This article examines how the racial order in the United States has evolved since the Jim Crow era. Two leading characterizations of the current situation are that we live in a postracial society and that we live in an era best described as the New Jim Crow. We probe the key differences between the Jim Crow racial order and the racial terrain of the current period and come to the conclusion that both claims are inadequate because they are tied to a sanitized and restricted understanding of Jim Crow as a set of legal and state institutions and policies. As such, both frames neglect the economic sphere. This article addresses this silence in the context of black politics. Specifically, we argue that a neoliberal racial order has emerged and that analyses of black politics must attend to the way racial divisions have become magnified in economic policies and civil society. A key claim is that a critical difference between this era and the Jim Crow era is the adoption of neoliberal ideology and support for neoliberal policies by a wide and diverse segment of black elites.
Black Politics and the Neoliberal Racial Order
Michael C. Dawson is John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and founder and current director of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. He is a student of race and politics, public opinion, and black politics. His most recent books are Black Visions (2001), Not in Our Lifetimes (2011), and Blacks in and out of the Left (2013).
Megan Ming Francis is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. She is the author of Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State (2014). Her work sits at the intersection of race, law, history, capitalism, and civil rights. She earned a PhD from the Department of Politics at Princeton University.
Michael C. Dawson, Megan Ming Francis; Black Politics and the Neoliberal Racial Order. Public Culture 1 January 2016; 28 (1 (78)): 23–62. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-3325004
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