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

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White Guilt and Radical Islam

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 30, 2006

White guilt obscures the crucial reality in the Middle East: History has left the Islamic world behind. Shelby Steele on the massive sense of inferiority that so enrages Islamic militants.

Analysis and Commentary

Life and Death

by Shelby Steelevia Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The simple back-and-forth of war can create the illusion that both sides have a legitimate point to make even when this is not so, and it is clear that Hezbollah's cause has greatly benefited from war's "equalizing" effect…

White Guilt and the American Way of War

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why does America insist on fighting with kid gloves? By Shelby Steele.

Analysis and Commentary

White Guilt and War

by Shelby Steelevia American Enterprise Institute
Thursday, June 1, 2006

One of the most remarkable events of the late twentieth century was the collapse of white supremacy--not just in America, but around the world…

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Down on Hilary's Plantation

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Must blacks have their slave past rubbed in their face simply for Hilary Clinton to make a little hay aganst modern-day Republicans?" By Shelby Steele.


by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Sunday, October 30, 2005

Racism cannot explain the images of deep black poverty that emerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. If Katrina was a wake-up call for government, it was also a wake-up call for black America. By Shelby Steele.

California and the Content of Our Character

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, July 30, 2002

An initiative on the California ballot this November dares to take race out of politics. Hoover fellow Shelby Steele explains a measure that could prove historic.

White Guilt = Black Power

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

What the controversy over the Afro-American Studies Department at Harvard says about the state of race relations in America. By Hoover fellow Shelby Steele.

War of the Worlds

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Hoover fellow Shelby Steele reflects on September 11, the ultimate collision between the First and Third Worlds.

The Double Bind of Race and Guilt

by Shelby Steelevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 2001

It was not joblessness that bred the black underclass—it was 35 years of counterproductive government programs. By Hoover fellow Shelby Steele.