How popular culture hobbles protest movements

Often, when Americans express support for a particular issue – whether it’s about ending slavery or protecting civil rights – they’ll couch their advocacy with the caveat that the change must be gradual. Big, immediate changes are thought to be dangerous or otherwise impractical.

In learning more about why these attitudes are so resilient, I found that popular entertainment has played a role. For decades, books, movies and records that seem to challenge racism also subtly advance the idea that while progress is a worthy goal, it shouldn’t happen too quickly. There are many examples of this, but let me offer you three that illustrate some main themes.

By Chauncey Maher, Professor of Philosophy, Dickinson College

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