Volume 19, Issue 1, 2009
Coalitions Across Difference
Thin Skin, Thick Blood
Identity, Stability And The Project Of Black Solidarity
In this essay I argue for the role of positive, community-based black identities (in the plural) in the creation and maintenance of black solidarity. I argue against Tommie Shelby’s attempts to reduce the notion of black identity as it relates to solidarity from something social or cultural to something entirely political—“thin” black identity. As an alternative, I propose a model for the relationship between “thin” and “thicker” (social or cultural) identities based on Rawls’ contention that the stability of overlapping political consensus is
produced by different groups’ adherence to, rather than denial of, a plurality of comprehensive doctrines. I also discuss the benefits of positive, community-based black identities in terms of “black love” and show why, even if not possessed by each and every black American, such identities are ultimately indispensible to any black solidarity project.