Radical Philosophy Today

Volume 5, 2007

Democracy, Racism, and Prisons

C. W. Dawson, Jr.
Pages 111-132

When the House Is on Fire
Finding Hope in the Midst of Democratic Despair

This paper is a philosophical, socio-political, analysis of the problem of democratic despair and the possibility of finding hope in the midst of it. The analysis spring boards from a dialectical discussion on the state of Black America between Harry Belafonte, Minister Louis Farrakhan, and Cornel West, to an examination of the reasons for believing this house called America is on fire. The paper then moves to two possible responses for African Americans to the burning house: separatism (physical or psychological), and radical cultural pluralism grounded in a transformative deep democracy. The paper opts for the latter, concludes by offering a new cultural pluralistic democracy as a model for hope, and suggests the basic tools necessary for building such a transformative democracy.