There is a popular axiom that states, ‘those who fail to plan, plan to fail.’ There is quite possibly no more succinct means of describing the current politico economic state of Black America. Put simply, we have failed to plan; choosing instead to be wholly reactionary to incidents after they have occurred. Within the African-American community, things are in such disarray that many have publicly questioned if the “Black community” still exists, particularly as there does not appear to be any semblance of political collectivism, economic self-sufficiency, or social decorum.
The issues of politico or socioeconomic collectivism among African-Americans is a topic bantered about and discussed in venues that vary from Black Nationalist gatherings to Black barbershops/beauty salons. All seem to agree that in regards to collective movements, the “Black Community”, a term that appears to be more of an oxymoron as the days pass, is in a downward spiral; however, few understand why this has occurred.
More specifically, how did African-American political leaders, business people, intellectuals, educators, clergymen, the populations that William Edward Burghardt Du Bois characterized as the Talented-Tenth allow this to occur? Were the elite too preoccupied with accumulating material possessions? Were they focused upon giving their offspring everything they never had and in the process failed to inform them that the descendants of enslaved people are eternally inextricably linked with each other? It appears that African-American leaders are the only racial/ethnic leadership group that has failed to deliver the point that collectivist economics and political solidarity are crucial to survival. Failure to understand collectivist politics and the utility of economic solidarity places African-Americans in the peculiar predicament that the great Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes expounded upon in his poem, I, Too
I, too, sing America,
I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to m,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed –
I, too, am America.
One of the most amazing developments in today’s highly contemptuous battle for survival has been African-Americans inability to understand that survival, let alone prosperity, in the game of life hinges upon collectivism and coalitions; and I predict that until those lessons are learned, we will continue to dine in the kitchen that Hughes alludes to, anxious for others to issue an invitation, purely out of the goodness of their heart, to dine with the rest of the nation. That invite will never come from a place of kindness. Put simply, life is analogous to a board game where various races and special interest groups attempt to increase their holdings [political and economic power] through strategic maneuverings, the ability to coordinate with other players, who are invariably receiving some benefit from an always tenuous alliance, increases a group’s opportunity for success.
Considering this analogy, it appears as if other groups — Alternative Lifestyle [Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer], Women [Wealthy, Middle-Class, Working-Class, Asian, Latina, White, Black], Asian [Chinese, Japanese, Filipino] Latina [Mexican, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, Cuban, Dominican] and White [Irish, Anglo-Saxon, Russian, Italian, Polish, German] — are able to make logical moves on the overcrowded game board and forge alliances to advance their unique interests.
Now, it is not that persons of African descent [Nigerian, Jamaican, African-American, Ghanaian, Black Brits, Haitian, Cuban, Brazilian, Caribbean] are not involved in the game, it is that they are the least likely to forge an alliance with other groups, including within their own racial group. Predictably, their attempt to navigate the game of life alone leads to not only frustration, but also the total loss of their political power and total dependence upon others for material survival; they eventually develop a parasitic relationship to a more dominant, not necessarily numerically superior, group.
In due time, some Blacks will make what they consider a logical move to get in the game, a decision that drives home just how uninformed they are in regards to how it is played, they will shun others within their own racial/ethnic group and attempt to join with another group that they have little in common with, thinking that such is an appropriate strategy to extricate themselves out of the cavernous sinkhole they see their race sinking into. Little do they realize, by ignoring their own and forging an alliance with strangers, they have made a Faustian deal that guarantees them nothing more than a few politico economic crumbs that the larger players will offer, but only after their appetite has been satisfied! In their defense, I must add that the primary reason persons of African descent never turn to fellow descendants of Africa to forge coalitions is because they have been taught in classrooms, media, and through experience that, “Niggers don’t know how to handle no business.” It is common to hear vain, boastful Negroes announce that they are the only one’s making significant politico economic moves; we all know that this individual is a fool as he/she erroneously believes that they can singularly take on the world and succeed via some pyramid/get rich quick scheme.
This situation is not new; Marcus Garvey observed over a century ago that throughout his travels in Europe, the Caribbean, South and North America, there were a few constants. Garvey discovered that regardless of where he went, African-Americans were the least educated, the poorest, and in the worst health. The presence of the same situation among populations of persons of African descent on myriad continents screams that such a development is neither a coincidence nor happenstance. Garvey, along with a host of other Black leaders including, but not limited to, The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Albert Cleage, Malcolm X, and Huey P. Newton, repeatedly remarked that the genesis of our oppression emanates from our minds. Meaning, that what we intake into our minds creates our reality. Hence, if one wants to control a person’s reality, they merely need to control what they consume mentally, keep in mind, a major aspect of this process includes the curtailing of certain information from entering into what can be best termed an intellectual diet.
There is ample evidence to support the above observation all around us. It is not coincidental that students who matriculate from Notre Dame are on one accord in regards to the issue of Abortion, just as it is unheard of for modern-day Jews to not support the state of Israel. My point is simply that other groups, [GLBTQ, whites, Asians, Hispanics, Women] those that African-Americans are competing against in the game of life, utilize education as a means of ‘manufacturing consent’ among their group. Such is the favored operations of newly arrived populations to this nation.
How many times have we seen ‘foreigners’ arrive in America under dubious circumstances and within one generation, two generations at the most, they have ‘picked themselves up by their own bootstraps’ and surpassed African-Americans not only in regards to economics, but also in regards to flexing their political muscle. The latter is particularly daunting as these groups are invariably numerically smaller than African-Americans; you must remember that we live in a land that operates under the mantra of ‘one man, one vote’. The path for the aforementioned ‘foreigners’ politico economic improvement never varies; for a period of time they close ranks, mobilize their political and economic resources, the latter is usually achieved by capitalizing upon an economically exploitable Black community, while simultaneously focusing their energies upon hard work and educating their men, women, and children with an eye toward political power, economic self-sufficiency, and a liberating theology. One can not be angry at the alluded to populations for their actions, it is the surest way of improving one’s status in America; the anger should be directed toward those that are repeatedly exploited in the same manner decade-after-decade.
Despite this process occurring right before their eyes, many African-Americans are silly enough to believe in a gospel of individuality. The logic of such Negroes is that if they work diligently enough on an individual basis, success is certain to follow; even a cursory examination of global history reveals the fallacy of such thoughts. I had a professor who once highlighted the fallacy of such thought by remarking, ‘If hard work were all that you needed to succeed in America, Black folk would run this nation because no one has worked harder than us’; hard work and diligent effort, although a part of the equation, is in no way the entire equation.
I must admit that I am amused when Conservative groups such as the Tea Party stand in the midst of their collective group and advise others to seek political power and economic freedom individually, please do not be seduced by the lie of American individualism. It is amazing that those who publicly champion the virtues of individuality are simultaneously mobilizing political resources on a collective basis; do not fret though, they are not totally inconsistent, they intend to enjoy their material gain individually.
This situation begs the question, is there any entity capable of liberating African-Americans politically, socially, and economically. There actually is a group of scholars within the Black Studies Movement, as well as leaders of independent Black organizations such as the Nation of Islam who could forge a plan for our liberation, unfortunately, there is no efficient method of trumping the mistrust sewn in Negro minds. However, it is only the aforementioned entities that we can reasonably expect to use their mental power and resources to study African-Americans for positive, non-exploitative, purposes. Considering the current position of African-Americans, it is foolish for us not to focus our energies upon studying, mobilizing, and then executing a plan to help uplift the race. Failure to do so will most certainly result in a continuation of the dire consequences currently affecting the community.
If you remember nothing else from this blog, please remember that life is like a game, with multiple players possessing the same goal of securing as much political power and economic wherewithal to not only live independently, but also flex those politico economic muscles when need be; a decision that invariably leads those they are in conflict with to behave in a way that is not in their best interests. It will not be until persons of African descent understand that other groups are organized and executing plans aimed at increasing their politico economic strengths. A major ingredient in the collecting of politico economic resources by power brokers is political disorganization and economic inefficiency of other groups. The question facing African-Americans today is the same one that faced them a century ago, how long will they allow the game to operate before they wise up and begin mobilizing their game pieces and develop a strategic plan to not only decisively enter the game in a meaningful manner, but also recognize that the invitation to participate will never arrive; in fact, the game has been going on for centuries, its just that we did not recognize it.