The Skimmer

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Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

By Eugene Robinson

Doubleday; 224 pages

"I have seen the future, and it is beige," declares the Pulitzer Prize--winning Washington Post columnist, describing a coming wave of interracial marriages in the U.S. The offspring will join the ranks of Emergent blacks, one of the four groups Robinson categorizes in this deftly written account of the fragmentation of America's black population. The Emergents--who are biracial or children of African or Caribbean immigrants--often have to vie with the country's Abandoned blacks. The abandoned are still languishing beneath what W.E.B. DuBois called "the color line," poor and in desperate need of support from the Transcendents, who have reached the upper echelons of American society. But in order to help the Abandoned, blacks must first accept that "there is no longer one black America" and be willing to agree with Robinson that members of the Mainstream, a middle-class majority, having made visible strides in the past 40 years, ought to eschew some of their earlier entitlements in favor of those still truly left behind.