Kareem R. MuhammadJan 22, 2024
The Fight for Black Empowerment in the USA
America’s Last Hope
Dr. Kareem Muhammad has a new book that focuses on the role of Black voters in the United States – specifically in their power as participants in democracy. In many ways, this is a “love story to the Black community” in the U.S. The book traces the sustained electoral power of Black voters, and teases at the fissures within this significant bloc of voters. Muhammad pays particular attention to what it looks like when policies that are important to Black voters are passed and implemented, and how this process reflects the coalition strength of this particular voting bloc. The research also notes that, historically, the Black vote has not really been taken into consideration as an important and vital bloc of voters, and thus less attention is paid to these voters by either party. But the research also notes that the Black vote is, in fact, decisive in supporting a political coalition that then puts into place policies and legislation that this community of voters wants to see established—like Reconstruction, like the Civil Rights agenda in the 1960s, like the efforts to protect democracy now.
The Fight for Black Empowerment in the USA: America’s Last Hope (Routledge, 2023) focuses on just that—the power that individuals have, especially when grouped together, to impact elections, political agendas, and elected officials in office. But this pursuit, of political power and strength within the African American community, is also set in the historical and contemporary context of white supremacy in the United States. This is important to understand since it also highlights what Muhammad refers to as “the bounds of power” within the U.S. It is vitally important to understand the contours of power and what that means and how it is constituted in order to explore empowerment, especially black empowerment. The impetus behind the research and the book was to see if there was collaboration between the black voting bloc and the elected officials they have supported in the contemporary period, specifically the Democratic party and Democratic presidents. But one of the key findings in the research is that there are also gendered differences within the African American community and among African American voters in regard to support and engagement. Diving into popular culture, Muhammad traces these divides, highlighting the sexism, homophobia, and patriarchy that often comes through these cultural artifacts. The research also exposes the discomfort and resentment that some men have with the increased power and influence of black women.
The Fight for Black Empowerment in the USA: America’s Last Hope is a complex analysis, including an assessment of political power in the United States, understandings of how culture interacts with positions within communities, tensions around gender and power, and the collaborations between different political entities, voting blocs, and elected officials. The concluding ideas highlight the particularly vital role that Black Americans, especially Black women, have in protecting democracy in the United States, especially as part of the Democratic Party coalition.
Lilly J. Goren is a professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-host of the New Books in Political Science channel at the New Books Network. She is co-editor of The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (University Press of Kansas, 2022), as well as co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012). She can be reached @gorenlj.bsky.social