During the 1980s and 1990s the black public sphere has expanded in reach and complexity even as progressive black political agendas have been and continue to be shattered and social programs gutted. Today, African Americans find themselves more highly integrated into American life than ever before, and yet, in many ways they are still as thoroughly segregated as at any time during this century.
To think about the black public sphere we have to be willing to rethink the relationship between markets and freedom, commodity and identity, property and pleasure. This book provides more sophisticated approaches to matters historically consigned to inadequate rubrics—"the Negro problem," "subcultures," "minorities," "inner city," and "multicultural." While these rubrics constrict and stereotype, the analytic potential of the black public sphere is that it facilitates new ways to discuss democratic values and citizenship.