"Understanding Black Social Identity"
Lionel McPherson (Tufts University)

June 23, 2017, 3:30am - 5:00am
Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT

32 Vassar Street
United States


  • Mellon Foundation
  • Harvard University
  • Tufts University
  • Wellesley College


Fields Keota
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Rivera Lisa
University of Massachusetts, Boston

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Abstract: Understanding Black American social identity has suffered from association with the race idea. Being Black American is not a racial designation. The tendency to reduce color-conscious social identity to racial classification is a mistake. Black American social identity gets its “blackness” from traceable African ancestry and is marked by the legacy of slavery. Yet, I argue, being Black American has become an elective identity: Americans with visible African ancestry no longer must count as Black. This hardly threatens Black social identity and Black solidarity, which continue to represent resistance to dishonor and mistreatment attaching to blackness in the United States.

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