Document Type

Occasional Paper

Publication Date



The basic social policy issue for African-Americans in the next decade will be a perennial objective - to have policies instituted that will bring them into the economic and social mainstreams of America. The main problems currently faced by blacks are quite familiar: inequalities in economic and social conditions. The new wrinkle in the 1980s is a downturn in racial progress, a downturn that is seen whether one is examining attitudes or specific social policies.

Racial divisions have increased sharply. The Reagan Administration's war against affirmative action, its refusal to allow access to decision-making by minorities, its fight against civil rights legislation, and its often demeaning acts and statements about the poor, have created bitterness among blacks and encouraged racists in the white community.

Against this backdrop, constructing the particular dimensions of policies to deal with the situation of blacks in contemporary America is complicated. This paper discusses issues in economics, education, housing and health, and considers some factors related to developing relevant social policies.


Edited version of paper presented at annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Association, Baltimore, Maryland, March 18, 1989.

Occasional Paper #17.


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