J. Phillip Thompson’s contribution to the "Reading Racial Conflict" series reflects on the concept of the two proletariats developed by W. E. B. Du Bois in his Black Reconstruction. Du Bois’s notion of a working class bifurcated along racial lines, Thompson argues, is critical for understandings of American capitalism and democracy. Thompson sees movements for racial justice as central to addressing inequalities, no less so than those directly claiming to represent the working class, which have historically tended to exclude black workers.
J. Phillip Thompson
J. Phillip Thompson is an urban planner and political scientist. He is an associate professor of urban planning at MIT. Thompson is a frequent advisor to trade unions in their efforts to work with immigrant and community groups across the United States. Thompson is the author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities, and the Struggle for Deep Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2006). His current work focuses on community health planning, race and development, and the politics of black economic advancement.