The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America Themes

Shelby Steele
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The Dangers of Black Identity and Black Power

Prior to the Civil Rights Movement, American blacks had to struggle first with slavery and then with life under significant legal, moral, and economic discrimination. After the Civil Rights Movements, blacks found themselves with a wide range of new freedoms that they had no experience with. For Steele, the self-doubt ingrained in black psychology, fear of failure, and this inexperience caused blacks to react negatively to their new freedom. They found a way to create a black identity that made them strong through the black power movement. Black power taught blacks to not be ashamed, to fight aggressively for their rights, and never to apologize for being black.

However, black identity was formed around the reality of a racist white America. When racism actually declined and attitudes changed, the black power identity was threatened. The whole point of black power was...

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This section contains 791 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America Study Guide
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