This collection of original essays by well-known African-American philosophers considers questions raised by the existence of a group of people in this country whose lives dramatically contradict the American Dream. The plight of the so-called underclass has given rise to intense debates over what social scientists have termed "the paradox of social progress." This is the first full-length philosophical treatment of the underclass debate and one of the few volumes of written by African-American philosophers. The contributors discuss whether the underclass is simply a new label for the poor or whether it indeed represents a distinct class, and they ask: Are there values that are unique to poor urban blacks? What does rap music tell us about the underclass? Do middle-class blacks have an obligation toward poor urban blacks? What are the obligations of the American government to the urban poor? What is wrong with the current conception of urban poverty?
The authors find that a combination of attitudes and assumptions about the impact of race, class, the economy, government policies, and conceptions of citizenship makes it difficult to formulate policies that redress the problems faced by the urban poor. Author note: Bill E. Lawson is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delaware.
Bill E. Lawson is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delaware.
Foreword --William Julius Wilson Preface 1. Meditations on Integration --Bill E. Lawson Part I: Class Analysis 2. The Underclass and the Race/Class Issue --Bernard R. Boxill 3. Agency and the Concept of the Underclass --Leonard Harris Part II: Urban Values 4. The Black Underclass and the Question of Values --Howard McGary 5. Marooned in America: Black Urban Youth Culture and Social Pathology --Tommy L. Lott 6. Uplifting the Race: Middle-Class Blacks and the Truly Disadvantaged --Bill E. Lawson Part III: Social Policy 7. Legal Rights for Poor Blacks --Anita L. Allen 8. Affirmative Action and the Urban Underclass --Albert G. Mosley 9. Social Policy, Ethical Life, and the Urban Underclass --Frank M. Kirkland Epilogue: Back on the Block 10. Philosophy and the Urban Underclass --Cornel West About the Contributors Index