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August 19, 2005

3 x 4 x 5

Over time I have been looking at the few generations of African American as, well a few generations of African Americans. But I've also referred to them as 'blackfolks'. This is primarily to distinguish them from whitefolks based on some online stuff I was doing related to the politics of race and American identity. I think the term has been usefull for what it's worth, but I certainly hope that it hasn't been interpreted as some kind of essentialist or permanent state of consciousness for Africans.

In fact, much of what I do at Cobb is to explain what I think is an important aspect of African American politics from the perspective of the Old School. No matter what the Old School is, it is distinct from what goes under the broad header of 'black'. It is part of my aim to distinguish various parts of the African American populus and electorate, in other words to speak to the diversity of these 36 millions.

In the first regard, I have identified three streams of political orientation: Liberal, Progressive and Conservative. Towards the ends of giving some historical accuracy to these terms, I'm reading 'WEB Dubois and American Poltical Thought: Fabianism and the Color Line' by Adolph Reed. What I believe is that currently the largest number of African Americans in our history are recieving the same education, jobs and housing as their white peers. Because of this, it is perfectly logical that their political ambitions will be very similar to that of their contemporaries. However there will be notable differences in rationale as well as different priorities based upon the politics they have inherited. I intend to come correct, basically.

Existentially, props go to Nelson George for his spot-on characterization of the 'post-soul' generation. Buppies, B-Boys, BAPS and Bohos. The five-way split goes across class. For those, my terms are based on residential profiles. Hill, Burbs, Hood, Ghetto & Projects.

This gives me 60 profiles which I would say are largely attitundinal. I think they may not be predictive, but they go a good ways in getting us to understand some real diversity in African America.

Now what we have to do is start with these simple breakdowns and relate that back to an historical understanding of various ideas. When we talk about a subject like Black Nationalism, I ask, what did it do? Who benefitted? Who tried to sell it to whom? Who was left in and who was left out?

Posted by mbowen at August 19, 2005 03:08 PM

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I would like to add your link to my blog with your permission.


Monika Brooks
Oakland, CA

Posted by: Monika Brooks at August 20, 2005 08:12 AM

I came to your blog to see if you had come up with any more metaphors for how bad you found The Isis Papers.
But this looks interesting.

In trying to distinguish the African American populus and electorate, don't you think you will encounter some overlap between the 3, 4, and fold part divisions? Do you still get 60 profiles if a person falls, say, in Conservative, Buppies, and Burb?

"When we talk about a subject like Black Nationalism, I ask, what did it do? Who benefitted?"

It raised the consciousness of those suffering a collective fate at the bottom of the society in America. It placed their position in a world context

"Who tried to sell it to whom? Who was left in and who was left out?"

Far-sighted individuals coming into America from the West Indies. Assimilationists were left out.

Posted by: Garvey at August 23, 2005 06:50 AM