Academic journal article Ethnic Studies Review

Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities, and the Call for a Deep Democracy

Academic journal article Ethnic Studies Review

Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities, and the Call for a Deep Democracy

Article excerpt

Thompson III, J. Phillip, Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities, and the Call for a Deep Democracy. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). Xii, 338 pp., $29.95 hardcover.

In Double Trouble, Thompson wrestles with the conflict of the viability of Black elected officials successfully leading major U.S. cities and remaining accountable to the "Black poor." Thompson asserts the strategy of deep pluralism... "how marginal groups are to achieve power in competitive struggles with other groups while still striving for a politics of common good."1 The work provides a wealth of knowledge concerning inner city politics since the civil rights movement and deftly outlines the problems, such as white flight, federal dispersion of funds, and the depoliticizing of grassroots organizing, that have developed for Black mayors and working class communities. Double Trouble, however, raises essential questions which are never adequately addressed by the author.

The first question is that of focus, Thompson never provides an in depth analysis of the Black poor upon which he can successfully found his deep pluralism. His analysis is limited to an assumed economic behavior derived from a significant amount of traditional economic and political behavioral studies. The problem with this methodology is that such studies unnecessarily narrow the Black poor by inadequately dealing with the complexity of the population especially in relation to the historic movements of a system often perceived as dangerous, racist and immoral. Thompson's analysis would benefit immensely from dealing with major questions of Black working class radicalism as outlined in works such as Robin Kelley's Race Rebels and Freedom Dreams.

The second problem of note is Thompson's lack of commentary concerning the class consciousness of Black mayors. If class is an essential variable in urban politics, as Thompson asserts, then Double Trouble should include an analysis of Black mayors as a class. …

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