Mark Anthony Neal asks the same question I'm wondering now that Obama is President-elect—whither black progress:
Obama showed a particular disdain throughout his 21-month campaign with being thought of as a black candidate or as a broker for black issues. The President-elect will likely show the same disdain for a black political establishment wholly wedded to the race politics of a quarter century ago.
If the NAACP, National Urban League and Congressional Black Caucus aim to remain relevant in the future, it is this new coalition of progressives that they will need to provide leadership for, taking advantage of the political will that Obama's campaign has generated.
How do groups like the NAACP and Urban league play a leadership role in a broad progressive movement—in which race is only part of a broader platform centered on traditional issues of social justice (policing, incarceration rates, equitable wages), tax relief for middle income families, a repeal of No Child Left Behind and what Van Jones, in the name of the Green Industry, calls Eco-equity?
Mark (my almost-homey/beloved 'boy') is too well-mannered to answer his own question, but I will: The old school Movement apparatus won't play a role in the social justice movement as long as it stays wedded to its old tactics.
Real as racism remains, the only way to move forward using the algorithm that Obama pioneered—cross-class, cross-racial, cross-age—is by including everyone. Maddening as it is for blacks, America's most oppressed minority, we have to accept that the country must move to class- and problem-based formulations of both problems, and solutions—not just demands for America to admit to its race- and classism.
The only way a broad swath of Americans will agree to anything smelling of affirmative action is if a broad swath can benefit from it. So blacks have to join the rainbow coalition calling for WPA-type responses to the rampant unemployment we're facing, educational reform and investment based on the socio-economic class of underserved communities and not just 'black' schools, criminal justice system reforms that include rednecks and trailer parks, not just 'hoods. Don't believe me?