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Black Leadership Analysis

This is an unofficial Spiral Dynamics blog. It is not endorsed by D. Beck PhD.

Ancestral Reverence in Shadow Work

Part of Buddhist and African spirituality is reverence for your ancestors. In both frameworks, ancestors provide guidance and assistance. In addition to the help they can provide, people that adhere to these spiritualities use ancestral reverence as a way to recognize and thank our forebears for their sacrifice. The practice allows for a person’s ancestors to move through them. Reverence for ancestors will also aid in coming to grips with yourself as part of an unbroken continuum of experience. The continuum stretches back to the beginning of time and forward until the end of time. The continuation happens whether an individual has children or not. The ancestors will help a person to integrate aspects of their personality.

My ancestral reverence practice occurs after my daily meditation. After meditation, I bow, the Buddhist term is half-prostration, and imagine how my ancestors looked. In meditation, a person should move away from using words and attempt to concentrate on first order sensations. I chose as my ancestral image to be a slave. For me, a female image is more natural and more soothing. I am not sure why.

I feel Black Americans need to come to terms with our slave ancestry. The first step for us was coming to grips with our African ancestry. Black Americans were told the pre-colonial Africans were primitive and lacked culture. Those myths have been debunked, and most blacks understand that African civilization was advanced.

I viewed my slave ancestry as something I have to overcome. My slave ancestors sacrificed for me to be here. I now owe them being successful. If I am unsuccessful, their sacrifice was for nothing. I suspect many other people feel the same way.

What I was missing was slaves had full lives in spite of the oppression. The slaves sought wisdom, savored the few pleasures they had, and found love. I am a product of them finding love. When I came to grips with that, I could allow myself to live a full life. My life doesn’t solely have to be about being successful. My slave ancestors showed me how to have a full life in spite of oppression. I owe them being happy, not successful.

Anyone that follows my blog knows I have completed extensive research on the Pullman Porters. While doing research, I stumbled across many stories of the abusive treatment the porter’s received. Porters were called every racial slur. One of the most frequently used was calling all porters “George.” The name came because a man named George Pullman owned the Pullman company. During slavery, slaves were named after their master. Most passengers, especially from the south saw the porters as slaves and treated them accordingly.

These stories triggered me emotionally. Many times in my career I did not speak up when I or someone around me suffered a racial injustice. Many of my black co-workers expressed that I was extremely passive. I had a rocky start to my career and felt I needed to concentrate on the “nuts and bolts” of the job. I avoided unnecessary conflict because I had very little experience and could be replaced easily if things come to a head. I was fired from my first job due to having a racial conflict, and I did not want to repeat this pattern.

I often second guess my decision on this job. I regret not standing up for myself and others more. I have a few instances, in particular, I regret very much. I justify it to myself by saying I had to take care of business. I needed to hold on to the job and gain experience. Deep down I feel not only did I not stand up for myself, but I also did not stand up for my race.

I contrast my struggles with what the Pullman Porters accepted from the company and what they were able to accomplish in the field of Civil Rights. Even if a porter was completely passive, he was part of an organization, if he joined the union, which laid the foundation for the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. If he was kowtowing, he kowtowed for the struggle. If a few racist white people laughed about making a spectacle of a porter, who cares? The porter laid the foundation for me.

I am not saying I have accomplished anything anywhere near as significant as the Pullman Porters. However, progress is not about individual achievement. Progress is about community achievement. I could get the opportunity to redeem myself, someone in a future generation could redeem me. Everyday I decide if the cumulative affects of my actions are positive or negative. Being black is not about winning every fight; no one wins every fight. The goal is to have a larger balance of positive action than negative actions. Your positive action balance is tallied every day. In each moment you create your legacy.

I recently, re-read Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries. In the book, he recounts a story of meeting a black man in Peru that reported the murder of his friend. Below is the quote:

“Until this point, we had been traveling in the same truck as the black guy who had reported the murder. At one of the stops along the road, he bought us a meal and throughout it, lectured us on coffee, papaya, and the black slaves, of whom his grandfather had been one. He said this quite openly but [in] it you could detect a note of shame in his voice. In any case, Alberto and I agreed to absolve him of any guilt in the murder of his friend.”

The man from Peru had an intellectual understanding of the history of his people. The man did not have emotional acceptance, hence the shame. A person must foster both the intellectual understanding and the emotional acceptance. I feel that we as black people have a difficult time with the fact we have had to and still have to acquiesce to injustice. It is a survival method forged by our slave ancestors and is often still useful. Black people hate to admit that they had to acquiesce and others around them had to acquiesce.

The shame of acquiescence causes black people to vilify many our mainstream Civil Rights leaders as Uncle Toms. Many hate that A. Philip Randolph had to say the racist American Federation of Labor leader and L. Johnson was a greater friends to blacks than Lincoln. He was able to accomplish more than any other Civil Rights leader. Randolph was not a dogmatist; he was a pragmatist. He built relationships and allied with those he needed, not those with similar views. He separated the needs of the group and race from his personal need for pride. The same goes for Ed Nixon who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Nixon was also pragmatic and extremely successful. He is now often viewed as a Tom. These men should be revered as examples of successful leadership.

I think the vilification of Nixon and Randolph would lessen if black people came to grips with their issues with acquiescence. Once a person accepts they did not directly confront the racism they encountered they can accept the behavior in other people. When can then realistically evaluate the sum of all actions and determine if the leader was successful or not. It is true many leaders acquiesce and get no benefit to themselves and the race at large. Acquiesce without results should be vilified. However, if you can prove the leader made the material conditions of black life better, then give the leader the credit they deserve.

To recap, ancestral reverence will help to integrate various aspects of a person’s personality. Once a person has a better understanding of themselves and their psychology, they will reevaluate many leaders from a more logical standpoint. Often we don’t like in leaders aspects of ourselves. As a community, doing shadow work will help us to choose the most suitable leaders.

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Analysis: Asa Philip Randolph

What He Has Right

Randolph’s treatise on lynching was superb. He understands and relays to the audience the underlying cause of lynchings is economic, not racist. By being able to see the bigger picture, the audience can understand the manipulation. The treatise on lynching illustrates how race issues are rooted in economics.

Randolph did understand the causes of World War I. Many modern historians point to the German colonial expansion was a catalyst for the War. Also, the war can be a boost for the economy and did boost the economy in America and Europe. The war utilized idol materials and workers.

He also understands that global peace will only come after all people are independent and self-agentic. He realizes that the non-European countries are not ready for full independence as of yet. However, the European countries should nurture and bring the countries along.

Randolph’s ultimate plan of bringing together black and white workers will work to the benefit of all involved. Uniting the workers will reduce the number of people willing to cross picket lines and gives the union more power. However, he also understands people will not integrate without laws forcing them to do so. He knows the failure to comply should lead to a loss of funding or political power.

The march toward fair hiring practices will require sustained action. He encouraged the crowd to take the energy back home. He also tutored younger leaders such as Martin Luther King. Randolph understood the process would not only extend his whole life, but it will extend through many lifetimes.

Randolph is correct that he and more moderate Civil Rights leaders are the voice of most Black Americans. Only Dr. King can rival Randolph’s list of accomplishments. Integration is the only way forward for a people systematically disenfranchised. Blacks should not leave or separate. Blacks were an integral part of the building of the country and should reap all the same rewards.

What He Has Wrong

Peace is not a sufficient motivator to get the European countries to facilitate the growth of Non-European countries. The Orange meme, which most European countries were operating at the time, has no reason to help other countries grow. In the Orange meme, the European countries want to have as much status and resources as possible. If profit sharing and knowledge sharing happens, the European countries must give up their status. Here are a list of reasons why the European nations will never facilitate third world growth

1. The European nations want to keep the resources to themselves
2. The European nations want to keep labor cheap
3. The European nations do not see the natives as intellectual equals
4. Admitting that change is needed proves that the European countries were wrong in the past

Full equability requires a shift in consciousness. No council full of countries at Orange level consciousness will perpetuate the current system. That doesn’t mean that a council will not at least ensure the world does not regress. However, profound psychological work will be needed by a large group of individuals before any real progress occurs. At the time Randolph was writing this treatise very few people had made the connection between spirituality, politics, and psychology. The modern day analyst, especially the integralist, can see where this philosophy is lacking.

His framing of President Johnson is overly rose-colored. It is important for the reader to know that Johnson was a Dixiecrat and supporter of segregation until he became president. Most other historians recount how afraid most black people were when Johnson took over the Presidency. Johnson did sign some of the most important Civil Rights legislation. However, the motivation was more political than moral. A separate blog post is needed to give this subject justice.

It is also clear that Dr. King was under FBI surveillance during his entire career. Johnson had to be aware of this fact. To say Dr. King and Johnson had good relations is simply not accurate.

The Democratic party absorbed most of the Civil Rights leadership of the 1960’s. Randolph knew he had to keep his political allies to push forth more legislation. Randolph was also Vice President of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO was strongly allied with the Democratic party. Randolph was being pressured on all sides to keep a positive relationship with the Democrats.

Where is A. Philip Randolph on the Spiral

A Philip Randolph is in the Orange Meme Integrationist. He is a Democratic Socialist that supports First Order Change. Randolph saw race as a subset of the larger issue of economic inequality. In his work, he concentrated on American blacks. Even though he did have a world perspective, which is usually Orange Meme, his work was all in America. Randolph was a power player in the Democratic Party for decades and had recognition internationally. He concentrated on America.

At the beginning of his career, he wanted Second Order change and supported the revolution in Russia. He saw the treatment of minorities in the USSR and determined Communism was severely lacking. Just because he felt the system was superior that did not mean change was not needed. Randolph demonstrates pragmatism in action.

I saw no change in values, so there was no shift up or down the Spiral in Randolph’s public life. He is centered in Orange the entire time.

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March on Washington Movement

After the departure from the National Negro Congress, A. Philip Randolph tours the country with his Brotherhood Vice-President Milton Webster. Webster has the idea of a mass demonstration in Washington. He suggests 10,000 people Marching on Washington. [1] Randolph closes his speeches with a call for a mass protest. The idea spreads like wildfire. In 1941, many are calling for Randolph to go through with the march. Black people have been excluded from the Defense Industry too long. Randolph also wants to end Jim Crow in the military.

Randolph started the March on Washington Movement to create a new coalition to create a mass demonstration to force the government to end segregation in the military and defense industry. He allies with the NAACP, Federal Council on Negro Affairs, and National Urban League. [2]All groups are moderate Civil Rights organizations that wanted first-order change.

Mary McLeod Bethune headed The Federal Council on Negro Affairs. She was a Washington insider that had unprecedented access to the Roosevelts. She was the highest paid government official at the time. [6] Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt were close friends. Bethune received inside knowledge on how the President thought and had an advocate for blacks that is extremely close to the President.

Walter White headed the NAACP at this time. White was another Washington insider and had several meetings on the topic of desegregation in the defense industry. [6] In later years, Randolph and White become rivals and tell conflicting stories about who convinced Roosevelt to sign the executive order. Ultimately, both men had influence on Roosevelt. White pressured from inside the White House. Randolph pressured from outside the White House.

He now needs to ensure those that want second-order change, the Communist, are excluded from the group. He calls for only black people to come to the march. At the time, few whites outside the Communist Party had interest. There were very few black people in the Communist Party because they abandoned the cause of Civil Rights during World War II. Calling for only black people to be at the march was a shrewd method to dissolve the threat of Communist agitation. There is still bad-blood between the two groups since the National Negro Congress split and the Communist could use a disturbance at the march to reduce A. Philip Randolph’s power.

Roosevelt never said he was against desegregation, but he did not actively support Civil Rights. He needed Southern support to pass and continue the New Deal. To keep the Southerners support, he purposely excluded domestic and agricultural workers from New Deal benefits. At the time 60% of black people were domestic and farm workers. Roosevelt also refused to back an anti-lynching bill in 1938.[3] No matter what Roosevelt personally believed, he would always act with political motives.

The USA had not entered World War II in the summer of 1941. Roosevelt wanted to aid the allies in not only supplies but soldiers. He also was framing the war as a struggle against tyranny and genocide. A mass demonstration against racism would call into question America’s moral authority in the war. Roosevelt could not risk a civil disturbance at this critical time.

Eleanor Roosevelt, heavily influenced by Bethune, calls A. Philip Randolph to discuss postponing the march. Randolph agrees to meet with Roosevelt, other Civil Rights leaders, and various cabinet members. According to Randolph in a 1968 interview, Roosevelt was chiefly worried about a civil disturbance at the march. [4] Roosevelt initially proposed an executive order to outlaw segregation in the government contracted defense industry in return for calling off the march. Randolph would not agree. He demanded that the government include non-contract defense industry. Randolph is only willing to postpone not stop the march. Roosevelt balked at first but ultimately capitulated. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 8802 two days before the march. [4]

Randolph makes a unilateral decision to call off the march. [2]It is possible he did not have enough time to consult with the rest of his team. It could be that he thought the team would not agree unless the order included the military. Many historians chastise Randolph for unilaterally calling off the march. Originally the March on Washington Movement was a collaboration among equals; now it was Randolph’s group.

There is another group of historians that believe Randolph would not have been able to make the march happen. [6] Washington was a segregated city at that time, that meant few accommodations for housing and restricted access by rail. Because many of the rural areas around DC did not have black newspapers, word of the March spread in major cities across the country not to blacks within driving distance. It is possible that Randolph knew he would not be able to gather his 100,000 people.

Randolph has only postponed the march he has not called it off altogether. He now has branches in Los Angeles, Chicago, Trenton, Milwaukee, Washington, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Atlanta, Savannah, St. Paul, and Jacksonville. [2] The new national movement was successful in creating demonstrations in New York, Chicago, and St. Louis.

Roosevelt created the Fair Employment Practice Committee, FEPC, to enforce desegregation in the armed forces. He appoints Southerner Mark Ethridge to oversee the committee. Ethridge was a staunchly believed segregation had moral and practical justification. [2] The FEPC has no authority to punish the contractors or government agencies if they are found not obeying the executive order. The result of the FEPC is only documentation that segregation is happening. [2]The FEPC ended due to government cuts in 1943.

The FEPC did have practical reasons for not punishing desegregation. The country was in the middle of supplying and fighting (by the end of 1941) a war effort. Stopping a production line or pulling a contract could get people killed on the front line. However, there could have been measures taken that would not shut down the line, such as disqualification in future contracts.

Randolph continues to use the threat of a mass protest to pressure the government into desegregating the military. To execute a massive protest, he needed more organizational infrastructure. In the 1942 conference, organizational ground rules are made. The first is no money from whites. The MOWM can only serve blacks if it is funded by blacks. The second was a complete denouncement of communism. The third was all local branches come together for the March on Washington.[6] Other than the March on Washington local offices had autonomy.

The institutionalization of the MOWM causes the NAACP to worry that they could lose membership and funding. The NAACP denounced the MOWM as being exclusionary to whites. Turning the NAACP into an enemy caused the most problems with the Washington local branch. The NAACP did everything to discourage membership. The DC local was found to have no members in a 1943 audit. [6]The lack of membership was partly due to poor management, but denouncement by the local NAACP did not help the matter. [6] If there is no support in the city in which the protest takes place, there is no reason to think a protest can happen.

The Left criticized the MOWM first. The Left felt the executive order did not go far enough because there was no penalty for non-compliance. The second issue was a fear that Randolph was working to gain a foot into the Democratic Party on the backs of his people. Blacks would then have total loyalty to the Democratic Party. People do not bait hooks for caught fish. From the extreme Left the criticism was Randolph was not attempting to overthrow an inherently racist system, he was just trying to get black people included in the system at a deeper level.

On the right, there was the charge that a mass demonstration is too risky. The summer of 1943 birthed two race riots in Detroit and New York. Both ended with dozens of blacks killed or injured. The Ohio newspaper,Cleveland Call, urged Randolph to concentrate on local protest at factories. The paper cited numerous instances of local protest working without the risk or cost of a national demonstration. [7]

Randolph wanted the march to be all black to reduce the likelihood of infiltration by saboteurs and to promote black pride. Having an all black march would combat the inferiority complex in blacks. [6] If blacks cannot do anything on their own they will never have the confidence to compete in America. Having the MOWM funded totally by blacks allowed for total control of the movement. Randolph reiterates an old saying “there is no instance of people… winning freedom who did not have to pay for it in treasure, blood, and tears, and since who pays the fiddler calls the time.” [6]

Ultimately, a movement can’t be funded by people with no money. Funding from the NAACP dries up when the MOWM is thought to be working for a permanent organization. In 1942, Randolph admitted to a lieutenant that the movement does not have a dime. [6] In 1943, Randolph asks the Executive Committee for personal loans to keep the movement afloat. [6] The organization holds itself together until 1947 with no paid staff members.

The first organization dedicated to nonviolent direct action was The March on Washington Movement. The NAACP focused on winning cases; the National Urban League groomed politicians, the MOWM got people in the streets across the nation to protest. The MOWM successfully picketed an arms manufacturer in St. Louis along with other local victories. The blueprint will be taken up in the 1960’s by Randolph protege Dr. Martin Luther King.

As stated earlier, Executive Order 8802 did not desegregate the military. Truman will have to implement Executive Order 9981 in 1948 and Secretary McNamara issuing Defense Directive 5120.36 in 1963. However, it was a crucial first step. After EO 8802 the number of black civil servants triple and the number of blacks in the defense industry went from 8.4% to 12.5%. [6] Desegregation would never happen overnight. It took many people of all races working together in many different manners. The MOWM created a template for non-violence that will be used for the entire Civil Rights Movement.

One can not be sure why Randolph left his earlier pragmatism behind. It is reasonable to assume he was terrified of communist infiltration. It is also sensible to think he needed an all-black movement to be successful to salve his ego. It’s hard for a person to share a victory with people he does not trust. I assume there were some shadow elements within Randolph that caused some self-sabotage. Randolph also lacked a lieutenant in the MOWM effort. Milton Webster was a pragmatic Vice-President of The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Randolph had a few female secretaries, but due to money issues, none stayed long enough to influence the movement. History will never understand Randolph’s lapse in judgment.

Sources
1. Rising From the Rails by Larry Tye
2. “The Negro March On Washington Movement in the World War II Period” https://theanarchistlibrary.org
3. “Race and FDR’s New Deal” http://www.shmoop.com
4. Thomas Baker Interview with A. Philip Randolph October 29,1968
5. New York Amsterdam News August 7, 1943
6.“It’s A New Kind of Militancy” by David Lucander
7. Cleveland Call Sept 12, 1942
8. “Harry Truman and the Desegregation of the Military” by Joy A. Reid http://www.thegrio.com

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Basic Philosophy of Asa Philip Randolph

Lynching

In 1917, Randolph and his business partner, Chandler Owen, wrote a treatise called The Truth About Lynchings. Lynchings was a way to punish people or entire groups without a trial. Lynchings were very common in the South, and the victims were mostly black.

Randolph and Owen created the treatise to combat the myth that black men having sex with white women cause lynchings. Often interracial relationships ended with an accusation of rape. The whites of the town would rally and kill the offending black man.

To prove the cause of lynchings is not racial, Randolph and Owen show the stats for victims of lynching. Around 35% of victims of lynching were white, and only 34% followed a rape charge. There were black men lynched for dressing well, standing up to whites that disrespected them and attempting to vote. Often black men were just randomly killed. Even when a black man was accused of rape, he did not even know his white accuser. The cause of lynching is much deeper than race.

The writers contend all the victims were extremely poor and often exploited for labor. Most times blacks moved into an area and provided incredibly cheap labor. The skilled labor, generally white, would then need to run these people out of town or kill them. A mob would form to kill one man in hopes the rest would leave out of fear. If that did not work, an attack on the entire black population would follow. That was the story of lynchings in the North.

In the South, lynching provided cause for a constant state of fear in the black community. The state of fear impeded organizing and protesting for equal pay. The fear keeps the old exploitative Capitalist system alive, and the South stayed one step away from slavery.

The capitalists perpetuate racial fears and cause lynchings. The wealthy control the newspapers and can create whatever narrative they want. The public believes the narrative, and the skilled workers are pitted against non-skilled workers. Both have their attention diverted from the real cause of suffering.

Ultimately, exploitative Capitalism led to lynching. Instating socialism can correct the problem. The first order of business was to have all trade unions integrated. Blacks also have to begin to support trade unionism. It is insane to be against trade unionism because most black people are in the working class. In spite of the discrimination in the Union, the fundamental principles of Unionism are sound.

International Affairs

Randolph wrote a treatise on how the United States should handle World War I in 1917 with fellow socialist Chandler Owen. The duo was instrumental in the formulation of socialist thought in the black community. For the reader to fully understand the essay a summary of World War I is needed.

World War I started in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne. A terrorist organization known as the Black Hand carried out the assassination, and the group had connections to Serbia. Serbia had recently gained full independence from the Ottoman Empire with the help of Russia. The Serbians wanted to liberate various Slavic countries from Austria – Hungary.

Austria – Hungary declared war on Serbia to avenge the killing of the heir. Serbia had a mutual protection pact with Russia. An alliance between France, Russia, and England had existed for decades. The entry of Germany on the side of Austria – Hungary culminated in “The war to end all wars.”

At the beginning of 1917, the United States was not yet in the war. A telegram from Germany was intercepted by the British. The telegram offered Mexico aid if Mexico declared war on the United States to reclaim land lost during the Mexican-American War. The telegram is now known as the Zimmerman Telegram. Public opinion swayed from isolationism to interventionism upon publication of the Zimmerman Telegram. The USA declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

Even though America was justified in entering the war, there were many issues getting soldiers half-way across the world. America could not reinforce European Allied force at speed to move the front line. 1917 was a year of stalemate. America was dumping tons of resources in a war with no end in sight. The government instituted the draft. America will solve all these logistic issues and by 1918 ten thousand new soldiers will be sent to France a day. The Allies will begin to push the Axis Powers back, and the war will end in the summer of 1918.

The stress of the war was not only taking a toll on America. Russia was also near starvation by 1917. The harsh living conditions for the average Russian resulted in a revolution to overthrow the Czar. The new government was the first Socialist government in the world. The new Russian government scales back on the war effort. A treaty between German and Russian will be signed in March of 1918.

Randolph and Owen’s joint treatise Terms of Peace and the Darker Races details how to the major European powers can gain peace with each other and with the non-whites of the world. The treatise takes the position that the war was not intended to avenge the death of Ferdinand. The war was to halt German progress in acquiring new territory in Africa and the Pacific. At the beginning of the war, Germany had colonies in East Africa, West Africa, Northern part of Papua New Guinea, and various islands in the Pacific. The German colonial growth threatened French and German power in Africa and beyond.

The second cause of the war was a surplus of military goods that was going idol. Capitalists run Europe and want to ensure resources go to use and generate profit. However, once the excess of military assets has been exhausted the European powers will end the war because there is not profit motive. The following paragraph is a good summary.

“ After the goods produced shall have been used. There is no gain in having the war continue, but on the contrary, the war’s continuance would be a substantial debt upon capitalist. The capitalist…sell immense amount of goods. When the war ends, the government owes them huge debts. It is necessary for the soldiers to become laborers now to pay this debt. Hence the object of peace is profit – gain- just as the object of war is.” p.2

To illustrate his idea the capital gain is the real reason for prolonging the war he shows how differently the new socialist government in Russia and the capitalist government are handling the issue of peace. The Russians have made their terms for peace well known. Britain and France engage in dark diplomacy, working on terms with Austria -Hungary, and Germany in secret. He concludes that Britain and France want continuance because they still see that the venture is profitable

The profit to be made is not only on the sale of arms and supplies, but the reclaiming of colonial lands recently lost to Germany. The new colonial lands have numerous untapped resources. Further development in Europe is no longer possible due to overuse of land. The new colonial lands are vital for further growth. The allies hope to weaken Germany and take the land back.

The European power’s main relationship to the colonial land is for exploitation. The people of the land are seen as a vehicle to be used to cultivate the ground. They are not independent/agentic beings. The following quotes are a summary of this aspect of the philosophy.

“To prevent such a fight, one of three things may be done: You may eliminate the fighters, you may remove the thing they fight about, or change the attitude on what they are fighting about.” p.8

“Herein lies the real bone of contention of the world war – darker peoples for cheap labor and darker people for rich lands” p 13

“Before getting into the terms of peace for the darker nations, we wish to observe that incidentally are the darker people’s exploited. It is not because of their color per se, but because colored peoples happen to assume such a low place in the scale of civilization just now as to make such exploitation attractive easy and possible.” p 15

Because you can not eliminate the European nations or the colonial lands, the attitude toward colonial lands must change. That is why the European must acknowledge the colonial’s independence an aid in the march toward self-sufficiency. Global peace and stability will be needed to facilitate this new paradigm.

The creation of a Permanent International Peace Commission will be necessary. The commission will judge international breaches of justice. The ability address grievances in a court setting will make the need for war obsolete. As part of the commission, there will be an International Council on the Condition of Darker Races. This council will ensure profit sharing between the workers and capitalist, proper education for natives, and eventual independence for the native people.

Randolph believes the desire for peace will be the ultimate motivator to accomplish this goal. World War I was so bloody on such a large scale that no one will want to endure any war ever again. If everyone wants peace, then full independence for the colonies is necessary. He extends the desired autonomy to Alsace, Lorraine, and Poland which were controlled by various European nations at that time.

Immigration

Like many other Black Empowerment Thinkers, Randolph was a restrictionist.[D] Restrictionist means a person believes jobs or government benefits should first go to United States citizens. His reasoning is complex.

1. Black immigrants rarely applied for citizenship in the early 1900’s
2. White immigrants worked to bring racist laws into the North to shut down black competition for work. Immigrants from nations that were hostile to the USA displaced black veterans in the job market.

His restrictionist stance came from the general labor dynamic of the early 1900’s. The labor unions shut out blacks. Then the union would monopolize the labor market. When the union would strike, blacks would fill the jobs left behind by the strikers. So blacks were often opposed to immigration and the unions. The racism of the labor unions led to most blacks voting Republican and most immigrants voting Democrat. The following was a quote from Randolph in 1924.

“ Instead of reducing immigration to 2% of the 1890 quota, we favor reducing it to nothing… We favor shutting out the Germans from Germany, Italians from Italy, and the Hindus from India. Negro’s from the West Indies. The country is suffering from immigrant indigestion.”[D]

It is important to note that Randolph took no stance on immigration bills after the BSCP joined the AFL. Specifically, he did not comment on the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952 or the Hart-Cellar Act in 1965.[D]

Worker relations

In a 1919 editorial in his periodical “The Messenger” he detailed his Socialist policy in an article entitled “Our Reason for Being.” Randolph explains how the interest of black and white workers are the same. Specifically, their interests are better wages, shorter hours, and better working conditions. If unions discriminate against blacks, the capitalist will have a bank of workers to use when the union workers strike. The larger the union, the more power it will have. Therefore integrating unions is only logical. He cites the Industrial Workers of the World, which was the largest union and the most powerful integrated union in the 1910’s.

Allowing Blacks in Unions will also stop the spread of communism among black people. Black radicalism was starting to spread in blacks frustrated with the slow pace of racial justice. If black people were financially stable faith would be restored in the government and society. The newfound faith in America would lead to more stability.

Proactive Politics

Randolph gave the opening speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In the speech, he details how all Americans need to have full employment. Randolph hoped the march would lead to a jobs bill that would reduce national unemployment. Fair hiring practices must accompany the new jobs. He details one of the main hindrances to fair hiring practices is the need for social peace. Opponents will always claim that change will upset current workers and customers and cause a problem. Randolph expresses the need not to be afraid of conflict for the sake of advancement. Randolph demands that federal funding be contingent on compliance was the method of enforcing the new employment laws.

Randolph also makes clear that the march is just the beginning. He calls for listeners to take a pledge to take the call to resistance back home.

“ When we leave, it will be to carry on the civil rights revolution home with us into every nook and cranny of the land, and we shall return again and again to Washington in ever growing numbers until total freedom is ours” [F]

Legacy

Thomas Baker interview Randolph in 1968 on his life and legacy. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library kept the interview. The interview recounts his dealings with presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson

The first President that Randolph interacted with was F. D. Roosevelt. Randolph had scheduled the 1941 March on Washington to protest segregation in the armed forces and munitions manufacturing. World War II was underway in Europe. The United States would enter the war in December 1941 after Pearl Harbor. The US was supplying the allied war effort. Therefore munitions factories were opening all over the country. Blacks were applying and were not given jobs in munitions factories. For a group of people kept systematically poor, not being allowed in a growing industry was a real problem.

An even larger problem was segregation in the military. There was the moral issue of fighting discrimination overseas when blacks at home suffered and the practical issue of the glass ceiling for promotions for blacks. A black soldier could be in charge of a black division but nothing else. That made the dream of becoming a general unobtainable. All black people in the armed forces had feelings of resentment.

Mrs. Roosevelt was the first to reach out to Randolph to see if they could avoid having the march. The President did not want racial strife to divide the nation when any day the US could be called to help the Allies in Europe. Mrs. Roosevelt asked why had Randolph not come to the President first. After talking, Mrs. Roosevelt set up a meeting between FDR and Randolph.

F.D. Roosevelt explained that he was soon to execute Executive Order 8802 forcing the National Defense Industry to desegregate. Initially, the Executive Order only applied to government contractors. Randolph demanded the addition of federl government work. Roosevelt agreed if Randolph called off the march. Two days before the march, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 and it included the federal government.

Executive Order 8802 did not contain the military. Randolph and other Civil Rights leaders went to work on a national campaign to end segregation in the military. Truman agreed to meet with Randolph in either 1947 or 1948, Randolph could not remember. In the meeting, Randolph explains black were preparing to become insubordinate if the military did not desegregate. Truman did not realize the situation was that serious. Truman got to work and issued Executive Order 9981 desegregating the military.

Randolph says Eisenhower did the least of all the presidents he worked with for the cause of Civil Rights. Eisenhower was sympathetic to the black cause, but would not take public stands. Randolph did commend Eisenhower for protecting the Little Rock 9, but he could have done much more.

Randolph recounts the story of the 1963 March on Washington. Senators Javits and Douglass organized a meeting between Kennedy, Johnson, various congressmen, and Civil Rights leaders. The biggest concern was keeping the march peaceful. There had never been a demonstration of that size before. If the protest turned violent, it would be difficult to contain. The Civil Rights leaders reassured everyone they could keep control.

Johnson is the best president for Civil Rights according to Randolph. He makes sure to say that list includes Lincoln. Randolph lists Johnson’s accomplishments: Civil Rights Act of 1964, 1965, Voting Rights Act of 1967 and the Open House Occupancy Act of 1968. President Johnson is the first man that won the Presidency that received Randolph’s vote. Randolph spent most of his life as part of the Socialist Party, and Johnson was the first mainstream candidate that had his support. Randolph is confident that President Johnson would soon end the Vietnam War.

Baker asks Randolph if Dr. King and President Johnson had any animosity. Randolph says that Johnson and Dr. King had a good relationship. There was no animosity between King and Johnson.

Randolph considers himself and fellow Civil Rights activists Roy Wilkins and Andrew Young the voice of most of Black America. He grouped Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois together as Capitalist thinkers.He considered Marcus Garvey the voice of more radical separatist. He says Garvey’s Back to Africa movement will not work for the following reasons.

1. Most blacks don’t want to go back to Africa
2. Blacks don’t have enough resources to collective move back to Africa
3. Even if blacks move back to Africa, Imperialist control all the resources.

Ultimately, the Back to Africa movement was not realistic.

Sources:
Books
1. Banks, W. M. 1996, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life, New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
2. Randolph, A.P 1917 and Owen, Chandler, Terms of Peace and the Darker Race, Poole Press Association (E-book version on Google Play)
Internet
A. Pfeffer, Paula F. (2000). “Randolph; Asa Philip” American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press.
B. “A look at Malcolm X as a mirror for America” New York Times 12-16-1992
Asa Philip Randolph biography on http://www.aflcio.org
C. Scott, Daryl (1999) “ Immigrant Indigestion” Center for Immigration Studies
D. Randolph, A.P. “Our Reason for Being” transcript on http://www.historymatters.gmu.edu
E. Transcript of Randolph’s 1963 March on Washington Speech found on http://www.jacksonville.com

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The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Asa Philip Randolph demonstrates to black leaders how to build coalitions. Randolph was also realistic about the limitations of his organization. The realization of his limitations led him to seek strategic alliances. While in these alliances he was able to keep control of his union and stay focused on his goal.

Randolph also understood that some organizations could derail his union. If he were to ally with a group that was too radical he would not only hinder the Brotherhood, he would also put many porters in danger. Randolph sought alliances with other mainstream organizations.

As most of the readers already know, Asa Philip Randolph organized The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and obtained a charter from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). He was successful in his efforts because he made strategic alliances to increase his power. An evaluation of the porter’s previous attempts to unionize will be used to demonstrate how “going it alone” is not realistic.

The first attempt to create a porter’s union was in 1890 with the Charles Sumner Association. Charles Sumner was a Senator that fought for Civil Rights. The Pullman Company threatened to fire all the porter’s and hire white replacements. The 1890 strike never happened. The second strike threat occurred in 1897, and again the company threatened to hire white replacements to stop the strike. The closest any porter got to making an appeal for higher wages was getting an editorial in a local newspaper in 1901.

The porter’s primary barrier to successful organizing was a lack of money. In the 1920’s a porter made $1,200 a year. The poverty line in the 1920’s was $1,500 a year. So most porters did not have money for savings or union dues. In addition to only making $1,200, tips composed twenty percent of the salary. As anyone that has worked for tips knows, tips fluctuate, leaving the porter in an even more precarious position.

Not having sufficient income made porter’s even more dependent on the Pullman Company. The company had a porter rule book with two hundred and seventeen rules. When that many rules are in place, every worker made numerous transgression every shift. Pullman had grounds to fire a porter at any time. In addition to not having income or job security, a porter would have a difficult time finding new employment. Pullman specifically recruited dark-skinned black people for the porter job. The job market discriminated against dark-skinned people. The loss of a porter job could be a setback that a black man would never recover.

In 1925, Randolph was selected to run the Brotherhood of Pullman Porters. His job is to finally give the porters a much-needed raise and change the rules to allow for porters to stand up to abuse. Randolph faces many of the same problems previous organizers will face. Membership fluctuates because people can not pay their dues. Instead of simply berating members, he went out to find allies with deep pockets.

Randolph sought out donations from liberal white churches. Donations from white churches keep the Brotherhood afloat for the tumultuous early years. Many of these churches were concerned with the welfare of black people. They have established wealthy membership that kept a steady stream of money flowing to the Brotherhood.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was another organization courted by Randolph. The AFL was the largest federation of unions at the time and had deep connections with the Democratic party. Both the AFL and the Democratic party had a long history of racism. In the North, blacks were not allowed in most unions. When unions went on strike, black workers would cross the picket line and fill the empty jobs. The AFL and Democratic party often conspired to create laws and reduce funding that would help black people as a way to retaliate.

Randolph knew that the AFL was the only union organization that could give the Brotherhood validity. Affiliation with the AFL would also give Randolph inside information on various initiatives in Congress. Most importantly the AFL could supply the Brotherhood with money in the event of a strike.

The Brotherhood received AFL affiliate status in 1929. The Brotherhood would pay the AFL $0.35 per member. A full AFL membership union only pays $0.01 per member. Many critics saw this not only as a “slap in the face,” but a poor use of scarce resources. Randolph understood that the AFL membership would be a long and arduous road. If the Brotherhood could survive this probationary period, they could obtain real government influence.

The Democratic party heavily pressured the AFL to begin to incorporate black members. The AFL had a long history of segregation in its affiliate unions. At one AFL conference, the group stated its official goal was to protect the livelihoods of native-born white men. The pressure came from the Democratic party’s need to keep control of the mayorship of many major cities, which had sharp increases in their black population. Also, the Democratic party wanted to pull membership away from third parties such as Democratic Socialists and Communists. The Democratic party could reduce the threat of a third party by being more inclusive.

Randolph garnered the most criticism for his introduction of AFL president William Green in Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. He said Green was the second Abraham Lincoln coming to rescue the black worker from industrial bondage. Many critics used this overly enthusiastic introduction as proof Randolph was using the porters as inroads into the AFL. The AFL had a long history of excluding black people and had not allowed the porters to enter as full members.

The election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1932 was the jumpstart that both the Brotherhood and the AFL needed to merge. FDR instituted the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 and expanded the Railway Labor Act to include airlines. These laws set specific procedures to form a union, address grievances, and to go on strike. The introduction of a union-friendly administration increased membership in the Brotherhood of Pullman Porters. It is not a coincidence that the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters got an official charter from the AFL in 1935. Having an administration that was friendly to the cause of black liberation had substantial effects. In 1937, the Brotherhood signed a contract with the Pullman company for higher wages and improved working conditions.

Many of today’s black leaders speak of black people becoming independent. Black organizations talk about divorcing themselves from white money and white members. Historically, completely isolated organizations do not work. It would be advantageous to look at what A. Philip Randolph’s alternatives were in the fight against the Pullman Corporation.

The obvious ally would be various black organizations around at the time most notably, the black church. If all these black organizations “pooled their pennies together” they could have serious money to fight injustices. The only problem with the strategy is that all the other black organizations had similar, if not worse money problems. In fact, Pullman gave generous donations to black churches to help in the fight against the Brotherhood. The Chicago branch of the National Urban League fought against the Brotherhood because of a large Pullman donation. The National Urban League funded most of the black politicians. Therefore, many of Chicago’s black politicians were against unionization. The lack of money in the black community hurts black organizations. Most black organizations are more concerned with getting donations to stay afloat and are willing to compromise ethics to get the donations.

The Brotherhood could have enlisted wealthier members of the black community. There were some prominent members of the black community that could have provided money. However, many felt threatened by the prominence of the porter’s in the black community. The few black professionals in major cities enjoyed being the wealthiest black people in town. If the porters obtained fair wages, they could challenge their status in the community. Most black professionals were deeply invested in Orange Meme striving. They were not interested in helping others.

One could say if you were going to ally with white people at least partner with white people that were integrationist from the beginning. The biggest rival to the AFL at the time was the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). IWW was integrationist from inception in 1905. One of the founding members, Lucy Parsons, was born a slave in Texas. The IWW wanted to do away with the wage system and put workers in charge of the means of production. The IWW put itself in direct opposition to the AFL that wanted “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” If the Brotherhood joined IWW, they would have to challenge Pullmans validity in running the railroad.

The IWW radicalism also led to scrutiny by authorities. In 1906, the murder of an Idaho Governor implicated an IWW leader. Citizen accused IWW member of rioting in Butte, Montana in 1914. Migratory farmers were also a large part of the IWW membership. Unfortunately, migratory farmers were looked down upon and blamed for many unsolved crimes. Migratory farmers were called hobos in the 1920’s and viewed negatively by the general public. The activity that put the IWW the most at odds with the Federal government was its outspoken stance against World War I.

Many unionist believe the government systematically targeted the IWW to cause its downfall. Numerous high profile cases plagued the organization from the early 1910’s to 1920’s. By 1925, the organization was a shell of itself. The union will recover in 1960’s, but the 1920’s was a dark time for the IWW. Randolph understood what the IWW was going through and was smart to keep the Brotherhood away.

Eugene V. Debs, one of the founders of the IWW, was a hero of Randolph. Randolph wrote about Debs’ philosophy in college and his first years at “The Messenger.” Even though Randolph personally agreed with the philosophy of the IWW, including the IWW’s stance against war, he knew a partnership would not be practical. Randolph knew how to set his personal feelings aside for the good of the group.

Randolph’s life and work demonstrate effective leadership. It is a model that more black leaders should follow. He understood the limitations of his group and worked with organizations that would complement the Brotherhood. Once Randolph determined which organizations could be of service to him, he put aside his personal feelings a pursued the alliance. His efforts ultimately culminated in the first contract between a black union and a major corporation. Randolph’s pragmatism is something to admire.

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What Is a Pullman Porter?

The Pullman Porter had a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. His official job description was to assist the passengers on the luxurious Pullman Sleeping Car. His real job was to create the black middle class and forge countless organizations. The porter is known primarily for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which marked the first black labor union to sign a contract with a large company. In addition to all the historical accomplishments of the union, the porter provides vital insight into the black experience.

The first point of business is explaining the Pullman Company. The Pullman Company manufactured luxury train cars for overnight travel. The Pullman Company also contracted out the crew to run the car. The crew members were called Sleeping Car Porters. The founder George Pullman began the company after having to sleep in the train chair on an overnight trip to visit relatives. He started to design a car with rooms with full-size beds called berths. Pullman also elicited help from the government to create favorable laws and obtain funding. Pullman befriended the son of Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln while petitioning the government. Lincoln took over the company after the death of George Pullman. Both men were fiercely anti-union regardless of the race of the members.

In the simplest terms, a Pullman Porter is equivalent to airline stewardess with far more responsibilities. A porter would greet the passenger upon entrance to the train, carry the bags, show the passengers around the car, and cater to the various needs of the passenger. Porters acted as babysitters while parents drank, nurses when the elderly passengers were sick, and safety advisors when the tracks got rocky. The porter was always available with a smile to make sure his passenger’s trip was remarkable.

Pullman preferred to hire dark-skinned, tall, thin porter’s from the American South. They needed to be tall to reach the shelves above the berths. He needed to be thin to walk by passengers in the narrow hallway without touching. Southern to be sufficiently submissive, Northern blacks were often too rowdy. The dark-skin was especially important. Dark-skin marked the division between passenger and porter. The passenger needed to see the porter, but the passenger should never be obliged to consider the porter fully human. The porter was “other,” a servant, and he wanted the passenger to see him as such.

The passengers on Sleeping Cars were known for their rambunctiousness. The Pullman Car was one of the most expensive ways to travel at the time. The liquor flowed freely on the train, so much so, that passengers often “found themselves in strangers beds.” A Pullman trip would be equivalent to a modern day cruise.

In addition to most passengers spending a significant amount of time on the journey drunk, the white passenger treated the porter with very little respect. The most notable feature of the disrespect was referring to all porters as “George.” The name harkens back to slavery when slaves received their master’s last name. Since the owner of the company was named George, all his black workers were George by default. Termination was the penalty for not answering to George. The Pullman Manual had two hundred and seventy rules. A porter could never show and any indication that he was angry or hurt by a passenger’s comment.

Even though porters were not allowed to fraternize with the passengers, many passengers made advances on the porters. Sumner Welles was Undersecretary of State in 1940. Welles was exemplary as a diplomat and was picked to succeed the current Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Welles derailed his career by getting drunk and offering a porter money for sex. The porter told superiors, and other porters said Welles made the same advances on them. Various government officials confirmed the story and Welles was not picked to be Secretary of State. A 1977 tell-all memoir was the first utterance of this story.

Not all advances were turned down. Here is a story of a young porter and a bride whose husband had to disembark early from the train. The account comes from Larry Tye’s book Rising from the Rails.

Watching her husband ride off in a covered wagon, she struck up a conversation with [A porter] “You -you know you’re the first Nig-nigger I have ever talked to. Can I? I? – believe all- believe all my mother and father have told me about you people?” she inquired hesitatingly, with a peculiar smile. Her remarks flashed through my mind, bringing with them thing the boys had told me that white people say about niggahs, and I realized what she was suggesting. It’s sure hard to make white people believe that what they say might be true about some of us, but not about the whole race. Still, as the legend is to our advantage, I left my work for an hour, so that it shouldn’t die with me.

Not all white and black interchanges were agreeable. The porter had to find ways to protect himself that did violate company rules. Larry Tye recounts a story from The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Malcolm X worked for a few years as a Pullman Porter before turning to a life of crime and later conversion to Islam.

I remember that once, when some passengers complaints had gotten me a warning, and I wanted to be careful, I was working down the aisle and a big, beefy, red-faced cracker soldier got up in front of me, so drunk he was weaving and announced loud enough that everybody in the car heard him, “I’m going to fight you nigger.” I remember the tension, I laughed and told him, “Sure, I’ll fight, but you’ve got too many clothes on.” He had on a big Army overcoat. He took that off, and I kept laughing and said he still had on too many. I was able to keep that cracker stripping off clothes until he stood there drunk with nothing on from his pants up, and the whole car was laughing at him, and some other soldiers got him out of the way. I went on. I never would forget that – that I couldn’t have whipped that white man as badly with a club as I had with my mind.”

Relations between blacks on the train was also interesting. Because porters had to suppress their anger toward passengers they often lashed out against each other. Often porters would accuse other porters of “cooning.” Cooning is acting overly obliging to get bigger tips. A charge of cooning could come from having too big a smile for too long or the egregious dancing for customer’s amusement. Ultimately, all the porters had to compromise their pride to work for the Pullman company. An arbitrary line separates following orders and cooning. Cooning was always something the other guy did.

The other large part of the Pullman crew was the kitchen staff. To keep with plantation tradition, the kitchen workers were normally light skinned. Often porters would say waiters were soft and did not work hard. Many people will say that this is a remnant of anger from the plantation hierarchy. Light-skinned slaves, commonly descendant of the master, got “easier” jobs in the house. I think that the animosity between porters and kitchen staff was just another way to expel suppressed anger from passenger’s behavior.

Ultimately, kitchen staff and porters worked together. Kitchen staff would save scraps to make stew. Porters would keep an eye out for empty berths to allow the cooks and waiters to get a good night’s sleep. The kitchen staff could easily sneak out before the passengers awakened. In the end, both kitchen staff and porter were on the same team. If they did not work together, they would sink together.

I will detail the formation of The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in later blog posts. As of now, I will say the contract between Pullman Company and The Brotherhood will be the first time and all black union will force a major company to sign a contract. The victory catapults Brotherhood President A. Philip Randolph to national acclaim. He uses his fame to make the National Negro Congress, which is a militant alternative to the NAACP. The National Negro Congress folds due to internal conflict. He learns many leadership lessons from the organization and begins a campaign to desegregate the government and military.

To rally support, Randolph rallies crowds around the idea of a March on Washington. Originally, Randolph was going to get 10,000 people to demonstrate in Washington, DC. Once he started relaying the idea to crowds across the country people from all over the nation and of all political persuasions. Randolph officially set the date of the march on June 27, 1941.

Franklin D. Roosevelt did not want a public demonstration at this time. FDR was attempting to gain support for joining in the fight in World War II. He was also afraid that communist would cause a disturbance in the rally and put American race relations on a world stage. FDR met with Randolph to come to a compromise that would allow for Randolph to call off the march. The result was Executive Order 8802 which desegregated the defense industry government and contractor. Two days before the March on Washington 1941 was to happen it was called off.

Randolph does not just fold up shop and go home. He expands the March on Washington Movement. He builds a March on Washington headquarters in all major American cities. The March on Washington protest take place all over the country for twenty years, and it causes change at the local level. On the national level, the March on Washington Movement forced Truman to sign Executive Order 9981, finally desegregating the military. The last March on Washington was in 1963. Dr. King’s gives his “I Have A Dream” speech at this rally.

Dr. King owes much of his career to Randolph and Ed Nixon. Ed Nixon was President of the Montgomery Branch of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Because Nixon was running the Brotherhood and various Montgomery political organization, Ed Nixon recommends Dr. King to run the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott lasts for over a year. Dr. King proves to Nixon he has potential and Nixon introduces him to Randolph. Randolph and his team gave Dr. King the tutelage he needed to lead the movement.

In addition to providing an organizational template and leaders, the Brotherhood provided funding for various organizations in the Civil Rights Movement. Randolph’s motto was, “ Whoever pays the piper calls the tune.” For a black organization to be truly independent, it had to be funded by black people. Malcolm X echoes the same sentiment in later years. Randolph would often invite Malcolm to his personal residence to tell him stories of the Harlem’s socialist movement and talk about politics. A. Philip Randolph and other black leaders including Elijah Muhammad started blacks down the road to self-determination.

The Pullman Porter has a dubious legacy in the minds of Black America. On the one hand, they had a servile role and had to take abuse without fighting back directly. On the other hand, they laid the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. I feel the Pullman Porter is the ultimate symbol of the black middle class. Often we work in jobs in which we are under-utilized and treated with disrespect. Not to the same extent as the porter, but disrespect nonetheless. We do that to support the aspirations of our family and those that want to fight white supremacy directly. The fight against white supremacy takes many forms. Blacks have to utilize many methods to fight it. The porter was one of the most cunning soldiers in this battle.

The information for this blog post comes from Larry Tye’s book Rising From The Rails

For more information on the Pullman Porters please vist the official museum. HERE

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Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise Series

Photo above was taken in November 1864 in Dutch Gap Canal, VA

Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise

Critique of Rhetoric and Compromise

Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise

Buy the book HERE

Critique of Rhetoric and Compromise

Buy the book HERE

Sources

Knights of the Golden Circle / Southern Filibusters

Alexandria VA’s Knights of the Golden Circle https://blogs.weta.org/boundarystones/2016/01/15/civil-war-alexandrias-knights-golden-circle

History of Filibusters https://history.state.gov/milestones/1830-1860/territorial-expansion

William Walker American Filibusters https://hondurastravel.com/honduras-history/william-walker-american-filibuster-central-america/

William Walker King of the Filibusters http://www.historynet.com/william-walker-king-of-the-19th-century-filibusters.htm

Lincoln Fought the Spread of Slavery to Latin America https://www.purdue.edu/uns/x/2009a/090112T-MayLincoln.html

Civil War Times Article http://www.historynet.com/avowed-enemies-country-knights-golden-circle.htm

Knights of the Golden Circle Book Summary https://lsupress.org/books/detail/knights-of-the-golden-circle/

John Bell

Constitutional Unionist Party https://www.nps.gov/arho/upload/Constitutional-Union.pdf

Short Bio http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=b000340

Speech in Philadelphia https://www.nytimes.com/1860/05/14/archives/political-presidential-speech-of-hon-john-bell-at-philadelphia.html

Stephen Douglas

Short Biography http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=d000457

Biography https://www.nps.gov/people/stephen-a-douglas.htm

Biography http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Stephen_Douglas

Northern Democratic Party http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Northern_Democratic_Party

John Breckinridge

Breckinridge speech 1860 https://www.nytimes.com/1860/09/06/archives/the-presidency-speech-of-hon-john-c-breckinridge-at-lexingtion-ky.html

Breckinridge Democratic Platform http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=3951

Breckinridge Biography https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/VP_John_Breckinridge.htm

The Man Who Came in Second https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2011/novemberdecember/feature/the-man-who-came-in-second

General

Election of 1860 https://www.tulane.edu/~sumter/Background/BackgroundElection.html

Election of 1860 https://www.nps.gov/subjects/inauguration/election-of-1860.htm

Election 1860 https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/election-of-1860

Slavery poll modern day http://time.com/4236640/donald-trump-racist-supporters/

Video

Dr. Blight Civil War Lecture Playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5DD220D6A1282057

Pre-Civil War Videos https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOoBosrupqYveqlE8c5qsodZC2Oc0oSvK

My Story of Nigrescence: Internalization

So I did not feel that there was anywhere I could go to feel accepted. Either I could join integrated groups and become raceless or black groups that would force me to be pro-black/anti-white. The feeling that I had nowhere to go forced me to try to create my own safe space. That is what led me to create this website Black Leadership Analysis.

I wanted to evaluate the thoughts of black people using Spiral Dynamics. I often would read blogs and articles on Spiral Dynamics that mention black people. Most of the time black people were classified as Red/Blue and whites were classified as Orange/Green. Of course, all statements would be qualified by there are black and white people in all memes, but ultimately black people were discussed as at a lower state of development. The dynamic of blacks being in a less complex state was also very prevalent in The Crucible.

The idea that black people are at a lower level of development has been prevalent in science from the very beginning. Dr. Cross explained the origins of this idea in psychology. Now I do not think the founders of Spiral Dynamics intentionally continued the tradition. However, I think science’s inability to confront its racist history has allowed the idea of black inferiority to exist.

Now I do not believe that it is impossible for black people or white people to be generally at different levels of development. However, to make the assertion one must look deeply into Black America. Not just a few hundred test subjects. The great thinkers have to be evaluated. It is possible that higher order thinking appears in a different manner. Once one explores the possibility that the intersection of ethnicity and ego development makes the memes appear differently, one can then assess if black people are generally at a lower level of development.

One of many barriers in Spiral Dynamics is the idea that anyone that talks about ethnicity is Red Meme. It is believed that once a person moves up the Spiral they naturally let go of ethnicity. The goal will be creating a raceless intellectual. If this is the final goal, the Spiral Dynamic community should expect limited influence.

I also felt Spiral Dynamics could be beneficial to the Black community. Often it is difficult for us to have political or philosophical dialogue without immediately moving to ad hominem attacks such as: “you’re brainwashed” you’re a hotep”, “you hate yourself.” The lack of dialogue prevents black people from developing an informed social philosophy to help us navigate an often hostile world.

Now there is quality political discussion within the Black academia. However, there needs to be a method to bring these strategies to the mass of people. If normal people don’t have a way to dialogue, there will be unnecessary division and stagnation. For a group of people already disadvantaged, not being able to dialogue will be detrimental.

I began with the website by randomly picking leaders. The first one I did was Brother Polight. I found him to be pretty impressive from the few YouTube videos I watched. I watched all the videos on his YouTube channel looking for common themes. Once the common themes were determined. I would judge what meme is central to the person’s thinking.

Facebook is the best place to share these articles. However, I realized every Facebook group on Spiral Dynamics was not down to talk about race. So I created my own group Black Leadership Analysis. I wanted it to have it be a place were Integralist and Black people can talk about race. The focus would be on black thinkers. I went through and recruited people I felt to be influential in Spiral Dynamics. It was disheartening to find so few black people in the Integral Facebook Groups. However, all the black people I saw got a personal invitation.

So my Facebook Group has always allowed all ethnicities to be part of the discussion. However, the discussion focuses on black issues and the thoughts of black leaders. Many black members have criticized discussing black issues in front of whites. They mainly think we should “air dirty laundry” to outsiders. My rebuttal is black issues are always in the public sphere. It is better to provide outsiders the opportunity to hear black people to discuss issues candidly to give them perspective.

I also had one person that was white that believed race discussion could only be Red Meme. He was also a big Sam Harris fan. He took one of my posts down in an Integral FB group. So I decided to recruit him for Black Leadership Analysis. I thought it would be good to have someone against the idea in the group to see how my ideas would play in front of the most conservative Integralist.

So the white guy from the other Facebook Group, let’s call him Bill, claims not to see race. However, the first post that he tries to post is of Sam Harris blaming police brutality of black people’s gangster culture. The idea of the video was that Black people idolize gangsters and criminality. Exalting criminals leads to violence and more interactions with the police. Increased police interactions then lead to instances were police use brutal force. I found this an odd video for a person that does not see race to post. I allowed the post because I wanted to critique the video.

My rebuttal along with most people in the group was black people can’t be simplified into a monolith. Also, white people control the “culture” that he has easy access to through television and radio. Ultimately, only a person that has deep-seated anti-black beliefs would even find the video valid. Bill did not change his position, but he understood our perspective. Ultimately, it was a constructive conversation.

Bill symbolized to me the problem with merely dismissing those that speak on race and asserting that black people are at a lower stage of development compared to white people. Because one is living in a culture that dismisses outsiders as savage one will be predisposed to anti-black views. The only way to re-evaluate these views is to study the other sub-culture thoroughly. Until a sub-culture is carefully examined, one can not make any declarations. The study should go beyond test subjects and include the great thinkers.

Ultimately, I want to build a genuinely multi-cultural Integral community. I understand it will take more than one blog to accomplish this. However, I think the discussions we have will help to improve the Integral and the Black community. The world is at a turning point right now, and if the proper dialogue is not established the world could turn to fascism.

My Story of Nigrescence: Emersion Immersion

The People of Color Sangha
Most of my life I have never felt included in black spaces. As a child and as an adult I felt singled out as not black enough.

At the beginning of 2016, I decided to work on my ability to build relationships, especially with those within my race. I had always been perceived as an outsider or someone not aware of blackness. I had also had a horrible experience in Concerned Black Men (CBM). After the CBM experience, I had no real interest in joining a specifically black organization.

I had known about the People of Color Sangha for three years before I went the first time. I just figured I would meet a ton of extremely judgmental people that would judge by expression of blackness negatively. I had been part of another Western Buddhist Sangha for many years. After a while, my relationships in the Western Buddhist Sangha became strained because of racial misunderstandings. Ultimately, I needed a new group.

I went the first time, and I was very nervous about going and being rejected. That was usually how things went for me in black organizations and groups. So I sat quietly and just said hi to a few people.

Then a Dharma (Truth) sharing started. For those that are not Buddhist the Dharma sharing is when the members of the Sangha talk about their personal experience on a subject. I can’t remember what the theme was that night. For some reason, I decided to share my experience at CBM in which the other members made a lynching joke after they found out I was dating a white girl. I expected to get ridiculed, but as it turns out people were receptive and sympathetic. After that, I felt more comfortable.

I have been going to the People of Color Sangha for two years now. It is my favorite Buddhist group in the city. My experience with the People of Color Sangha is also the first time I have felt genuinely respected in a group of black people. I express myself reasonably freely and am developing some pretty strong honest friendships.

Ambedkarite Buddhism

One of the problems I see in Western Buddhism is its lack of focus on social justice. All religions use some spiritual bypass when talking about ethnicity. I
I do not think Buddhism does a worse job than other religions. I just felt the infrastructure in Buddhism can deal with race in a more robust way. Just like with all other personal issues I had used Buddhism to help me through, race can become something that no longer gives me anxiety, and at the same time, I would not have to ignore. With Buddhism, I could see race as it was.

Of course, I had found black Buddhist teachers. These teachers used blackness to inform Buddhism and Buddhism to inform their blackness. The best example of this is Lama Rod Owens. He is originally from Georgia and is steeped in the black church. He converted to Buddhism in adulthood and had many of the same problems with racelessness in the Buddhist community. He had not turned bitter though. Instead, he studied the works deeply to understand where he and his community fit in the religion.

Lama Rod along with other teachers showed me how to become authentically black and Buddhist. However, I still wondered if we were projecting solutions onto the religion or is social justice inherent in the faith. Another aspect I felt necessary in adopting a religion from another community is staying true to its origins. I wanted to know that social justice was always a part of the Buddhist expression historically and in Asia.

Buddhism is an Asian religion because it started there. Many Western Buddhist try to play down the importance and centrality of Asia in Buddhism. Some do it because they want the religion to be inclusive and egalitarian. Others want to whitewash the religion. Still, others have done a spiritual bypass of ethnicity and couldn’t deal with it.

In my mind, I have to find a cultural and historical case to include Buddhism in my understanding of social justice. Luckily, I discovered Bhimrao Ambedkar from a Facebook post. I found out that he was a political reformer from the lowest Indian caste. I have written extensively about him on this blog as a result of my deep admiration for him.

However, I feel it is essential not only to know the history from an intellectual standpoint but know understand the community produced by the religion. I went online to google Ambedkar organizations in America and discovered the Ambedkar Association of North America. I found out they had weekly online meetings and began attending them. From there I found out about tons of Ambedkarite organizations in the USA. I have gone to many events and felt welcomed. Many are interested in my story and connecting the struggle of Dalits and African-Americans.

Conclusion

Ultimately, I consider myself connected to the social justice struggle. So my Immersion stage looks different than what originally was purposed by Dr. Cross. However, I do think I have delved into my culture more lately than any other time in my life. I hope these experiences will help me to show up in the world in a more loving manner.

My Story of Nigrescence: Encounter Part 2

This blog will be one of the most difficult ones that I have written. One of the things I am most embarrassed by in my life is my difficulty to make connections to other black people. Even though this will be difficult and many people will be offended, I think it is necessary to have these discussions to move our people forward.

So growing up I was always labeled as the black kid that wants to be white. Now I never saw myself that way. I was trying to be well behaved and productive in society. Even though I could not articulate what I felt at a young age, I saw many examples of general dysfunction in the community. I did not want to perpetuate behaviors that would be detrimental in my life as I had seen it be harmful in the lives of others.

One thing that is unique to black Americans is that our identity is so wrapped up in our oppression and the damage resulting from it. If you are Mexican and educated, you can copy or act like a Mexican professor. If you are a rich Italian, you can pretend to be a De Medici. That is not to say that there aren’t smart or rich black people. It is just in America smart or rich makes you more a part of mainstream society. America views people like Magic Johnson and Reginald Lewis as more than black or part of American society in general.

Blackness is traditionally defined as outside of American culture. Historically, legal protection did not include black people, so we understood ourselves as outsiders in our land. Many black people were trying to come up or improve their standing in life had to separate from their community. Often they would aid in oppression for their own benefit. So historically black people have every reason to question overly ambitious black people or black people that appear to want to assimilate with the greater society.

If I had one wish, it would be that our community spends time learning how to work with all the identities we can now access. We were a people defined by having no or very little agency. We were thrust into a society without really having time to redefine ourselves outside of oppression. We never established what a culturally aware black academic looks like or a culturally aware black businessman. I think the young generation has to deal with these issues less. However, there are many people in my age that feel ostracized by their people for trying to be productive.

I feel an immense amount of guilt about resenting other black people. I have spoken to a few people about my resentment. Usually, I am told I am trivial, and I should grow up. These issues you had with black people only happen when you were a child. In reality, adults also have a problem with how other black people perceive them. I am not the only person to feel this way.

After I started my blog, someone posted an article on my associated Facebook page about a white comedian using nigga in a joke. The comedian is known to be liberal, one member, let’s call her Sue, said that we should forgive him. My reply was that black people shouldn’t protest or anything. Just stop watching his comedy show or going on as a guest. Our replies were getting long, so we continued them over e-mail.

So once the e-mail conversation kept going over for a while. Finally, I said this to end the debate. I told Sue we were talking about to different things. She wanted to facilitate racial reconciliation through forgiving the comedian. I tried to protect black people by just not interacting with the comedian again. Both of us wish the best for black people. We have different ways of getting there. She told me she started crying. It was the first time she disagreed with another black person on a racial issue, and the conversation ended without her being called a “coon” or “aunt sally.”

I have many stories like this from my Facebook and WordPress site. Black people are coming forward that never felt comfortable expressing their feelings on race to other black people. I think proper and constructive political dialogue is necessary if we want to move up as a community. We will need conservative, liberal, and radical plans to move forward. Also, attempts to shame people out of their beliefs makes them double down. It creates two opposing camps in the black community. A divided house is that much easier to control.

Unless black people can unite and build their community, the greater society will stigmatize us. Even groups committed to inclusion see inclusion as a way whites can help blacks. Once black people have a more stable community, diversity will be seen as something that will be beneficial to all people.

Also, black people will have a difficult time finding intimacy with people outside their ethnicity. Whether a person likes it or not your ethnicity is a huge part of your lived experience. Even if you don’t realize it, the lived experience of your community now and in the past shapes the world around you more than your actions or ability. How many black women are single even though they are attractive and educated? Many, because so many black men are systematically put in jail. How many black children go to college and feel alone? Many, because the educational system was set up against us a long time ago. A person really can’t understand their situation without understanding ethnicity. You also can’t understand someone without understanding their ethnicity. We are not independent actors acting in a rational world.

The study of Ethnic Identity Development will facilitate black people working with all their identities and dealing with the personalities of other black people. There is no one correct way to be black anymore. We must allow people to express themselves authentically. We also must let people to have room to change. In the end, black people only have each other, and there will not be many alliances until blacks work together.

My Story of Nigrescence: Encounter Part 1

I have recently discovered the psychological theory of Nigrescence. The theory gives a natural progression of how individuals grow to embrace their ethnicity. It also details many pitfalls one can fall in while discovering who they are.

There are five stages in the theory of Nigrescence.

  1. Pre-encounter: A time early in life when one does not use their ethnicity to create a worldview. It can also be used to describe people that purposefully neglect how their ethnicity shapes their worldview.
  2. Encounter: An event or series of events that create psychological discomfort that leads one to modify worldview
  3. Emersion: Individual rebel against mainstream culture and surround themselves with the new ethnic culture
  4. Internalisation: Individual moves past rebellion and can re-enter society with ethnic consciousness. The individual will no longer separate themselves yet interact with people of all backgrounds
  5. Commitment: Individuals have an authentic commitment to their ethnic struggle. Most of their time is used building a better world

This blog post will cover the time I spent in Encounter

Encounter

I had always had a hard time making friends and building relationships. Alot of my stumbling blocks involving relationships involved suffering from depression. To cure my depression I used many methods simultaneously. I began meditating which led to learning Buddhism. In addition, I began to study psychology which eventually led to studying Spiral Dynamics.

So the biggest problem I had in relationships was depth. I knew alot of people but I had no one I really could share intimate experiences with. I could find someone to eat dinner with or going to the movies with, but no one to call when I was really down.

One example of what the trouble I was having was my relationship with Marvin. Marvin is a Jewish guy I met at a Buddhist Temple. He was really gregarious and we always talked after service. I never thought we could really be friends. He was about twenty years older than me and about to retire. I figured we would have very little in common. However, I did find him to be interesting so I decided to do second body practice with him. For those that are not Buddhist, second body practice consist of meeting out in public and talking about how Buddhism affects out life. I usually last about an hour a week for a month and a half.

Over our sessions we got to know alot about each other. He told me alot about his job and how he was glad to retire. I told him about fighting my depression and how I was working to build relationships. I think we really provided each other good advice. Over the session we got really close. He would then invite me to different events over the years.

I was always careful never to talk about race to people that are not black. However, over the course of our talks the subject would come up. I mean my ethnicity is the a large part of my experience. Sometimes I would go into it without even realizing it. Then Marvin would comment and it would normally offend me. He would always say I was above race and should no longer thing about it. In his mind, I very well could have surpassed race. However, to the rest of the world I had not.

Well Marvin called me to hang out with him. He knew I liked dancing and decided to take me to this modern dance recital. He spent a lot of time complaining that his wife never wants to go and hang out with any of his friends. His wife was from the Phillipines and spoke broken English. It was obvious why she would feel uncomfortable hanging out with professors that Marvin was taking classes from. Yet, I sat and listened to make sure he knew I cared.

That night I did not say much. I had just started my blog Black Leadership Analysis. I was really hyped because the third article I wrote got 100 views in a day. He kept asking me what I was up to. So I finally told him about the blog.

His reaction was very telling. He goes on this long diatribe about how I shouldn’t worry about race and I should only worry about my personal advancement. He went on to say worrying about teaching black people is a waste of time. He felt generally black people were unintelligent and not much can be done about it. Needless to say I never spoke to him again.

Now I don’t believe Marvin to be malicious. I see him as a natural product of a spiritual community that bypasses race. If we don’t have a method to discuss and work through race in a constructive manner, we will get people like Marvin. Marvin did not hate people of other ethnicities, he actually made an effort to be around people that were not Jewish. Yet, his meager understanding of ethnicity kept him from having empathy and listening. It also kept him from questioning his preconceptions.

This story is not unique to my experiences in new age spiritual communities. I always censored myself to seem raceless. Not because I was ashamed of who I was, but because I knew most in the community would be insensitive. This led to me just being in their space not making the space ours. I would come, smile, nod, but never really achieve a level of intimacy. My lack of intimacy caused the discomfort that made me move to the next phase.

My Story of Nigrescence: Pre-Encouter

I have recently discovered the psychological theory of Nigrescence. The theory gives a natural progression of how individuals grow to embrace their ethnicity. It also details many pitfalls one can fall in while discovering who they are.

There are five stages in the theory of Nigrescence.

  1. Pre-encounter: A time early in life when one does not use their ethnicity to create a worldview. It can also be used to describe people that purposefully neglect how their ethnicity shapes their worldview.
  2. Encounter: An event or series of events that create psychological discomfort that leads one to modify worldview
  3. Emersion: Individual rebel against mainstream culture and surround themselves with the new ethnic culture
  4. Internalisation: Individual moves past rebellion and can re-enter society with ethnic consciousness. The individual will no longer separate themselves yet interact with people of all backgrounds
  5. Commitment: Individuals have an authentic commitment to their ethnic struggle. Most of their time is used building a better world

This blog post will cover the time I spent in Pre-encounter

Pre-Encounter

I grew up in Murfreesboro, TN. Both of my parents are college educated and knowledgeable about black history. Both made sure I read books on black history and the struggle of my people. By the end of high school, I was well versed in Black History and even won a black history trivia bowl held in high school.

Most would wonder how a young man knowledgeable about black history could not have a worldview shaped by his ethnicity. Well, I can think of a few reasons.

Striver History

The history that my parents focused on teaching me primarily focused on blacks achieving in the face of adversity. I knew the first open heart surgery was done by a black man and how Jackie Robinson integrated baseball. However, we did not talk about how systematic justice caused most black people to stay in a vulnerable condition economically and politically. If systemic injustice was brought up in a conversation, my parents would just counter with how black people can overcome any obstacle.

As an adult I understand that my parents did not want me using my race as an excuse. Many black people never try to pursue their dreams because they feel the white man will not let them succeed. Nothing will ever happen in life if one simply accepts their place in society.

The unintended consequence was not having compassion for other black people or myself when life falls short of expectations. Even if one keeps a positive attitude and work ethic circumstances can prevent reaching all goals. When this happens one must re-evaluate everything that caused the outcome to determine why they failed. If systematic injustice is a blind spot, an individual will end up on a path of self-loathing. Most black people hit a glass ceiling in their career. If this happens one needs all the tools to evaluate what needs to change if anything.

Social Climbing away from Black people

My parents were very culturally aware. They supported left-leaning politics and took me and my siblings to black history month events. My house was filled with celebration when someone black achieved a goal on a national stage. My father often commented on how proud he was of Oprah Winfrey because she comes from the South and became a media mogul.

In spite of all of my parent’s black pride, they would still go on long diatribes on how black people are their own worst enemy. I remember my parents going on long diatribes on how black people can’t seem to get anything right. Everything we do is disorganized and how we should imitate non-black minorities and white people.

To be clear, I am not blaming my parents for my worldview. My parents were simply reflecting the society they lived in and the predominate narratives on race in the 1990’s. I will say when I raise kids or if any parents ask for my advice, I would tell them to not berate or complain about their race. If you are speaking in front of your kids make sure to not simply repeat right-wing talking points. If you want to criticize some to show a child an example of what to not do is explain the issue in terms of individual problems and individual remedy. Before speaking think about if the statement you are about to say would cause a fight if said by a white person.

My parents also gauged their success by the exclusivity of their neighborhood. When I was born my family lived in the low-income part of town. The neighborhood became dangerous so he moved us to a firmly middle-class neighborhood. Again the neighborhood crime rate went up over the years and we moved. The last time we moved it was to one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in town. My parents were proud to be one of the few black people in the neighborhood.

The perception that social mobility leads to being around less black people helped to impede using my ethnicity in my worldview. To be successful, I had to be able to interact with whites or at least non-black minorities. If I wasn’t able to do this I would be alone as I was in my childhood. Moving to predominantly white neighborhoods meant I had no peers to interact. Blackness was something that separates me from those around me.

Few examples of Commitment phase

Of the people I saw in childhood and early adulthood, few were in the commitment phase of their ethnic development. Most of the people I interacted with fell into the following categories.

Real Brothas vs Squares

Those caught in constantly proving their black authenticity. Normally, going out of their way to be stereotypical, yet being horribly offended when others stereotype them. They also went out of their way to point out someone else they felt was emulating whites or perceived white society. Most often the people they disparage are simply trying to be productive citizens.

Ideologues

Those totally caught in a social or political philosophy and feel others must conform to their worldview. It could be a complicated philosophy or simply an organization. Many are caught in proving their organization is superior to all others.

I found the most salient representation of ideologues in Black Greek Letter Organizations in college. Every organization would discharge the other fraternities or sororities. It could lead to an altercation in some cases.

It is true that all fraternities and sororities will fight at some point regardless of race. However, BGLO’s were organized for the specific purpose of racial solidarity. It seemed to me these organizations would already have the infrastructure to quell animosity. The members should just agree to not insult or fight each other in public. I found the sororities were worse than the fraternities. I heard many girls from one sorority call members of another sorority ugly. It seems that women wouldn’t do this to each other knowing how looks cause so much insecurity. I felt these women would be better served in a non-racial feminist organization. In a feminist organization, they would not be calling each other ugly.

Bougie vs Ghetto

The other identity that was common was Bougieness. Bougieness work similarly to the Real Brotha persona, but instead of focusing on stereotypes it focused on one’s level of sophistication. Everyone not meeting the exacting sophistication standards was Ghetto and deserved to be ridiculed. The bougie persona is the silliest of all because very few black people have any real wealth. Most people in this persona signal wealth while not having any to people that also don’t have wealth.

I did not see a persona I could adopt that would unite black people and facilitate interacting with other cultures. It seemed like the personas were just another way to isolate oneself. Every black organization I saw spent most of its time attacking everyone outside the organization. Blackness was something that isolated. It forced an individual to hold everyone else suspect. I knew to get where I need to go I had to build a network.

My Presception of Black History

My knowledge of black history also played a factor in my decision to not fully integrate my ethnicity. I saw the primary reason black people found themselves in a vulnerable position financially and politically was isolation. Segregation and slavery chiefly worked to keep us away from the knowledge to improve our situation in life. We have been conditioned to isolate ourselves and to this day we have not snapped out of the mindset. That led to a lot of the conflict I was seeing in the personas. We were pitted against each other in slavery and to this day we continued the pattern.

The solution as I saw it then was to not worry about race or use it to inform your worldview. The black people around me seemed to be going out of there way to separate themselves socially not only from whites but other black people. Those with the biggest network get ahead. I was determined to reach the top and nothing including race would hold me back.

Now I have to say the categories listed above do not fully categorize black America or the black people I met in my childhood. I am talking about my perceptions. If I were to meet those same people now, I could find them to be complex individuals. But, as Dr. Cross says a person’s perceived experience is more important than their actual experience.

Ultimately, I saw few examples of people that used blackness to inform their experience in a healthy way. I just saw a bunch of people coming up with any reason to be at odds with each other. I also saw people killing themselves to be part of a mainstream suburban culture that didn’t want them. They would always criticize and demean whites but buy a house they could not afford to send their kid to a predominately white school. It was just a world full of contradictions.

Ethnic Identity Development Series (Nigrescence)

Ethnic Identity Development (Nigrescence)

The Evolution of Ethnic Identity Development

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