The Public Interest

Toward a future that has no past reflections on the fate of Blacks in the Americas

Orlando Patterson

Spring 1972

THE claim that there is an underlying unity in the New World black experience has been made so often that most people now take it for granted. And yet, in spite of the frequency of these assertions, few have taken the trouble to examine exactly how they may be justified. What is it in the experience of Blacks throughout the Americas (and according to some, the entire world) which establishes the claim that they constitute, in any meaningful sense, a distinct group?

Download a PDF of the full article.



from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.