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Explicating Black Nationalism

Explicating Black Nationalism

Chapter:
(p.111) 5 Explicating Black Nationalism
Source:
In a Shade of Blue
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226298269.003.0006

This chapter focuses on the nationalist politics of the black power era, but not with the intent of bashing the shortcomings of black nationalism during the 1960s and 1970s. It does not hold the view, for example, that the black power era represents a moment of decline in the black freedom struggle, where the powerful and persuasive moral claims of Martin Luther King Jr. gave way to the polemics of violence. Instead, the chapter holds the view that much of the politics of the era was premised on problematic conceptions of black identity, black history, and black agency, and also considers the problems of definition that plague accounts of black nationalism. One such problem involves judgments as to the merits of nationalist politics. This problematic evidences itself in two distinctive tendencies: celebratory accounts and hypercritical accounts.

Keywords:   black power, black nationalism, black agency, black identity, black history, celebratory accounts, hypercritical accounts, nationalist politics, freedom struggle

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