Ellis Cose

Stories by Ellis Cose

  • Growing Up in a Turbulent Time

    HENRY LOUIS GATES Jr. is one of the most distinguished literary scholars around; yet the voice most often heard in Colored People (216 pages. Knopf $22) is not that of Gates the Harvard professor, but of Gates the vulnerable, awkward, infinitely curious young man. This Gates is less with such arcana as the relation to diegesis than with how to get into Linda Hoffman's pants. ...
  • Everybody's Talking At Me

    WRITERS NECESSARILY BELIEVE THAT words are magical, capable of illuminating even the most cobwebbed of minds. But to write about race for an interracial audience is to sorely test one's faith in that notion. I wrote The Rage of a Privileged Class (192 pages. HarperCollins. $20) to provoke discussion about an issue the pain and anger of black professionals that had not been widely explored. The book has accomplished that; but it has also served to demonstrate just how limited and difficult such dialogue can be. ...
  • Hustler, Icon, Hatemonger, Peace Seeker

    LIKE A FIREWORK THAT FIZZLES AS IT arcs across the sky, Malcolm X, in dying young, denied his public a fitting finale. His admirers have filled the void with myth--clouding not only the picture of what he might have become but of who he really was. ...
  • The Tale Of The Great Crusader

    WITH A MIND AS SHARP AS A STILETTO and a will as unyielding as a tank, Bois was clearly meant for stardom. Still, for a black man of his era (with "a strain of French" and "a bit of Dutch," as he loved to point out), his accomplishments were miraculous. ...
  • Rage Of The Privileged

    WAS STUDYING RAGE, I TOLD MY HOST, AN eminently successful corporate lawyer. Specifically, I was looking into the anger of middle-class blacks--into why people who seemingly had so much to celebrate were filled with resentment and rage. "Well, I can tell you why I'm angry," he began, launching into a long tale about his compensation package. Despite the millions he had brought into the firm the year before, his partners were balking at giving him his due. "They want you to do well, but not that well," he grumbled. The more he talked, the more agitated he became. What I had originally thought would be a five-minute conversation stretched on for nearly an hour as this normally restrained and unfailingly gracious man vented long-buried feelings. ...
  • A City Room Of Many Colors

    IF SAMENESS IS THE MOTHER OF disgust--as the poet Petrarch declared--diversity is not necessarily the father of contentment. For years (officially since 1978) America's daily newspapers have been in pursuit of an elusive ethnic heterogeneity. In that time, they have raised the percentage of ethnic minorities from under 4 percent to just over 10, but the effort has pleased virtually no one. Minority journalists wonder whether, for all the hoopla, the diversity crusade is largely a farce. Critics of the "diversity" campaign argue that it is undermining hiring standards and inspiring cheerleading for (and soft coverage of) favored groups. ...
  • Protecting The Children

    Maybe someday more americans of all races will decide to get and stay married. For the time being, however, we must face a simple fact: desirable as "traditional" families may be, fewer and fewer Americans are belonging to them. Many women--especially many black women--will be raising their children alone. The question then becomes, "How can we make sure those large numbers of kids who will be raised without fathers have a decent shot at life?" ...
  • Guinier: The Rewards Of Martyrdom

    Political misfortune has brought Lani Guinier fame. In time it may bring her fortune. For the moment, she would be content if it could help her focus America's attention on what she calls the "unfinished agenda of civil rights." She had hoped the hearings to confirm her as an assistant attorney general would do that. Those hearings were never held. Yet the process that destroyed her candidacy has given her a second chance--or at least provided an audience to whom she can make her case. ...
  • Brutality As A Teen Fashion Statement

    Anyone old enough to have grown up lip-syncing the lines to "My Girl" is unlikely to see the beauty or wit in lyrics like "Bitches ain't s--- but hoes and tricks." Yet that phrase (or variations on it) from Dr. Dre's double-platinum album "The Chronic" is among the more popular tidbits of wisdom served up on T shirts this summer. Teen fashion, of course, rarely follows grown-up rules. Yet even adults who accept teenage rebellion are agape at a fad that has young men flaunting T shirts that Pluck messages directly from the gutter. Not all the shirts are vulgar. One of the hotter items features a solemn Mike Tyson accompanied by the warning I'LL BE BACK. Nor do they all ridicule women. Some invite you to THROW YA GUNZ IN THE AIR or advise you to BACDAF--UP. Another wryly reassures, NO WHITE LADY, I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE YOUR PURSE. But those that denigrate women-typically referred to as "bitches"--have provoked the fiercest reaction. ...
  • Black And Blue At The Post

    Satan must have smacked his lips when Jill Nelson joined The Washington Post. For if Nelson had not exactly sold her soul, she all but surrendered her identity. A rebellious free spirit, she signed on to become a Post staff writer, trading in the penurious but autonomous freelance life for what she saw as the equivalent of a yoke and a plow. Her reasons were of the most Faustian sort: security, status, power and money. But the Devil did not quite get his due. Nelson broke free and emerged shaken but unbowed, spitting great gobs of anger and resentment smack in the face of her former employer. ...
  • 'The Lesser Of Two Evils'

    Richard Riordan cast himself as a Ross Perot-style reformer, but by Election Day he had come to symbolize Los Angeles's last white hope. Racial tension alone doesn't explain the millionaire businessman's victory over city councilman Michael Woo last Tuesday. Frustration with crime, economic decline and politics-as usual played a role; but ethnic Balkanization was the key. That polarization may eventually be the instrument of Riordan's undoing. At the very least, it could make him a transitional mayor: a link between the Tom Bradley era and one where Latinos prevail. ...
  • The Voting Rights Act: A Troubled Past

    Lani Guinier's biggest mistake may have been specializing in the Voting Rights Act. Conceived in suspicion and sustained by mistrust, the act evokes both a shameful past and a problematic present. And like other symbols of shame, it is a magnet for hostility. ...
  • A Prophet With Attitude

    As a young philosopher writing his firs book, Cornel West extolled the virtue of intellectual activity "on the margin . . . outside the world of aimless chitchat and gossip. "Now, with publication of "Race Matters" (105 pages. Beacon Press. $15), an essay collection exploring racial issues, the chatter of celebrity has invaded West's sanctum of marginality. He seems on the verge of major stardom in that twilight zone where intellectual debate and TV talk meet. And West, Princeton University's director of Afro-American studies and a Harvard graduate, Christian, socialist and world-class clotheshorse, insists-as he stands on the threshold of his 40th birthday-that it is not he but the world that has changed. ...