Nihilism in Black America

Nihilism in Black America

Recent discussions about the plight of African Americans—especially those at the bottom of the social ladder—tend to divide into two camps. On the one hand, there are those who highlight the structural constraints on the life chances of black people. This viewpoint involves a subtle historical and sociological analysis of slavery, Jim Crowism, job and residential discrimination, skewed unemployment rates, inadequate health care and poor education. On the other hand, there are those who stress the behavioral impediments on black upward mobility. This focuses on the waning of the Protestant ethic—hard work, deferred gratification, frugality, and responsibility—in much of black America.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels