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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 22, Fall 2002

Howard J. Vogel
Pages 201-228

African Americans and the Right to Self-Determination in a Christian Context

The domestic legal obstacles to affirmative action to address the problem of the color line that have arisen in the United States in the past 30 years have become the occasion for discouragement and even despair in the face of the persistent racial disparities in American life. This is due, in part, to the limits of our domestic vocabulary for speaking about such initiatives. In this paper I argue that Christian ethics, with the help of the resources of the emergent minority rights dialogue in international human rights, can play an important role in securing the cultural transformation needed to broaden our vocabulary and reframe our thinking so that our efforts to secure racial justice are not bound by the limits of the conventional domestic vocabulary. Specifically, I argue that the new international discussion of "the right to self-determination" can be usefully employed within Christian ethics to secure the cultural, moral and legal changes needed to secure racial justice in the United States.

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