Since their emancipation from physical slavery in 1865, black descendants of slaves brought to what is now known as the United States have fought for full incorporation as citizens. For blacks, incorporation meant the right to own property, vote, move freely across provincial borders, and be free from racial violence whether perpetrated by individuals or the State.
The primary reason for the incomplete incorporation process was the view of the European that blacks, based on their race, did not have equal value as humans, a view that one group must have in order to justify enslavement. Another reason closely related to race is based on the process of becoming a nation-state, a process that caught blacks in the crossfire.
By the time blacks were physically emancipated from slavery, the United States was becoming a nation-state. Having abandoned the British monarchy 89 years earlier, by 1865 America was expanding westward riding the wave of white, Anglo-Saxon manifest destiny. During the period after 1865, the United States continued its campaign of pacifying indigenous tribes while importing and regulating the movement of Chinese. And while there was internal conflict between other European ethnic groups and Anglo-Saxons, these groups were able to be incorporated much easier than indigenous tribes, the Chinese, or former slaves of African descent.
The Chinese and other Asian groups have managed to balance maintaining their culture while incorporating to some degree into the American political economy. While state and federally recognized indigenous tribes have limited sovereignty and ownership or use of certain lands, these groups see internal and external threats to their culture including poverty, alcoholism, encroachment on tribal lands by certain corporations, and subjugation to blood quantum tests.
The common thread, in my opinion, between Asians and indigenous tribes is that they have some land to fall back on; some physical reference point that anchors their history and existence. Blacks in the United States do not have that advantage. Besides historical records of slavery and the use of DNA testing, blacks have little connection to the African continent. America is their “soil”, their roots and some would argue that their status as descendants of involuntary migrants and slaves means a perspective significantly different from people who came to the U.S. voluntarily.
The downside of the “involuntary migrants and slave status” argument is that it falls on the deaf ears of those for whom the United States was created. If such an argument was effective, incorporation of blacks into American society would have occurred a century ago. Moral or emotion-driven arguments do not result in acquiring and distributing sufficient resources necessary for individuals in a community to sustain themselves. The current approach asks that a white-dominated government distribute temporary, sub-par benefits that act as a replacement for capital.
Sub-par public educational services do not teach children critical thinking skills that go along with the life skills provided by their households. Sub-par medical services while subsidizing drug prices thus the revenues of the drug industry do not provide the wellness information that keeps individuals truly healthy. Sub-par public safety that subsidizes police terrorism not community security does not benefit blacks either. The American political system feigns a sub-par community approach when in reality it is a temporary bandage designed to keep the barbarians from knocking down the gate.
The American political economy has been telling black Americans to “go your own way” for some time now. Maybe it is time to listen.