Why the Black Bourgeoisie Will Always Clash With the Black Radical Tradition
I wanted to get a few things off my chest. No heavy research, no cited articles or academic theories. Just me giving it to you the way I see it and speaking my mind.
Let me first define what I mean by the black bourgeoisie. The black bourgeoisie is that group of black super-capitalists who have bought into the system of corporatism and domination that has been used by people in the dominant society for generations to control not only the U.S. economy but thanks to globalization...the global economy as well. Black people have been taught that if they're not in the bourgeoisie, then they should strive to be.
But no one talks about the class struggle that develops between the black poor and the black upper middle class/black upper class when the mad dash into the black bourgeoisie occurs.
Now in many cases, this class dynamic has always been a source of conflict within the black community. It's not to say that these are bad people, I'm not suggesting that. I'm also not suggesting that people shouldn't strive to obtain wealth. After all, we do live in a system that at the moment we can't dictate to without a major political revolution. However, there is a conflict in the agendas of those in the black bourgeoisie and those who push for a more radical redistribution of wealth and/or radical political situation that would do more for black people as a whole and not just a tiny minority of black elites. This is what many in the black radical tradition have done for decades now - they've called for these things.
I recently wrote about why I think all of the excitement around black spending power has become a little overrated. It is a positive metric and it does mean something, but I don't think it means what people are trying to make it mean.
At the heart of what I'm trying to say is that the path forward for black people may not come through traditional capitalism. Matter of fact, capitalism as a system has taken many shots to its legitimacy over the past few years (honestly for decades, but for the sake of discussion we'll keep it recent). Capitalism more and more has shown itself to be a system of haves and have-nots, a system of exploitation where you can really only get ahead if you have the capitol to invest your money in assets that will make money for you. If you don't have that then guess what, your survival is based on the generosity of your employer and the strength of the social safety net. So obviously, if you have a bunch of crony capitalists and plutocrats who don't really value you as a worker, then you'll struggle to make ends meet...and that is exactly what is happening today!
The black radical tradition can be explained in numerous ways depending on who you read. I've written about it before, and it's important for us to understand the importance of this tradition in the progress of the black community as a whole. The black bourgeoisie tend to be more conservative (not always, but in general) and are less likely to speak on issues that hurt the black working class and black poor more than them. In many ways, it's some in this group that has learned the least from history. The black radical tradition is the reason why black Americans have progressed to where we are today. This is a point I try to make often, it wasn't black conservatism and the uber-capitalist black bourgeoisie class that was in the streets in the 1960's fighting for civil rights. It was activist leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. who spoke favorably of democratic socialism that got civil rights legislation passed. However, I think King's more radical economic message has largely been lost on the black working class who followed him.
Let's also comes to grips with the fact that capitalism has done nothing to address poverty in the black community...because it really can't. The only current way to raise yourself out of poverty involves either getting a job with a high, above average wage or starting some sort of business enterprise. Poverty is not even an issue that comes up in most democratic party circles as people like Cornel West have criticized for several years now. Black poverty remains the highest in the country whether you're looking at black children, black families, black men, black women...across the board. There's a clear conflict between what folks are saying the system of capitalism can do, and what it's actually doing and has done. The racial wealth gap exposes not just racist policies in housing and education, but also the fact that for generations only white men were allowed to be titans of capitol. Much of the wealth in the Top 1% has been passed down from those past eras.
In the future, black people must come to realize that long-term survival will come only when the masses benefit from the wealth they create for businesses. The workplace needs to be more democratized than it currently is. It needs to be fairer than it currently is. It needs to be less exploitative than it currently is. Once we understand that black progress will only come through black radicalism and the black radical tradition and not the black bourgeoisie, as has always been the case before, the better off we will be. Embrace black radicalism like your life depends on it.
So I've launched a new e-commerce store through Shopify called Kandake & Barca. This has been a plan I've had in motion for far too long and it's finally here...growing pains and all. Support us anyway that you can, I didn't want to start a Patreon even though that would've been easier. I wanted to actually build something I could call my own. Some of you might have noticed that the store section of the blog is no longer there. I've transferred everything to Kandake & Barca. So you can go there and not only find items that used to be on this website but a whole lot more as well. This is only the beginning and I have big plans for Kandake & Barca in the near future. So stay tuned!