She noted the massive drug problem in black communities, the soaring high school dropout rate, the large number of young men in prisons, the lack of educational and employment opportunities.
Blacks are not a "monolithic group--we have class differences . . . so it's unfair to say that these should be the concerns of everybody," she said. "But the extent to which we still have a large number of black people in this country impoverished . . . we must be concerned about those issues over and above whether the labeling is correct."
Those concerns, Edelin agrees, are precisely what she wants to address. But self-perception, group identity are part of the struggle to improve life for African-Americans, she said.
"Only culture moves people forward, and we are not systematically developing our culture at this point," Edelin said. "We are working very hard one by one, but not working together."