Using the term ",exodus politics", to theorize the valorization of black maleleadership in the movement for civil rights, Robert J. Patterson explores the ways in which thepolitical strategies and ideologies of this movement paradoxically undermined the collectiveenfranchisement of black people. He argues that by narrowly conceptualizing civil rights in onlyracial terms and relying solely on a male figure, conventional African American leadership, thoughfrequently redemptive, can also erode the very goals of civil rights. The authorturns to contemporary African American writers such as Ernest Gaines, Gayl Jones, Alice Walker, andCharles Johnson to show how they challenge the dominant models of civil rights leadership.He draws on a variety of disciplines-including black feminism, civil rights history, culturalstudies, and liberation theology-in order to develop a more nuanced formulation of blacksubjectivity and politics. Patterson's connection of theconcept of racial rights to gender and sexual rights allows him to illuminate the literature'spromotion of more expansive models. By considering the competing and varied political interests ofblack communities, these writers reimagine the dominant models in a way that can empower communitiesto be self-sustaining in the absence of a messianic male leader.
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