Black Nationalism is defined by Karenga, as the political belief and practice of African Americans as a distinct people with a distinct historical personality who politically should develop structures to define, defend, and develop the interests of Blacks as a people. Black Nationalism can be traced back to the 18th century, back to William Edward Burghardt DuBois, the most prominent black intellectual of all time. Black Nationalism is the response of African Americans to the continual racism and oppression they experience.
It came about because of two reasons; the racism that they faced daily, and being exploited economically by white supremacy. Black Nationalism seeks a solution to the problems that African Americans face on a daily basis After the Civil War, the situation of the black people was not good; it was a semi-free, semi-slave situation. An example of this is tenancy, where the Blacks have control of the work process and work schedule but ultimately had to give up the fruits of their hard work because they were not the landowners.
This kept the Blacks under White dominance, and living in poverty.
Another factor in the economical status of the Black people was the introduction of mass production, new methods and machinery. This caused the loss of many of the jobs being held by the Black men, “Negroes are now restricted more and more to common labor and domestic service of the lowest paid and worst kind. ” The already bad situation became worse when the Depression arrived. Although everyone was affected by the Depression, the Black people were hit the hardest, as DuBois states “in the case of the Negro worker, everything has been worse? the loss has been greater and more permanent. ” ( DuBois, 564) In addition, Black people have always
experienced racism. DuBois communicates this problem in the essay “A Negro Nation within the Nation,” “Negro children are systematically denied education;? Once or twice a month Negroes convicted of no crime are openly and publicly lynched, and even burned?. When a man with every qualification is refused a position simply because his great-grandfather was black there is not a ripple of comment or protest”( DuBois, 563) To survive these conditions, and defend themselves against racism, exploitation and oppression, Black people formed social relationships within their community, which centered mainly around the church.
They fought back with Black unity, the belief that Blacks should come together to fight against their exploitation, oppression, and discrimination. DuBois’s nationalism circulates around three main ideas: First, the belief that all people of African descent shared common goals, and that they should work together in their struggle for equality. Second, he emphasized a cultural nationalism; being the editor of “the crisis” magazine he encouraged the development of black literature and art, publishing the work of many of the most talented black writers and poets, encouraging his readers to see the beauty in black.
Finally, he believed that Blacks should develop a separate “group economy” of producers and consumers, and cooperate as a weapon for fighting economic discrimination and black poverty. DuBois created “Talented Tenth”, the idea of using the “intellectual elite” to fight against racism. He believed the only way to fight racism and oppression was to attack the economic power of the white people. “The thinking colored people of the United States,” he wrote, “must stop being stampeded by the word segregation. . . . There should never be an opposition to segregation pure and simple unless that segregation does involve discrimination.
“(DuBois, 557. ) He believed that some forms of segregation were beneficial to the Black people. This statement from DuBois spurred a lot of controversy and resulted in his resignation form the NAACP, which was primarily made of integrationist, those who refused to see themselves as people of African descent and opposed any form of institutional segregation based on race. Nationalists, on the other hand such a DuBois, saw themselves as descendents of Africa, they emphasized that Black people should create their own economical, cultural and educational institutions. The Conclusion:
Black Nationalism was created as a result of the struggles of the Black people in America, it was necessary for their cultural and economical survival. Some may say that being a nationalist is being a racist; this is true in some cases. Black Nationalism is similar to Kurdish Nationalism, or Armenian Nationalism, the nationalism of oppressed people, struggling for freedom and equality. On the other hand White Nationalism can be compared with Arab or Turkish Nationalism, which includes racism, race superiority, and oppression of minorities and different ethnic groups.
I believe that Black Nationalism is pragmatic, Black people are now proud of their heritage and ancestors, aware of their rich cultural history, and not the image of a lower class, dark-skinned savage inferior to the white supremacy painted by White America. Works Citied DuBois, W. E. B. “A Negro Nation within The Nation. ” W. E. B. DuBois A Reader. Ed. David Levering Lewis. New York, Ny: Henry Holt and Company 1995. 563-570. DuBois, W. E. B. “Segregation. ” W. E. B. DuBois A Reader. Ed. David Levering Lewis. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company 1995. 557-558.