The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy

Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres consider how blacks’ own perceptions of their plight might lead to a new political movement. In The Miner’s Canary, Guinier and Torres argue that rather than internalize their social dysfunction as being their ‘own fault,’ many blacks have developed a critical perspective on ‘the system.’ Refusing to accept the mythology of the American Dream—‘that those who succeed or fail invariably do so according to their individual merit’—blacks ‘appreciate the necessity and efficacy of collective political struggle’… Guinier and Torres announce a bold agenda: ‘to use the experiences of people of color as the basis for fundamental social change that will benefit not only blacks and Hispanics but other disadvantaged social groups.’—James Forman Jr., The Washington Post


Have not read this book (yet), but attended a public lecture by Dr. Isaac Saney on African Nova Scotians (so informative!) and heard him say that the disadvantaged are like canaries in a mine. Although their troubles may seem to apply only to them, they signal more systemic problems occurring in the general population. An interesting notion, but when I “Googled” to find a reference for the idea (it sounded familiar), I came across Guinier and Torres’ book The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy.

It was published by Harvard University Press and has been given great reviews on their site. I will add it to my (ever-growing) list of books read.

T. M. G.

Citation for James Forman Jr.’s Book Review: