Black Politics Today: The Era of Socioeconomic Transition

Black Politics Today: The Era of Socioeconomic Transition

Black Politics Today: The Era of Socioeconomic Transition

Black Politics Today: The Era of Socioeconomic Transition

Synopsis

The late 1980s ushered in a new era of black politics, the socioeconomic transition era. Coming on the heels of the protest era and politics era, the current stage is characterized by the emergence of a new black middle class that came of age after the Civil Rights struggle. Although class still isn't a strong factor in the external politics of the black community, it is increasingly a wedge issue in the community's internal politics. Black politics today is increasingly less about the interest of the larger group and more about the interest of smaller subgroups within the community.

Theodore J. Davis Jr. argues that the greatest threat to the social and political cohesiveness of the so-called black community may be the rise of a socially and economically privileged group among the ranks of black America. This rift has affected blacks' ability to organize effectively and influence politics. Davis traces the changes in economic status, public opinion, political power and participation, and leadership over three generations of black politics. The result is an insightful analysis of black politics today.

Excerpt

With the election of the first U. S. president of African heritage in 2008, one could make several claims about black politics today. For one, it could be argued that black politics has matured and become an integral part of American politics. No longer would the statement “not in my life time” be heard when asking about the prospects of a president of African heritage. It could also be argued that the election of the first president of African heritage was a clear indication that black politics was no longer in its infancy or to be considered fringe politics. That black candidates were now acceptable to significant segments of population beyond the black community and that America had become a post-racial society. Likewise, it could be argued that black politics had moved (or was moving) into a new phase, a new era. That President Obama offered black politics a “paradigmatic atmosphere of ‘hope,’ ‘change,’ and ‘Yes We Can,’ which captured, renewed, and revitalized the faith of an intergenerational remix of people both across the nation and around the world.” Finally, it could be said that the election of the first president of African heritage represents “the rebirth of black politics” and “resurrection of black consciousness.”

At the other end of the spectrum, it could be argued that the election of Barack Obama was the beginning of the end of black politics. That since the 1970s, there has been sufficient evidence of a black political culture that’s decaying, and that effective, results-oriented politics was being replaced with rhetoric and symbolism. That Barack Obama’s election represented a “generational transition that was reordering black politics” and embracing “the idea that black politics might now be disappearing into American politics in the same way the Irish and Italian machines long ago joined the political mainstream.” Regardless of which position one takes, several things are characteristically different about black politics today when compared with black politics in the past.

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