Professor Cedric Johnson featured Symposium & Jacobin

protesters hold poster

Historian Cedric Johnson’s essay “The Panthers Can’t Save Us Now,” published in 2017 in the new socialist journal Catalyst, generated a lot of discussion and won the Daniel Singer Memorial Prize. 

Addressing a historic discussion about the tensions between race and class for socialist strategy, Johnson argued against the legacy of racial essentialism in contemporary political movements, and for a class analysis rooted in a materialist understanding of Black political life. 

Cedric was asked if he would be willing to extend his argument for New Politics and he graciously agreed to do so. Three scholars and activists (Jay Arena, Touré Reed, and Mia White)  commented on the significant political issues he has raised, though they do so without having seen Johnson’s new essay. 

As an updated look on Black Political Life and the Blue Lives Matter Presidency, Johnson wrote an article in Jacobin Magazine on February 17th, 2019. He writes, 

This essay expands the arguments of my Catalyst article by addressing the prevailing hesitation to engage in class analysis of black life. Many left activists and academics continue to abide the notion of black exceptionalism, that there is something unique and incommensurable about the experiences of blacks that prohibits any substantive discussion of class position and interests whenever the black population is concerned. This posture is wrong and dangerous. It is not grounded in any close empirical sense of actually existing black life, but retreats toward the most unidimensional sense of the black population as noble, long-suffering victims of oppression and the moral conscience of a white-dominated nation, rather than a people possessing all the social contradictions, ideological diversity, foibles, heroism, and frailties found throughout the American populace."