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.
"The volume is well written and has a thoroughly documented set of notes, and many enlightening tables and figures. It should appeal to readers interested in civil rights and class politics. Summing up: Recommended. All readership levels." - Choice, June 2012
"In Black Politics Today, Theodore J. Davis provides a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of African American politics and its current state in ‘post-racial’ America. Despite the many elections of black politicians as well as the election of the first African American president, racism, socioeconomic divisions among haves and have-nots, and a leadership void impede economic and political progress in black communities. Black Politics Today is a fine addition to the literature on racial politics and American politics generally."
—Sharon D. Wright Austin, University of Florida
"Ted Davis' Black Politics Today is a comprehensive analysis of black politics in America. Particularly insightful is Davis' examination of the evolution of black politics beginning with the ‘Protest Era’ of the 1940s and continuing up through the ‘New Era of Black Politics,’ which includes the election of the first African American president, Barack Obama. Davis is especially skillful in showing how race has played a fundamental role in shaping black politics and how the changes in the social and economic structures of the black community have contributed to the political maturation of black politics in America. His book makes a significant scholarly contribution."
—Dewey M. Clayton, University of Louisville
"Davis brings a deep understanding of the complexities of African American political experiences in this important new book on the dynamics of black politics in the age of Obama. The book challenges us to think carefully about the future of American politics in the face of growing economic inequality and diversity."
—Jane Junn, University of Southern California
1: Black Politics Today: The Evolution 2: A Community in Transition and Dividing by Class 3: The Foundations for a Political Divide 4: Attitudes and Perceptions in Black and White: What They Suggests About Race and Politics 5: Blacks’ Public Opinion Today: A Question of Consensus 6: Black Politics and the Continuing Struggle for Political Influence in the Socioeconomic Transition Era 7: Black Political Leadership Today 8: Beyond Socioeconomic Status: Other Factors Influencing Black Politics Today
Group identities have been an important part of political life in America since the founding of the republic. For most of this long history, the central challenge for activists, politicians, and scholars concerned with the quality of U.S. democracy was the struggle to bring the treatment of ethnic and racial minorities and women in line with the creedal values spelled out in the nation’s charters of freedom. We are now several decades from the key moments of the twentieth century when social movements fractured America’s system of ascriptive hierarchy. The gains from these movements have been substantial. Women now move freely in all realms of civil society, hold high elective offices, and constitute more than 50 percent of the workforce. Most African-Americans have now attained middle class status, work in integrated job sites, and live in suburbs. Finally, people of color from nations in Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean now constitute the majority of America’s immigration pool.
In the midst of all of these positive changes, however, glaring inequalities between groups persist. Indeed, ethnic and racial minorities remain far more likely to be undereducated, unemployed, and incarcerated than their counterparts who identify as white. Similarly, both violence and work place discrimination against women remain rampant in U.S. society. The Routledge series on identity politics features works that seek to understand the tension between the great strides our society has made in promoting equality between groups and the residual effects of the ascriptive hierarchies in which the old order was rooted.
Some of the core questions that the series will address are: how meaningful are the traditional ethnic, gender, racial, and sexual identities to our understanding of inequality in the present historical moment? Do these identities remain important bases for group mobilization in American politics? To what extent can we expect the state to continue to work for a more level playing field among groups?