To many, Obama's election meant the dawn of a new "post-racial" era for America. But, say many leading black American thinkers, the reality is much more complicatedby Jonathan Derbyshire / December 20, 2008 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2008 issue of Prospect Magazine
For his article “Post-racial kitsch?” (Prospect, December), Jonathan Derbyshire interviewed a number of leading African-American thinkers, both before and after the US election, about how an Obama presidency would affect America’s fraught racial politics.
His conversations with Kwame Anthony Appiah, a Ghanian-American philosopher and theorist of identity, John McWhorter, an African-American linguist who has attacked “black victimology,” and Tommie Shelby, a historian of the black solidarity movement, are recorded in full here.
3rd November 2008
Conversation between Jonathan Derbyshire and Kwame Anthony Appiah
Kwame Anthony Appiah is a philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist. He is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University
Jonathan Derbyshire (JD): In your epilogue to Color Conscious (1996), you write the following: “There is a great deal of angry polemic about race in this country today…In this respect, discussions of race are perhaps typical, since…public debate on many questions has developed an uncivil inflection.” It does seem as if you’ve been waiting for someone like Barack Obama these past twelve years.
Kwame Anthony Appiah (KAA): I have felt all along that our public debate has been unhelpfully lacking in courtesy. A lot of shouting, not much listening; more posturing than real candour. These are legac…