Keeping our eyes on the prize: Beyond Brown v. Board of Education
Gina Philoge`ne (Ed.), Racial Identity in Context: The Legacy of Kenneth B. Clark, American
Psychological Association, Washington, DC, ISBN: 1-59147-122-2 (cloth). 273 pp. $59.95
This volume edited by social psychologist Gina Philoge`ne honors and evaluates the work and legacy
of Kenneth B. Clark. In addition, a number of the contributors present their own work on race and its
impact on culture and society. The work of Kenneth and his wife and longtime collaborator Mamie Clark
is probably best known for the contribution they made over fifty years ago to the landmark Supreme
Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which officially ended public school segregation.
According to the editor, in addition to honoring the work of Kenneth Clark, the purpose of the book bis
to bring together a number of prominent psychologists who... will help us articulate a dialogue on the
sensitive and polemic issue of raceQ (p. 11). In the volume introduction (Chapter 1), Philogene addresses
the issue of race in American as well as outlining the organization for the book. The volume is organized
into 4 main sections and a conclusion, with the main sections each introduced by a different scholar:
bThe Impact of Kenneth B. Clark: Then and Now,Q (introduced by Gina Philoge`ne), bRacial Identity,Q
(with an introduction by Linwood Lewis), bRacism and Its Cultural Manifestations,Q (introduced by
Ferdinand Jones), and bOur Common Destiny,Q (with an introduction by Barbara Schecter).
1. The impact of Kenneth B. Clark: Then and now
The two chapters making up the first section of the book focus on the life and work of Kenneth Clark.
The opening chapter by Cherry provides a concise history of the early career of Clark as a social
psychologist and activist. Cherry describes the tension between social psychology as an objective and
neutral science and Clark’s desire to examine bsocial groups in real communitiesQ (p. 23). In addition, the
author notes that the social psychological research of the Clarks was unique for its time in that it focused
on the potential target’s perspective. Interestingly, this is a perspective that social psychology has begun
to seriously embrace only recently (see Swim & Stangor, 1988).
The other chapter in this section, by Pettigrew, reviews the current status of African Americans
compared to their White counterparts in terms of attitudes, race relations, politics, education,
employment, criminal justice and a number of other indicators. Based on these comparisons the author
makes the telling point that, bIf the social condition is a negative one... African Americans usually have
twice or more of the condition than White Americans. By contrast, if the condition is a positive one...
African Americans usually have about half as much as White Americans.Q (p. 42). Pettigrew also
Applied Developmental Psychology 26 (2005) 734 –739