An analysis of the recent switch from the name Black to African American symbolizes a reconceptualization of Americans of African descent away from race to culture. This book examines the emergence of a new representation whose rapid spread has been fuelled by widely shared projections of a different future capable of overcoming the legacy of racism.
Far from being just another label, the new name is capable of representing the group in question by projecting a different future for all of us in a multicultural America based on inclusion, fairness, and equality. Such projections are collectively elaborated, driven by the adoption of African American in the media as a more positive alternative to Black and its equally consistent use among a socio-demographically distinct subgroup of black Americans as a vehicle for a new self-identity. The contradistinction between these two alternative terms implies two different representations of the same group, one still based on race and the other rooted in culture. This tension between race and culture, crystallized in the competing uses of Black and African American, points to a more profound cultural transformation currently under way in America. This book takes a close look at the current state of flux in race relations in the United States through the lens of a social psychologist focusing on the emergence of an alternative name as a new social representation.
About the Author:
GINA PHILOGÈNE is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.