Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden, Free Essay with a Book Review

Published: 2022-03-31
Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden, Free Essay with a Book Review
Type of paper:  Book review
Categories:  Literature Sport
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1387 words
12 min read

The Author motives' are to enhance the reader to learn about the history of the black sport from a new angle. These perspectives do not involve looking extensively at how inspirational the history has been, but it pays more attention to how enormous the struggle was and the significance of the victories and the fights. The book seeks to present an extensive discussion on the stories of the prosperous black athletes as well as the founders of the black sport. Notably, Rhoden does provide not only an overview of good events only but also the unfortunate events and their impacts. In that, he narrates the weaknesses and the strengths, the lows and the high, the advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, Rhode has described the unknown history of many sportspersons who struggled, tussled and emerged winners as a result of their respective sporting events regardless of the adverse conditions they experienced.

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Book Summary and Critique

William C. Rhoden has documented the African American historical sufferings in his book, Forty Million Dollar Slaves. He provides an account of the rise and fall as well as the redemption of the African American athletes. He further analyzes the black athletes fight for power during the twenty-first century. He sheds more light on the history of social oppression and cultural, he documents the past injustices and local activities of educating African-American athletes in matters connected to the heritage and encourages them to take part in their communal events in the future (Rhoden, 2006). The author talks about the significance of blacks acquiring more power in the industry of sports. The power constitutes business, and organizational strength hence has the most extensive control in the industry such as ownership and management positions which are owned by few blacks.

Therefore, it is very evident that Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden is an intriguing expedition that seeks to provide an exploration of the Black American sportspeople. Evidently, even the black psychologists can apply this book as a schooling device to showcase the influence of the mind provided one controls and follows his or her destiny irrespective of the traps linked with excessive financial gain (Rhoden, 2006). Nevertheless, this Rhoden's book offers a very informative history of the black athlete living in America. It discussed the unfortunate paths and also the state of mind that seems to have overtaken the realities of some of the African American sportspeople of today. It is very apparent that this book provides an ideal and prophetic dissertation on the path of blacks in sports activities.

He holds that, to make the evolution to be entirely free, then one needs to accept that racism is more dangerous and determined than ever before. Subsequently, all athletes should consider reading this book so that it can serve as an example of what not to become so that they may not get lost. Apparently, Rhode believes that the modern day African American athletes are not willing to support the economic and social justice for all black community since the times of the sixties. Therefore, there is a vacuum of leadership that has significantly contributed to the destruction of the black athletes' tribe.

The African American Professional Athlete Life before Segregation and after Integration.

Before segregation, the most paid African-American professional athletes painted a picture of control and power. However, Rhode represented two perspectives that even before exclusion a white-dominated racist system was still controlling the professional sports. For instance, during the early days of the US athletic competition, the highest number of sports commissioners and team owners were white. On the other hand, Rhode provides relevant information on the effects of integration. He notes that integration might have caused a few problems for whites, while on the other side, it may have done more harm than good for the African Americans. This implies that the integration virtually destroyed the black industry and killed almost all sports that were managed or controlled by the people of color. After integration, the black institutions were abolished while the white prospered at the expense of the black's leagues.

The Rise, Fall, And Redemption Periods

This book focuses on narrating the events of the rise and fall of the black athlete as well as determining the path to redemption. Rhoden seeks to support the idea of sports as a clear path to the aspects of attaining social equity for the black society through history lessons that tend to lighten the still-darkened trail to real power for the African American athlete. He claims that the African American athletes lack the understanding of the purpose of the sports and as a consequence, they appear to rise to the highest ranks of the multibillion-dollar sports industry while lacking important opportunities for leadership and roles in the process of decision making (Rhoden, 2006). For instance, the author examines specific athletes such as Jack Johnson as the ideal examples which reflects the historical pride which exists in the Black community. This instance shows Johnson defeating Jim Jefferies I 1910 hence this act played an essential role in eliminated the symbolically undermined perceptions about the black inferiority.

Comparison of Today's Black Athletes to Slaves.

Rhoden's book provides a daring and provocative view of the sports industry and its adverse effects on black athletes. He further provides a comparison of today's black sportspeople to slavery. He laments that, the same way that white owners were in control of plantation system back in the 19th Century the same way they are dominating the world of sports regarding management and ownership. In other words, he compares the sports with the plantation firms, asserting that white owners are still in control of their black slaves and feeding on the profits made from African American's sweat. To back up his stand, he cites the history of the black athlete such as the plantation-born boxers and other prominent athletes. The renowned Michael Jordan abandoned his responsibility as a black advocate so that he avoids the alienating spectators (Rhoden, 2006). Therefore, his comparison shows the evolution of the black athlete in the early 60's to the black sportsperson of today as well as the complications experienced by the present black proficient athletes and the black community at large.

Ways Prominent African-American Athletes Have Helped and Hurt African Americans

Rhoden discusses the failure of African-American athletes to acquire real power in an industry that benefits from their creativity and images. He laments that R.C Owens' style during the 1950s together with Muhammad Ali's impetuous and confidence presence that changed the fan's experiences. He further claims that the black athletes helped the black community in the 21st Century sports industry (Rhoden, 2006). The success was as a result of the commercial appeal whereby leagues, for example, the National Basketball Association became controlled by a black labor force after the wide-spread acceptance of black culture and style became inescapable. Therefore, Rhoden implies that the modern African-American athlete took advantage of this exposure by providing a commercially viable image of tension and urbanity. Notably, Rhoden claims that while black athletes are among the most prominent and highest paid individuals working today, this perception does not imply that they are in control of their destinies.

To sum up, this book provides detailed and relevant information about the African American athlete. It has the power of extending our knowledge about black sports history and advancing our views on the issue of sports activities. Evidently, the black professional athletes remain associated with the black community in significant ways. Rhoden pays more attention to the harsh revenge that they are at high risk of facing at the hands of the whites. Nonetheless, Rhoden provides more emphasis on the significance of black athletes and businesspersons attaining business and organizational influence in professional sports as well as in the college. He further documents that the wealthy blacks no longer have the desire to work for equality based on the social and economic issues for their race and as a consequence, this lack of political commitment has transformed black athletes into a "lost tribe." Nevertheless, Rhode's book provides an optimistic message due to the understanding that the thousands of black athletes are now privileged to make significant statements concerning the manner in which the industry is operated.


Rhoden, W. C. (2006). $40 million slaves: the rise, fall, and redemption of the Black athlete. New York: Crown.

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