Volume 17, Issue 1, 2014
What Is Radical Philosophy Today?
Black Nationalism and the Politics of Race in the United States
Over the course of the twentieth century, nationalistic approaches to the obstacles of racism in the United States have increasingly come to be seen as the more revolutionary of the various forms of anti-racist struggle. This paper explores several historical instances of Black Nationalism and seeks to demonstrate that, despite the many points on which they might diverge, they share in common a tendency to naturalize and embrace the category of race as a basis for political struggle, and that they therefore constitute an ideologically accommodating and hence essentially regressive approach to the questions of race and racism. It is suggested that a critique of the modern category of race and a political practice aimed at its denaturalization will be a necessary aspect of any attempt to overcome racial oppression and inequality.