That Ol' Black Magic and
the Great White Hope
Basketball and Race in the Reagan Era
The year 1980 will forever live as a year of significant change in American culture. Most noteworthy that year was, of course, the election of former B actor Ronald Reagan to the office of the president. Reagan would establish himself and his ideas as both iconic and definitive of the era, often referred to as the Reagan '80s or, better yet, the Reagan era. The election of Reagan signaled the beginning of a new America, a much more conservative and reactionary one, one that now seemed fully recovered from America's brief flirtation with liberalism in the 1960s and '70s.
Reagan was anything but left. While his policies have been celebrated as helping to end the Cold War, for many African Americans and other minorities, Reaganism was far from being something to celebrate. For many disenfranchised people it was about weeping and a gnashing of teeth. His embrace of an ultraconservative social agenda in turn made it acceptable, even popular, to be openly hostile toward race issues, and this cast a dark cloud, no pun intended, over the prospects for any real Black advancement into the vortex of American society.