What About Disillusionment? Exploring the Pathways
to Black Nationalism
Ray Block Jr.
Published online: 25 June 2010
Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
Abstract Political scientists devote little attention to the attitudinal consequences
of Blacks’ disillusionment with racial progress in America. This oversight under-
mines our understanding of the antecedents of support for the ideology of Black
nationalism. I hypothesize that disillusionment and linked fate interact to inﬂuence
Black nationalism: the stronger one’s disillusionment, the greater her adherence to
this ideology, and the weaker the impact of her linked fate on her expression of
nationalism. Analyses of the 1993–1994 National Black Politics Study and the
2004–2005 National Politics Study corroborate these expectations, indicating that
disillusionment moderates the impact of linked fate on Black nationalism.
Keywords Black nationalism Á Disillusionment Á Linked fate Á Race relations
Historians argue that adherence to Black nationalism––one of the oldest and most
dominant Black political ideologies, which emphasizes racial solidarity, self-
deﬁnition, self-reliance, and self-determination (Moses 1978; Robinson 2001; West
1999)––is partly a function of the perception that America has yet to live up to its
promise of racial fairness (see Bracey et al. 1970; Marable 1985).
However, despite a
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11109-
010-9126-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
R. Block Jr. (&)
Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse,
Room 421 Wimberly Hall, La Crosse, WI 54601, USA
Although many variants exist, the core tents of Black nationalism emphasize racial independence
through the promotion and/or defense of African American interests (Blake 1969; Bracey et al. 1970;
Shelby 2003). To further Black interests, Black nationalists advance a variety of strategies. Generally,
these strategies insist that African Americans unite, gain power, and liberate themselves. Speciﬁc
Polit Behav (2011) 33:27–51