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Ellis Cose: the idea of a united black community


“We should remember, though, that the idea of a united black community that shared perceptions across the board has always been a bit of a falsehood, but it’s also been driven by the fact that blacks were all in the same boat. No one was going to make it out of the ghetto, so you had a forced unity, and a forced commonality of viewpoints. Now you have one set of folks, who, because they were fortunate enough to get very good credentials, can aspire to anything a white guy can aspire to. So it’s inevitable that our outlook on the world’s a little different than that of somebody who’s still stuck in the poor, very segregated black community. But one of the interesting things is that even among that most privileged group, they’re not saying that race no longer matters. Even the most privileged folk are aware that they are subject to being treated quite differently on the basis of race. If there’s anything close to a universal experience among African-Americans, it’s being treated with suspicion in a store, or being approached by a cop for no good reason — they all shared this. I don’t think that there is going to be a loss of a coherent black identity, but I do think it’s gotten a lot more complicated, because people perceive their options in wildly different ways than they did before.”

Ellis Cose, interview with (This is awesome. Read it.)

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