Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy and Public Affairs

Reader 1

Adrienne Martin

Rights Information

© 2018 Christopher Humphreys


The fact of racial injustice in the US presents the difficult question of which emotional responses are (conceptually) appropriate to the perpetration of that injustice. Given that our answer must be informed by the nature of the injustice, this paper takes up Christopher Lebron’s diagnosis of the persistence of racial injustice against blacks in the US as a problem of social value in order to analyze a candidate response on the part of black americans. If Lebron’s theory accurately describes the problem, then it seems that anger appropriately responds to the injustice. The paper’s aim, then, is to give a positive account of black anger in response to the problem of social value. The account is informed by an analysis of “angry black literature,” i.e. a selection of essays from W. E. B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, and Audre Lorde. Approaching the subject within the framework of analytic philosophy, the paper concludes that anger is appropriate in virtue of its being a response to specific moral failures, and further notes that anger offers the ameliorative benefit of pointing out where those failures have taken place, and how we can avoid them in the future.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.