The Negro middle class, not unlike middle classes of other minority groups, is characterized by a desire to separate itself from the masses. This is because it has selected the white middle class as its reference group and, therefore, tries to assume the values and attitudes (including prejudices) of this group. The black bourgeoisie identifies blackness with subjugation and shame. … Normally, the black bourgeoisie favors integration as the solution to the race problem. This is because integration operates in the individual self-interest of middle-class blacks. Racial integration promises to fulfill their dream of assimilation. Through integration they hope to be given the high-status, high-income jobs held by whites, to be allowed to move into predominately white suburban neighborhoods and to be accepted as full participants in the social life of their white peers. In short, racial integration offers middle-class Negroes the pleasurable prospect of shedding their blackness.
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Contrary to the popular, “hip hop is dead” platitude, nothing could be further from the truth. Listening to a song entitled “Swear Down” by Black The Ripper (aka Samson) featuring Jeeday Jawz & Fiyah, one can experience the habitual truthfulness that has made hip hop one of the most formidable forms of political education the world has ever known. Samson exposes the fraudulent notion of “equal rights” when he states quite accurately and acutely in the song’s hook:
I swear down something ain’t right
Look around all my people are dying
Fuck the government about equal rights
I see through your lies
I see all the signs
The unquestioned notion of engaging in political struggles with morally bankrupt governments—that dehumanizes people at home and abroad—for “equal rights” only fortifies the rapaciousness of these governments. “Equal Rights” struggles never question the constituent elements upon which these governments function; these struggles engage in doublethink because they never strike at the heart of how these governments dehumanize people. To struggle for “equal rights”, one assumes a servile posture; the corrupt, the rapacious, the atavistic are seen as the paragons of humanity. And this is the struggle, for the brutalized to make themselves more malleable to fit into the brutalizer’s world with the aspiration to take her or his place.
Political struggles for “equal rights”, never question the efficacy of wanting to assimilate into a political framework that creates wretchedness in the first place. Let’s give a hypothetical….say some bullies have been going upside your head for your lunch money at school. You get tired of that shit quick, but you realize that you are powerless to stop the bullies on your own. These fools are organized! You get to asking around and you find out this crew of bullies has been virtually holding other student’s lunch money hostage like U.S. foreign policy does to the rest of the world. So you and your fellow disgruntled students form a coalition to confront this crew; you all are going to take this bully crew out! You have developed a people’s movement so that all students can be a self determining student body, free to choose and eat lunch in peace as you all see fit. But guess what, the crew of bullies gets wind of this new movement to destroy bullying at the school, and they immediately send a message to you that they would like a détente. You talk it over with the other students, and it is democratically decided that the students will send a delegation—that you are a part of—to meet with the bullies to hear what they have to say.
Upon meeting with the bullies, they are more than cordial to you and your delegation; offering you fresh slices of pizza, huge slices of cake, and an endless plethora of thirst quenching beverages—never mind these fools purchased all of these delectable treats with you and your comrades lunch money! So here is the proposal the bullies make to your delegation, each semester they will allow 5 of the student body to join their crew of bullies; upon joining you will enjoy the same fruits (literally) of being a part of such an elite organization of bullies. There is a caveat though, they have the right to arbitrarily change the number of students they allow into the bully organization as they see fit, and new members of the organization do not have a say in the organization until deemed fit by the original bully crew members. “But don’t let these minor details bother you,” the bullies reassuringly tell you. “In demonstrating your ability to organize and fight back, we realized that you are equal to us. And in being equal to us we want to secure your equal rights to bully people as we do…of course within the context that we see fit. Not because we doubt your equality, but because we have more experience in these bullying ventures, and we want to make sure you are successful in your newly obtained equality to us…the original bullies. We also know this delegation is responsible enough–no civilized enough–to understand that “bullieism” has always existed in the world, and to question its efficacy in schools is tantamount to the destruction of civilization.”
Well we already know how this story ends. You and your delegation accept the terms of the bullies, and you sell it to the other students under the guise of “equal rights to bully.” The students accept it, and then they start saying shit like, “We always knew we were just as good as bully-folks,” and, “You know my grandma on my daddy side is really half bully.” What essentially started as a movement to eradicate bullying devolved into the fortification and expansion of bullying. While this analogy may not consist of all the complex nuances of why movements that seek to destroy inequality fail, the point being made in this analogy is that without asking the quintessential question of “Who are the bullies to be equal to?”, the students were destined to fail in their struggle against “bullieism.” Because “bullieism’s” hegemony at the school was in jeopardy, the bullies had to expand membership to “responsible” members of the student body to save their own asses! So in the end, you saw the individual ascension of these “responsible” student body members, meanwhile the condition of the entire student body was left in a worse state because it lost its will to fight “bullieism”, and decided to assimilate into it.
- Robert L. Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist America: An Analytic History (Trent, Africa World Press, 1992), 180. ↩
- Ibid., p. 118-119 ↩