We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity. By Tommie Shelby. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. 336p. $27.95.
The intellectual and strategic moorings of contemporary black political solidarity are increasingly unstable. As the political memory of the race-specific Civil Rights movement fades further into history, intraracial differences that have always existed, such as gender, religion, sexuality, multiracial identification, immigration, region, cultural affiliation, political ideology, and generation, are being highlighted by race scholars from a variety of fields as reasons for rethinking race-based political cohesion. Tommie Shelby acknowledges all of these internal pressures, but sees the widening gap between poor and more affluent blacks as the intraracial fissure that most threatens political cohesion among today's African Americans. From this sociological premise, Shelby sets out to articulate a “progressive,” philosophically sound basis for black political organization that appeals both to the class interests of poor and working-class blacks and to those of middle- and upper-class blacks. By “progressive,” Shelby means a recognition that basic social injustices linger, and can and should be corrected through state intervention and/or collective political action. Remedies for current racial inequalities cannot be found in a “conservative” return to a former era of ostensibly better social organization.
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