"Professors Michael Dawson and William Julius Wilson and the Reverend Eugene Rivers discuss The Future of Black Politics, the subject of *Boston Review*'s current issue. How has the field of black politics changed in recent decades? Are the issues facing impoverished African American communities today best addressed by race-based or class-based initiatives? What has President Obama done to specifically help African American communities? Why does their seem to be a lack of African American politicians who are willing to champion African American causes? These are some of the questions explored in this panel discussion. Michael Dawson's most recent book is *Not in Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics*. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, polls revealed that only 20 percent of African Americans believed that racial equality for blacks would be achieved in their lifetime. But following the election of Barack Obama, that number leaped to more than half. Did that dramatic shift in opinion really reflect a change in the vitality of black politics'and hope for improvement in the lives of African Americans? Or was it a onetime surge brought on by the euphoria of an extraordinary election? Dawson shows that it is the latter: for all the talk about a new post-racial America, the fundamental realities of American racism'and the problems facing black political movements'have not changed. With *More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City*, William Julius Wilson explains a new framework for understanding racial inequality, challenging both conservative and liberal dogma. Wilson analyzes the persistence of the inner-city ghetto, the plight of low-skilled black males, and the fragmentation of the African American family. Though the discussion of racial inequality is typically ideologically polarized, Wilson considers both institutional and cultural factors as causes of the persistence of racial inequality."
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