The Millions More Movement, Cosby's 'call-outs,' and other recent trends renew an old approach to black political thought and practice. The racial uplift tradition tries to improve the conditions of black life by insisting on moral refinement and race-based organization. Uplift ideology and practice have a long and storied past, but critics of the tradition worry over its limitations. Some express concern that it is anti-democratic, intolerant, elitist, sexist, and heterosexist. Others think it focuses too much on personal morality and cultural pathology and not enough on social justice and political economy.
The participants in the 'Stand Up!' symposium will think through the risks and rewards of this new racial uplift politics. This interdisciplinary exercise in public philosophy will explore the implications of a social phenomenon with broad ethical significance. The new politics of racial uplift emerges from a widely shared conviction that something is deeply wrong in American society. Our public philosophy conference will take this judgment seriously, and subject this politics to searching and critical scrutiny.
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