In a Shade of BluePragmatism and the Politics of Black America

In a Shade of BluePragmatism and the Politics of Black America

Eddie S. Glaude

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226298245

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book makes a plea for black America to address its social problems by recourse to experience and with an eye set on the promise and potential of the future, rather than the fixed ideas and categories of the past. Central to its mission is a rehabilitation of philosopher John Dewey, whose ideas, it argues, can be fruitfully applied to a renewal of African American politics. The book suggests that Dewey's pragmatism, when attentive to the darker dimensions of life—or what we often speak of as the blues—can address many of the conceptual problems that plague contemporary African American discourse. How blacks think about themselves, how they imagine their own history, and how they conceive of their own actions can be rendered in ways that escape bad ways of thinking which assume a tendentious political unity among African Americans simply because they are black. Drawing deeply on black religious thought and literature, the book seeks to dislodge such crude and simplistic thinking and replace it with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for black life in all its variety and intricacy. It argues that only when black political leaders acknowledge such complexity can the real-life sufferings of many African Americans be remedied, an argument echoed in the recent rhetoric and optimism of Barack Obama's presidential campaign.