Adolph L. Reed Jr.

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Adolph L. Reed Jr.
Born Adolph Leonard Reed Jr.
(1947-01-14) January 14, 1947 (age 70)
United States
Occupation Professor, writer, political scientist

Adolph Leonard Reed Jr. (born January 14, 1947) is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in race and American politics. He has taught at Yale, Northwestern, and the New School for Social Research and he has written on racial and economic inequality. He is a founding member of the U.S. Labor Party and a frequent contributor to The Progressive and The Nation.

Political views[edit]

Adolph Reed's work on American politics is notable for its critique of identity politics and antiracism, particularly of their role in Black politics.[1][2]

After South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced that African American Republican Tim Scott would be named to the soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat in South Carolina, held by Jim DeMint[3] on December 17, 2012, Reed, in an op-ed published in the December 18, 2012 edition of The New York Times, stated, "It obscures the fact that modern black Republicans have been more tokens than signs of progress."[4] Reed's editorial has been criticized by conservatives who argue that Reed applies the term 'token' to any African American who holds conservative views and posited a correlation between Reed's conviction that GOP policies don’t reflect mainstream black politics to a belief that the tokenism charge does not apply when the African American politician is a member of the Democratic Party.[5][6]

Reed had been a harsh critic of the policies and ideology of Black Democratic politicians. Reed has consistently criticized the politics of Barack Obama, both before and during his presidency[7]

In an article in the The Village Voice dated January 16, 1996, he said of Obama:

In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program — the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics, as in Haiti and wherever else the International Monetary Fund has sway. So far the black activist response hasn’t been up to the challenge. We have to do better.[8]

This was reprinted in Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (New Press, 2000).[9]

Selected works[edit]

  • Without Justice for All: The New Liberalism and Our Retreat from Racial Equality (2001) ISBN 978-0-8133-2051-9
  • Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (2000) ISBN 978-1-56584-675-3
  • Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the Post-Segregation Era (1999) ISBN 978-0-8166-2681-6
  • W.E.B. Du Bois and American Political Thought: Fabianism and the Color Line (1997) ISBN 978-0-19-513098-0
  • "The Allure of Malcolm X and the Changing Character of Black Politics" appears in Malcolm X: In Our Own Image. Editor Joe Wood. St. Martin's Press. (1992) ISBN 0-312-06609-0
  • The Jesse Jackson Phenomenon: The Crisis of Purpose in Afro-American Politics (1986) ISBN 978-0-300-03543-8
  • Race, Politics, and Culture: Critical Essays on the Radicalism of the 1960s (editor) (1986) ISBN 978-0-313-24480-3
  • “Black Particularity Reconsidered”. Telos 39 (Spring 1979). New York: Telos Press.


  1. ^ "On the End(s) of Black Politics". 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2016-11-26. 
  2. ^ "The Trouble With Anti-Antiracism | Jacobin". Retrieved 2016-11-26. 
  3. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer and Jeff Zeleny. "Tim Scott to Be Named for Empty South Carolina Senate Seat, Republicans Say." The New York Times, December 17, 2012.
  4. ^ Reed, Adolph L. " The Puzzle of Black Republicans ." The New York Times, December 18, 2012. Retrieved: 21 December 2012.
  5. ^ Gordon, John Steele."Racism at the Times." Commentary, December 19, 2012.
  6. ^ Husar, Shirley. Tim Scott: 'Token,' 'Oreo,' or conservative black man? Washington Times, December 22, 2012.
  7. ^ Reed, Adolph Jr. " The long, slow surrender of American liberals ." Harper's Magazine, March 2014.
  8. ^ Reed, Adolph Jr. “The Curse of Community,” Village Voice, January 16, 1996
  9. ^ Reed, Adolph Jr., Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (New Press, 2000 (ISBN 978-1-56584-675-3))

External links[edit]