majority black and white institutions. Within these political structures, she delves into their personal and political experiences to help understand the differences between the ideologies and also clarifies the similarities between the political affiliation and the life experiences of each student. Again, despite the fractures in political thought, there remains a "tie" that unites students of color.

Early in Simpson's analysis, one comes across an interesting theory. Simpson willingly admits that one must go through the process of "Nigrescence", or the process of becoming black. (p.9) this process is broken down into 5 easy steps Pre-encounter, Encounter, Immersion, Internalization, and Commitment. One may get the sense that Simpson is implying that some black conservatives have not yet completed, or even started this process. In that sense, she is correct. With respect to this book, and the students she interviewed, this concept was more understood with those that were politically moderate and liberal. Here, we get a idea of Simpson's political or social thought process.

Not surprisingly, it leans moderate. To her, it is possible to classify blackness under a checklist of different qualities. Unlike that of Dr. Richard Payne who believes that race is arbitrary and that we can learn to get along with each other, She seems to side with conservative Randall Kennedy, in that there seems to be a "proxy" that blackness can fall under, or in Simpson's case, can become a part 5 easy steps. however, as moderates do, she counters and explains that there is a "tie" that links our history, successes, and failures as each person's own.

Simpson also takes the liberty of giving each of the students fictitious names that go to fictitious schools, even though the students and their testimonies are real. This was probably done in protection of the identities of some of the students. In her interviews with students, Simpson begins with the black political conservatives.

They are broken down into two split groups; the Nationalists Conservatives, and the Traditional Conservatives. Two of the gentlemen are black conservatives on majority black colleges, which in some cases, adds to the confusion and apathy by some of their other political thinkers. Like the black conservatives that have preceded them, Alan Keyes, Walter Williams, and author Shelby Steele all preach about a conservative system that is built on the idea of self industry, self reliance, and the onus being placed on the individual to rectify problems in their lives.

(p.30-31) Within the beliefs of the students, (who were all men) each were raised in two parent families, possessed strong bonds with their fathers, went to integrated schools and lived in majority white neighborhoods. Neither could consider the idea that they had been a recipient of racism in their lives. Their logic was nearly unanimous in that the people in poor black communities should do more to help themselves to correct the conditions they live in. With respect to blackness or an identity that people of color arguably have, both balked at the idea.

However, both felt that there is a common bond that unites black together. The two point out that their idea of conservatism is more nationalistic than traditional. In the footsteps of W.E.B DuBois, and Nat Turner the two profess their need for other black to help the black community, as well as for those to help themselves. The traditional conservative differs greatly from the others. In Simpson's study, most of them all came from the South, a region that remains the least progressive in mores, ethics, and the adaptation of changing values.

As opposed to the former conservatives, they aligned themselves with a more independent style of political affiliation. Most of what they believed was the same of that of their counterparts. One huge difference was that a glaring majority of them were much more stringent upon the issues of premarital sex, homosexuality, and welfare reform. Again, because those living in the South tends to raise such a mode of thinking, it is not too abnormal for the answers they elicited.

Although their answers differed in various ways, most were against the increase of social programs, and cited that the problem lies with what the individual is or is not doing. unlike the ideology of their nationalist brethren, overall, they believed in a more assimilationist view of fitting into society. When it comes to the black identity issue, some had mixed answers.

Most agreed that it is not considered in their daily lives, but do believe that a commonality exists. Some also had more blatant experiences with racism, but some did not know what effects they experienced, or how to deal with them. The next few chapters explain the plight of the moderate. Needless to say, the moderate viewpoint is much more difficult to conclusively explain because many tend to waver so much depending on the issue. In Simpson's study, 2/3rds of the 6 students attend majority white institutions, and it is at this point that women are a part of the study.

Simpson was not excluding any black women, but it was probably unlikely that there are large numbers, or even smaller sects of black conservative women on college campuses. With the moderates, there is a stronger sense of black identity, although only 3 of the 6 of them believe such a connotation is beneficial. The issues of other black students weigh heavily on the motives of other people of color, thus having the tendency to create more stereotypes of how black people are. In this study, half of the moderate students came from single parent homes, and most of them are generally part of the middle class caste structure. 

Some answered more conservative on social mores and ethics, but that had more to do on where they were from (small town, large town, South, Northeast, etc.) as opposed to political philosophy. Moderates expressed that education is the way to help solve the problems of the black community, and the problem is shared between disadvantaged blacks, and white policy makers that tend to downplay the problem.

Many moderates answered that they had been discriminated against, but had a tendency to divert the issue or question themselves whether the incident was race based. (p.104) This sublimation of racism seems to directly lead to their majority idea that some believe that a black identity is not either evident or detrimental to them, which leads to a more moderate stance on the issue. One student clarifies the argument about black identity in which he replied, "Every African-American can identify with Jim Crow and racism. Experiences with discrimination bind all blacks." (p.89)

Regardless of differences, most agreed that there is a link that unites them all together as being "black", or African-American. the Liberals are the last group that Simpson interviews. They have the largest numbers of people (9) and have more women than either of the two groups. Most of them attend majority white institutions (except 2) and 6 of them come from single parent households. In addition, only one is what Simpson calls, "solidly middle class" (p.105)

Their viewpoints range from liberal-nationalist to more of a liberal-separationist. One idea that they all seem to have is a solidified sense of blackness, especially those on the white campuses. That solidarity is what unites them on a campus where some felt alienated, isolated, and frustrated--in general. All have had issues with racism and most see government as the biggest hurdle and helper to the solving the issues of the black community. When it comes to understanding how to help disadvantaged people of color, most agree that it is the dual responsibility of the people needing help, and those that should be beyond obligation to help.

In a minor sense, this is that "tie" that binds people of color together. The liberals also believed that whites' trouble to consciously visualize and truly empathize the problems and plights of those in the black community only lead to greater divisions and confusion--especially to students of color on majority white campuses. Simpson presents a decent account of how there seems to be evidence of a "tie" that really does exist in its binding of many students of color on campuses nationwide. That may explain why each group believed that it is their duty--as blacks--to help their disadvantaged peoples, regardless of what political philosophies suggest. That is an excellent illustration of what binds us together--as people.

The book seemed to give an opportunity for those that read it to gauge where they stand on this scale of students that Ms. Simpson interviewed. I really cannot conclusively tell where I stand, because I have a greater trouble trying to ascertain my level or stage of blackness that I have encountered. Simpson has varying ideas of what blackness is, and the proverbial tie that strands it together. I agree that there is a tie that binds my experiences with that of other black males on this campus, and vice versa.

However, I may be having trouble understanding where I stand on the "blackness scale". In Dave Roediger's book, "The Wages of Whiteness", he seems to make clear a 5 step stage to whiteness. Although I doubt the two theories are meant to be similar, I get a feeling they are in that the authors attempt to place caps on what qualifies as the "black/white" experience. It is clearly evident that on campuses that are composed of a majority of white students, the tie binds stronger, in a sense, because it has to. The same consciousness of blackness on HBCU's (hist. black colleges & univ's) is not as evident because everyone, in a sense, is the same. This is a good book.

A good two-and-a-half-hours, and you're done. The book has it's strong points, like bringing in people of color from all the main political ideologies, but it is difficult to conclusively understand if Simpson can explain the "blackness" she speaks of in the 5 stages applies. Since the creation of the black middle class, it is much more difficult to identify something as black or not, because the ideals may supersede such connotations. Add the concept of politics on top of the issue, and it is twice as difficult.Regardless of the political, social, and economic differences, it is evident there is a "tie" that binds us as people of color, it is our responsibility alone to ensure the tie does not break.

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Date: Tue, 02 May00 09:59:55 -0500
From: Justin Mayo <jdmayo@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Review of The Tie That Binds

Reviewed by: Justin Mayo

The question of identity is one that many people wrestle with. In this book by Andrea Simpson, the question of black identity is raised. What is it and what does it mean to those who are black? Simpson interviews several different students from different universities in an attempt to answer this and several other questions. These students range from conservative to moderate to liberal and are taken from both predominantly black and predominantly white universities. In each chapter, Simpson introduces us to these students, their familial history, their political views, and the causes they see as causing the current state of racial affairs in America.

Simpson does an excellent job at presenting all sides of these issues. In the final chapter, she analyzes some of the major issues that the students had discussed. She provides a good analysis of each that include familial and environmental influences, political socialization, group identity, political attitudes, and African-American leadership.

One of the major influences upon political attitudes is that of the family background and environment in which these students were raised. Several students were raised in predominantly white neighborhoods and their attitudes toward race are very different from those who grew up in predominantly black neighborhoods. This study does prove that, at least in this case, those students from single-parent households tended to be more liberal in their thoughts, politically and socially. 

Also, those students from historically black universities tended to be more conservative in their political and social attitudes. Simpsonís belief concerning black versus white "spaces," is that, "a majority-black environment may be more conducive to expressing ideological differences." (Page 148) She felt that black people would be more free to exercise their thoughts and beliefs because they would not seem as radical. This is given some credence with most of her subjects from predominantly white universities. In 2 of the 3 predominantly white universities, there did not seem to be any sort of cohesive multi-racial groupings at these two universities. Some students at these universities said that they felt isolated from other students.

While findings at these two schools may lend toward Simpsonís point of view, the effect of the black student population at the third predominantly white university was felt. Here, students held leadership positions even in predominantly white student groups. Also, groups observed on the campus were much more multi-racial. 

In my opinion, this makes racial relationships stronger for two reasons. First, it provides an opportunity for black students to lead others of a variety of races. By doing so, black students not as experienced dealing with different races, gain experience working with several different races. Second, it shows white students who are not as experienced in dealing with different races, to see other black students influencing the campus.

The real distinction in determining what is better for black students is a personal decision and can not be trivialized into assuming that all black students would respond better in a more uniformly black institution. The fact of the matter is that all students will respond differently to these two types of schools. Some black students will yearn for the racial solidarity that an historically black university may provide; others will respond better to a more racially diverse university where exposure to all types of people are more accessible.

This leads to one of the major flaws of what the term identity means to Simpson. Identity, as proven by the interviews with the students, means something different to everybody. While some students referred to black identity as nothing more than being black, others gave it a much greater meaning. For some, black identity is, "the obligation one feels to help those blacks who need help." (Page 45) 

Suddenly, instead of the term identity as being something merely that distinguishes one from another, identity becomes a moral or social attitude. It becomes a quest for solidarity. The problem with this belief is that it is not attainable. By that, I mean that the term identity is, according to Webster, the essential quality of [a person]. The fact of the matter is that everyone is different.

Another aspect of the black community that Simpson analyzes is that of media. Again, there were several mixed emotions regarding this topic. The same sort of question was risen in Sut Jhally and Justin Lewisí book Enlightened Racism which dealt with the success of The Cosby Show. Some people were glad to see a successful black family while others felt that it falsely showed that any black person can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make it in a predominantly white society. The same findings were shown here. Some people, for example, seemed upset when they would see films about black individuals who have risen up and out of where they had begun, while others were bored by seeing the realities of the inner-cities. On a personal level, I understand both sides of this issue.

Being bisexual, I am always angered when I see a gay character that is extremely effeminate because I feel that this falsely shows the heterosexual world what it means to be gay. However, I also feel that representation is important. As Harvey Fierstein says, "representation at any cost." (The Celluloid Closet) So what should be done about the media? I donít think that there is anything that can, nor necessarily should, be done. It is important to see several different walks of life, those more stereotypical such as Living Single and those more atypical such as The Cosby Show. 

I will agree with many of the students interviewed who said that they would like to see more movies by black directors, "with substance." (Page 157) Movies geared toward black audiences need to be made with this lacking substance. As time moves on, however, I believe that we will begin to see more of these movies, and in fact, already have examples of this with films such as Beloved and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

As time moves on, I feel that we will begin to see more of these movies. The differences in beliefs on just these two topics poses shows something interesting about the term, "black identity." Posing the question "what does black identity mean?" is just as inane as asking what the female identity is, or the homosexual identity, or the identity of the professional athlete. Every person within any group holds different attitudes and beliefs, so using this as an essential aspect of the black identity is pointless. A personís attitude is not essential in determining whether or not somebody is black.

So the question becomes, what does the term identity mean? What does it mean to be black, or a woman, or gay, or a professional athlete? It means exactly that. An identity is nothing more than a label put onto people in order to group them quickly and easily. I do not mean to imply that it does not relate to what Simpson writes or that she improperly uses the term, it does and she does not. This is a book about what it means to be black. All of the people interviewed are black and it is because of this fact that they are bound. 

They all have different political, social, and moral beliefs, but they are all tied together because of their skin color. Within their race, they can be bound even tighter based on these attitudes they hold common. For example, the conservatives are bound together as one collective group. These conservatives can also be bound to white conservatives based upon their political viewpoints. People are "bound" to several different groups at the same time.

Overall, I felt that this was an extremely well-written and well-supported book. I feel that she draws in-depth conclusions and that she does so without being too complex and convoluted. It was an easy read. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in a black perspective on racial issues. However, I would caution the reader that this is from a pretty small sample of people, and therefore, should not take what a few people say and jump to the conclusion that it is fact.

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Date: Sat, 06 May00 10:17:51 -0500
From: Jamie Cecil <>

Reviewed By: Jamie Cecil

THE TIE THAT BINDS discusses the issues of identity and political attitudes in the black post-civil rights generation in a discovery of what it means to be black. The author, Andrea Simpson, interviews twenty-four individuals with differing backgrounds and political attitudes whose only common bond or "tie" is being black. Through a variety of questions, dealing with familial and environmental influences, political socialization, strength of group identity, attitudes on issues related to race, attitudes and opinions of African-American leadership, the audience is informed of the views these individuals hold and why they have these beliefs. Even though Simpson has divided the book into the views of the conservatives, moderates and liberal, the interviews within each group have different ideas on issues.

Until I read this book I never really analyzed my political attitudes. In reading the different responses given by each interviewee I was forced to look at my views on issues and how I agreed or disagreed with the persons views. I realized in many cases that my experiences in life are different from those of the black students. I, for example, have never been able to walk into a room on campus and feel a bond with another white person just because we are the same color, while many students interviewed feel that black individuals have a tie that makes them able to do this.

Simpson addressed this experience by asking the individuals if there is such a thing as black identity. It seems, from the answers given, that most people agreed that there is a black identity. After coming to this conclusion, the more significant issue is how black identity is perceived differently by individuals.Two males from upper-middle-class, two-parent homes gave us a conservative opinion. Charles and Clifford "believe that such beliefs [of black identity] ostracize blacks who do not fit the mold- and these blacks may also have something to offer the larger community" (p. 38). 

One moderate female, Marilyn, does not believe there is such a thing as black identity. She feels she has little in common with the poor young black women she comes into contact with even though they are members of the same race (p. 86). A male moderate named Michael, unlike Marilyn, does believe in black identity. He states that "experiences with discrimination bind all blacks" (p. 89). The liberals interviewed have a stronger connection with black identity. 

We can see this in Lanaís statements who believes having black identity makes you feel connected to Africa and you are "conscious of the subjugation of your people and the richness of your ancestry" (p.114). Another liberal male named Lawrence says blacks are connected through "a collective struggle and a collective experience" and the strongest link is "the shared history of slavery and oppression" (p.107). We can see from the different responses given by these six individuals that some feel very strongly about their black identity while others feel it may not be a good thing or donít even believe it exists.

Due the fact that this book is about being black, it is understandable that the white perspective would not be discussed. At some points the students generalize or stereotype the entire white race for something that was done by a small group. One example of this can be seen in the statements given by Carol. Carol attended a majority-white private school and was raised in a two-parent home in an upscale suburb of a midsized city in the South. In my opinion Carol makes a very contradictory statement. Carol states "Iím like my father-he hates white people and heís always in their faces" (p. 73). She goes on to say that she doesnít want to be stereotyped by whites. I guess what struck me about these statements is that she "hates" whites for doing something that she is doing to us.

She assumes that all whites stereotype blacks. It is hypocritical to blame a group of people for stereotyping and then turn around and stereotype an entire group on the beliefs of a small amount of individuals within that group. Another statement that I question is given by Lawrence. He states that it is difficult for him to trust whites. 

I respect this because his personal experiences have led him to this view but I have a problem with one of the examples he uses in his argument. He mentions that one of the examples why he has distrust for whites is because of the Tuskegee Experiments. Although I am completely aware of the large role whites played in these experiments, he fails to mention the black doctor and nurse who tricked the black men into participating in the experiments. If the nurse and doctor had not talked the men into continuing with the experiments, the government (white men) would not have had the black men to conduct the experiments on.

I must say that this book enlightened me by taking a closer look into the issues of "being black" and the "tie" that binds the black population. Many of the views discussed on issues, such as abortion , homosexuality, premarital sex, I was able to think about my opinions on the matter. It was difficult for me agree or disagree with the views on black identity because it is something that I donít experience as a white individual.

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