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“Black and Proud”: Reconstructing Black Identity

“Black and Proud”: Reconstructing Black Identity

Chapter:
(p.47) 2 “Black and Proud”: Reconstructing Black Identity
Source:
In a Shade of Blue
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226298269.003.0003

One striking consequence of the tragedy of race in the United States has been a preoccupation with identity formation among African Americans. Because most African Americans entered this fragile experiment in democracy as chattel, the question of who they take themselves to be has been intimately connected to a political and social reality that denied them recognition. How should African Americans understand themselves as individuals and as a group in relation to a nation that historically denied them recognition? A lot is at stake when racial identity in the United States is discussed. And one thing is certain: conceptions of black identity continue to animate the political choices of many African Americans, prompting concerns about how such ideas might affect efforts to secure justice in the democracy that is America. How we think about black identity affects how African Americans understand notions of virtue, right, and the good. This chapter outlines two ways of understanding black identity—an archaeological approach and a pragmatic historicist approach—in each case focusing on its ethical dimensions.

Keywords:   black identity, African Americans, virtue, good, right, archaeological approach, pragmatic historicist approach, democracy, race

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