“Another layer of blackness,” Patrick B. Oray

There was a time when there were agreed-upon “black leaders,” when there was a clear ‘black agenda,” when we could talk confidently about the “state of black America”–but not anymore. Not after decades of desegregation, affirmative action, and urban decay; not after globalization decimated the working class and trickle-down economics sorted the nation into winners and losers; not after the biggest wave of black immigration from Africa and the Caribbean since slavery; not after most people ceased to notice–much less care–when a black man and a white woman walked down the street hand in hand. These are among the forces and trends that have had the unintended consequences of tearing black America to pieces.
There was a time when there were agreed-upon “black leaders,” when there was a clear ‘black agenda,” when we could talk confidently about the “state of black America”–but not anymore. Not after decades of desegregation, affirmative action, and urban decay; not after globalization decimated the working class and trickle-down economics sorted the nation into winners and losers; not after the biggest wave of black immigration from Africa and the Caribbean since slavery; not after most people ceased to notice–much less care–when a black man and a white woman walked down the street hand in hand. These are among the forces and trends that have had the unintended consequences of tearing black America to pieces.
Eugene Robinson, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America (New York:
Doubleday, 2010) 4. Quoted on p.30 of Oray’s dissertation, http://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/5033/

Patrick B. Oray’s 2013 dissertation, “Another layer blackness: theorizing race, ethnicity, identity in U.S. black public sphere,” takes a more granular look at the construction of race in America with particular emphasis on migration and immigration.

 

 

Instead of a singular black identity fueled by our political discourses and popular culture, my project treats “blackness” as a floating signifier that is constructed both within the racial organization of the U.S. nation-state and among the peoples of the black diaspora within its borders. In short, blackness is a matter that has become national, international, and transnational in scope.

 

Read more about how culture and geography among other factors, play a role in Oray’s articulation of race and identity in the U.S. As he points out “Patterns of immigration, return migration and circular migration that […] as well as the circulation of ideas, culture, and history between sending and receiving countries are all issues germane to the process of black immigrant incorporation and black ethnic identity in the U.S.”

Patrick B. Oray. “Another layer of blackness: theorizing race, ethnicity, and identity in the U.S. black public sphere.” PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2013.