Also from The Root, friend of Agate Felicia Pride, in reviewing two new "tough love" message books, makes what I think is the most important point there is to make about the challenges facing African Americans--it's not about "either-or," but rather "both-and": "Embracing responsibility is necessary for us to thrive. I don't believe in excuses either and some explanations are lame. High expectations are crucial. So is support. And empathy."

I typically feel that most discussions of what's-wrong-with-Black America err by tipping this both-and balance too far to one side--it's either all about the need for more personal responsibility, or all about solving the systemic issues. When in fact, it's always been about both. You can pick a spot somewhere on the spectrum to make your own stand, but don't deny that both ends matter. Otherwise, there's no real conversation, no synthesis, no solutions--just two opposing sides completely invested in denying any validity to the other.