For all the talk about a new postracial America, the fundamental realities of American racism—and the problems facing black political movements—have not changed. Michael C. Dawson lays out a nuanced analysis of the persistence of racial inequality and structural disadvantages, and the ways that whites and blacks continue to see the same problems—the disastrous response to Katrina being a prime example—through completely different, race-inflected lenses. In fact, argues Dawson, the new era heralded by Barack Obama’s election is more racially complicated, as the widening class gap among African Americans and the hot-button issue of immigration have the potential to create new fissures for conservative and race-based exploitation. Through a thoughtful analysis of the rise of the Tea Party and the largely successful “blackening” of President Obama, Dawson ultimately argues that black politics remains weak—and that achieving the dream of racial and economic equality will require the sort of coalition-building and reaching across racial divides that have always marked successful political movements.
Polemical but astute, passionate but pragmatic, Not in Our Lifetimes forces us to rethink easy assumptions about racial progress—and begin the hard work of creating real, lasting change.