October 29, 2011


Tommie Shelby, We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity (Cambridge, Massachusetts, & London, England: Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 2005) ("I aim to reflect on and ultimately to assess the value of racial solidarity as a basis for current political practice among African Americans." "My book . . . provid[es] a reconstruction and defense of the underlying principles of black solidarity. This defense is forthrightly anti-essentialist. I seek to identify a basis for black political unity that does not deny, downplay, or disparage individual or group differentiation within the black population. I insist that there are many, perhaps incommensurable, ways to be black, none more 'natural' than the others. Yet I also defend a conception of black solidarity that is not only, or even primarily, concerned with questions of identity, but that urges a joint commitment to defeating racism, to eliminating unjust racial inequalities, and to improving the material life prospects of those racialized as 'black,' especially he most disadvantaged." "I will argue that it is possible to dispense with the idea of race as a biological essence and to agree with the critics of identity politics about many of its dangers and limitations while nevertheless continuing to embrace a form of blackness as an emancipatory tool." Id. at 3-4.).