Free «African American Politics» Essay Sample

Population of the United States has become increasingly diverse in its racial structure. To fully comprehend American politics, it is important to take into account political beliefs and attitudes of various ethnic groups and races throughout the country. In particular, African Americans are unique because of their long struggle for their voting rights to be included in American politics, their involvement in governing processes, and because of their visibility among the ranks of public elected officials (Walton et al 52). In contrast to the way African Americans attitudes are viewed as homogeneous, this book explains how basic American principles disrupt group’s harmony due to undesirable racial discrimination and feelings of racial group nonconformity that support collective values among African Americans.

This analysis also documents clear differences among African Americans on the issue of primacy in racial group identities versus national identities, communal principles versus individuality, and social class versus racial harmony. It also focuses on several types of categorization reflected in matters of identity and language use. It seeks to determine their impact and suggests copying mechanisms that might facilitate focusing beyond categories and discovering more favorable symbols of cultural continuity.

 Personal experiences with racial discrimination create differences among African Americans on views about individual versus group strategies for their progress, inhibit their social class standing, and make people's strengthen the feeling of their own financial insecurity. Racial discrimination hinders African Americans from supporting the value of individualism and the primacy of American identity over racial group identity (Derrick 74). In addition, African Americans who do not hold the opinion of existence of unique black experience are more likely to have individualistic traits and express feelings of national vanity. Based on various studies, results show that the upper class African Americans are more likely to consider American principles.

However, the awareness of African Americans tempers these views that social status does not completely overcome the stigma of race. According to the findings, poor working class people are less likely to feel attachment to a national identity in comparison to African Americans of the middle class. Less wealthy blacks view their position in the social class hierarchy as a key factor for defining their identity over questions of whether class or race matters in their lives. In general, social group connections outside race challenge or complement long-existing perceptions of political saliency of African American identities.

Meaning of Identity in Black Public Opinion

Regardless of heated debates about the best plans for racial group development that regularly occur in African American politics, theory of linked fate directs the research to black public opinion, a concept that implies that African Americans have the view that their individual affluences are tied to the welfare of Africans Americans as a group (Jeffrey 120). In studies conducted, the general question of "Whether the destiny of African Americans as a group affects my own life circumstances?" has been used frequently as a mechanism to measure harmony in the black community. This “linked fate” view has been used as a theoretical structure to account for similarity in views on partisanship, public policy, and voting behavior among African Americans. Whereas the structure is worthwhile for explaining some dynamic forces of black views, the viewpoint directs key dimensions of opinion past queries of racial harmony. Actually, several problems arose for thinking about political saliency of racial identity among African Americans when the so-called post-racial period resulted in the election of Barack Obama as the first African American President of the United States.

Following the development of black people since 1970’s, there arose questions about whether race-based concerns reflect political welfare of an entire group. Slow but steady development of black upper and middle classes is one of the sources of these opinions about current African American political conduct. Besides, a number of studies show that many black people often express disappointment with the tradition of dispute activism and the so-called “group-think mentality” that illustrates black political behavior in previous generations (Henry & Charles 99; Ellis 98). It is also evident that important community-based information sources, such as churches, electronic and print media outlets, and civic organizations, that enhance group unity (Carol 103) have experienced fundamental changes that mirror the developments in social and economic inequalities among African Americans. Most of these socialization agents have undergone festering membership in recent decades.

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In addition, integration of black leaders into the conventional institutions that involve coalition building across systems and political parties has moved focus away from race-specific directed strategies to universally-favored policy initiatives. These forces and other foundations of social variance together may combine to weaken the ties of African American identity and create conflicting political views among a growing section of the black populace.

Studies have revealed, for example, that social class differences, gender and sexuality inequalities, and ideological divergences among black leaders have produced a complex political agenda with multiple rather than uniform interests. All of these occurrences make students of black life grow outside their conceptualization of the ”African-American community”. To clearly illustrate this new trend in the life of African Americans, it is necessary to move beyond the linked fate theory to grasp the whole black public views. This is done by taking into account complications of blacks’ identities and social and political approaches by allowing for the saliency of blacks’ social identities beyond race. It is believed that race is no longer a determining factor for one to be successful following the success of Barrack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

The Political Complications of Black Identities

Current black political identities and approaches are complex in nature. We speculate that blacks frequently consider themselves as having many politically significant group attachments. Black people have shown a sense of group harmony that developed from their unique cultural and historical settings in the US (Walton et al 149). Even though it is universally accepted that African Americans care about the welfare of their fellow blacks, this is just a part of the story about how they perceive the political world. It may be important to consider how non-racial identities such as sexuality, gender, or religion might influence political beliefs of this group. It is important to take a look at several factors that may form African Americans’ political uniqueness and perceptions. The identities of black people are very divergent and have a strong impact on people's perspectives. Fundamental beliefs and values build citizens’ views. Predominantly, governing national beliefs such as equality, individualism, liberty, and freedom are believed to affect the views of most Americans (Ellis 84). Since these opinions are widely spread in American political culture, it is not surprising that many would appreciate these essential beliefs. Indeed, as many researchers have noted, African American political beliefs are, in part, shaped by nation’s governing ideas.

Most Americans embrace self-reliance and individualism. Most citizens hold the idea that adults are accountable for their own well-being, personal circumstances, and fate in the society. In addition, these beliefs maintain that members of the society should be able to make decisions on their own rather than relying on others (Derrick 4). Popular culture encourages individuals to work towards this “American Dream”. Since Americans and African Americans have socialized in the same environment, this culture of individualism is bound to influence black people. They end up focusing on themselves rather than embracing the long-time values that enhance the well-being of the black community as a whole. Experiences, such as inequality, marginalization, and racial prejudice, continue to raise doubts about the fairness of American society. As a result, these occurrences affect most of African Americans.

Social class differences provide another foundation for explaining political opinions of black people. Social class position is basically determined by the level of income, occupation, or the level of education. For rich people, racial discrimination might alleviate the development of the broad upper-class consciousness. In addition, class links ought to be much stronger among the poor working class African Americans. Demands for the station in life influence black people of the working class and hence they may see themselves in class rather than in racial terms.

Residential areas also condition political and social attitudes of black people. Living in close proximity with other African Americans promotes racial identity of people as they acknowledge their cultural similarities and have similar experiences. Moreover, frequent exposure to race-oriented dispositions of high-ranked blacks intensifies the salience of race for African Americans (Derrick 125). However, less prosperous black people ought to promote their group awareness in a different way since the residents become aware of their disadvantaged economic situation (Henry & Charles 93).


African American views go beyond group harmony to other facets of life. Encountering discrimination on a daily basis contributes to political segregation, which leads to a feeling of detachment from the nation. Individuals who think of themselves as belonging to a certain stigmatized group would naturally identify themselves with general Americans. All these ideas do not correspond to the dynamic social and economic structures. To offer an alternative to the one-sided perception of African American political attitudes, it is important to consider current consensus on opinions that ignores the key issue that black opinions are divided on a number of significant viewpoints. Actually, the thought that similar opinions exist across manifold dominion is in some way a myth.

Currently, divergences in black political outlooks mirror a convergence of fundamental American values, different class origins, and social encounters. Although a majority of African Americans may express an outward link to their group outside this basic harmony, individuals sharply differ in their opinions about connections to their social class, obligation to fundamental American values, and on national versus racial identity. Particularly, other social factors, apart from race, may increasingly determine how blacks perceive themselves politically.

Most of the differences in political attitudes of African Americans lie beyond the scope of standard matters about group identification. Additionally, academic opinions about the post-civil rights period for black community ought to be transformed to mirror opinion differences that remain to develop in today’s society. These changes will in fact offer a more comprehensive understanding of perceptions of black people.


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