Shelby Steele

Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow

Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He specializes in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action. He was appointed a Hoover fellow in 1994.

Steele has written widely on race in American society and the consequences of contemporary social programs on race relations.

In 2006, Steele received the Bradley Prize for his contributions to the study of race in America. In 2004, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal. In 1991, his work on the documentary Seven Days in Bensonhurst was recognized with an Emmy Award and two awards for television documentary writing—the Writer's Guild Award and the San Francisco Film Festival Award.

Steele received the National Book Critic's Circle Award in 1990 in the general nonfiction category for his book The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America. Other books by Steele include A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win (Free Press, 2007), White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (HarperCollins 2006) and A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America.

Steele has written extensively for major publications including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a contributing editor at Harper's magazine. He has also spoken before hundreds of groups and appeared on national current affairs news programs including Nightline and 60 Minutes.

Steele is a member of the National Association of Scholars, the national board of the American Academy for Liberal Education, the University Accreditation Association, and the national board at the Center for the New American Community at the Manhattan Institute.

Steele holds a PhD in English from the University of Utah, an MA in sociology from Southern Illinois University, and a BA in political science from Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Recent Commentary


Black Protest Has Lost Its Power

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Friday, January 12, 2018

Have whites finally found the courage to judge African-Americans fairly by universal standards?


Why The Left Can’t Let Go Of Racism

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Sunday, August 27, 2017

Liberals sell innocence from America’s past. If bigotry is pronounced dead, the racket is over.

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End of the Line for the Shame Train

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Friday, July 7, 2017

White self-congratulation, disguised as penance, has informed American liberalism for decades. Now liberalism is at last exhausted—and that’s a very good thing. 

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The Soft Bigotry of Political Correctness

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

President Trump has never bowed to the culture of victimization. His lack of deference could be liberating.


The Exhaustion Of American Liberalism

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Sunday, March 5, 2017

White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority.


The Promise Of President Trump: Shelby Steele

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Thursday, January 19, 2017

‘Mr. Trump’s special charisma is that he seems to function entirely outside the framework of today’s cultural liberalism.’

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Trump, Clinton And The Culture Of Deference

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Monday, November 7, 2016

Political correctness functions like a despotic regime. We resent it but we tolerate it.


Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country

by Shelby Steelevia Basic Books
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The United States today is hopelessly polarized; the political Right and Left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps, preventing any sort of progress. Amid the bickering and inertia, the promise of the 1960s—when we came together as a nation to fight for equality and universal justice—remains unfulfilled.

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Shelby Steele on Shame

by Shelby Steelevia Fellow Talks
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shelby Steele discusses his latest book Shame How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country.

Who Speaks for Black Americans?

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 18, 2013

When jurors rejected the racial narrative surrounding the Zimmerman trial, they also rejected certain present-day civil rights leaders.