The following quotations are from:
Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton, Black Power
“Racism is both overt and covert. It takes two, closely related forms: individual whites acting against individual blacks, and acts by the total white community against the black community. We call these individual racism and institutional racism. The first consists of overt acts by individuals, which cause death, injury or the violent destruction of property. This type can be recorded by television cameras; it can frequently be observed in the process of commission. The second type is less overt, far more subtle, less identifiable in terms of specific individuals committing the acts. But it is no less destructive of human life. The second type originates in the operation of established and respected forces in the society, and thus receives far less public condemnation than the first type.
When white terrorists bomb a black church and kill five black children, that is an act of individual racism, widely deplored by most segments of the society. But when in that same city—Birmingham, Alabama—five hundred black babies die each year because of the lack of proper food, shelter and medical facilities, and thousands more are destroyed and maimed physically, emotionally and intellectually because of conditions of poverty and discrimination in the black community, that is a function of institutional racism. When a black family moves into a home in a white neighborhood and is stoned, burned or routed out, they are victims of an overt act of individual racism which many people will condemn—at least in words. But it is institutional racism that keeps black people locked in dilapidated slum tenements, subject to the daily prey of exploitative slumlords, merchants, loan sharks and discriminatory real estate agents. The society either pretends it does not know of this latter situation, or is in fact incapable of doing anything meaningful about it.” 4
“…black people in this country form a colony, and it is not in the interest of the colonial power to liberate them. Black people are legal citizens of the United States with, for the most part, the same legal rights as other citizens. Yet they stand as colonial subjects in relation to white society. Thus institutional racism has another name: colonialism.” 5
“Black people in the United States have a colonial relationship to the larger society, a relationship characterized by institutional racism. That colonial status operates in three areas—political, economic, social—which we shall discuss one by one.
Colonial subjects have their political decisions made for them by the colonial masters, and those decisions are handed down directly or through a process of ‘indirect rule.’ Politically, decisions which affect black lives have always been made by white people—the ‘white power structure.’” 6-7
“Professor Robin M. Williams, Jr. has summed up the situation:
In a very basic sense, ‘race relations’ are the direct outgrowth of the long wave of European expansion, beginning with the discovery of America. Because of their more highly developed technology and economic and political organization, the Europeans were able by military force or by economic and political penetration to secure control over colonies, territories, protectorates and other possessions and spheres of influence around the world. In a way, the resulting so-called race relations had very little to do with ‘race’—initially it was an historical accident that the peoples encountered in the European expansion differed in shared physical characteristics of an obvious kind. But once the racial ideologies had been formed and widely disseminated, they constituted a powerful means of justifying political hegemony and economic control.
In much the same way, present-day vested political, economic and social privileges and rights tend to be rationalized and defended by persons and groups who hold such prerogatives.
… Whenever a number of persons within a society have enjoyed for a considerable period of time certain opportunities for getting wealth, for exercising power and authority, and for successfully claiming prestige and social deference, there is a strong tendency for these people to feel that these benefits are theirs ‘by right.’ The advantages come to be thought of as normal, proper, customary, as sanctioned by time, precedent and social consensus. Proposals to change the existing situation arouse reactions of ‘moral indignation.’ Elaborate doctrines are developed to show the inevitability and rightness of the existing scheme of things.” 7-8
“The black community perceives the ‘white power structure’ in very concrete terms. The man in the ghetto sees his white landlord come only to collect exorbitant rents and fail to make necessary repairs, while both know that the white-dominated city building inspection department will wink at violations or impose only slight fines. The man in the ghetto sees the white policeman on the corner brutally manhandle a black drunkard in a doorway, and at the same time accept a pay-off from one of the agents of the white-controlled rackets. He sees the streets in the ghetto lined with uncollected garbage, ad he knows that the powers which could send trucks in to collect that garbage are white. When they don’t, he knows the reason: the low political esteem in which the black community is held. He looks at the absence of a meaningful curriculum in the ghetto schools—for example, the history books that woefully overlook the historical achievements of black people—and he knows that the school board is controlled by whites. He is not about to listen to intellectual discourses on the pluralistic and fragmented nature of political power. He is faced with a ‘white power structure’ as monolithic as Europe’s colonial offices have been to African and Asian colonies.
There is another aspect of colonial politics frequently found in colonial Africa and in the United States: the process of indirect rule. Martin Kilson describes it in Political Change in a West African State, A Study of the Modernization Process in Sierra Leone: ‘Indirect rule is the method of local colonial administration though the agency of Chiefs who exercise executive authority. It was applied in one form or other throughout the British colonial Africa and was, from the standpoint of the metropolitan power’s budget, a form of colonialism-on-the-cheap’ (p. 24). In other words, the white power structure rules the black community through local blacks who are responsive to the white leaders, the downtown, white machine, not to the black populace. These black politicians do not exercise effective power. They cannot be relied upon to make forceful demands in behalf of their black constituents, and the become no more than puppets. They put loyalty to a political party before loyalty to their constituents and thus nullify any bargaining power the black community might develop. Colonial politics causes the subject to muffle his voice while participating in the councils of the white power structure. The black man forfeits his opportunity to speak forcefully and clearly for his race, and he justifies this in terms of expediency. Thus, when one talks of a ‘Negro Establishment’ in most places in this country, one is talking of an Establishment resting on a white power base; of hand-picked blacks whom that base projects as showpieces out front. These black ‘leaders’ are, then, only as powerful as their white kingmakers will permit them to be. This is no less true of the North than the South.” 9-11
This process of co-optation and a subsequent widening of the gap between the black elites and the masses is common under colonial rule. There has developed in this country an entire class of ‘captive leaders’ in the black communities. These are black people with certain technical and administrative skills who could provide useful leadership roles in the black communities but do not because they have become beholden to the white power structure. These are black school teachers, county agents, junior executives in management positions with companies, etc. In a study of New Orleans contained in Professor Daniel C. Thompson’s The negro Leadership Class, public school teachers emerge as the largest professional group in the black community of that city: there were 1,600 of the in 1961. These people are college-trained, articulate, and in daily contact with the young minds of the black South. For the most part (fortunately there are a few exceptions), they are not sources of positive or aggressive community leadership.” 13
“Those who would assume the responsibility of representing black people in this country must be able to throw off the notion that they can effectively do so and still maintain a maximum amount of security. Jobs will have to be sacrificed, positions of prestige and status given up, favors forfeited. It may well be—and we think it is—that leadership and security are basically incompatible. When one forcefully challenges the racist system, one cannot, at the same time, expect that system to reward him or even treat him comfortably. Political leadership which pacifies and stifles its voice and then rationalizes this on grounds of gaining ‘something for my people’ is, at bottom, gaining only meaningless, token rewards that an affluent society is perfectly willing to give.” 15
“This is why the society does nothing meaningful about institutional racism: because the black community has been the creation of, and dominated by, a combination of oppressive forces and special interests in the white community. The groups which have access to the necessary resources and the ability to effect change benefit politically and economically from the continued subordinate status of the black community. This is not to say that every single white American consciously oppresses lack people. He does not need to. Institutional racism has been maintained deliberately by the power structure and through the indifference, inertia and lack of courage on the part of white masses as well as petty officials. Whenever black demands for change become loud and strong, indifference is replaced by active opposition based on fear and self-interest. The line between purposeful suppression and indifference blurs. One way or another, most whites participate in economic colonialism.” 22
“In the face of such realities, it becomes ludicrous to condemn black people for ‘not showing more initiative.’ Black people are not in a depressed condition because of some defect in their character. The colonial power structure clamped a boot of oppression on the neck of the black people and then, ironically, said ‘they are not ready for freedom.’ Left solely to the good will of the oppressor, the oppressed would never be ready.
And no one accepts blame. And there is no ‘white power structure’ doing it to them. And they are in that condition ‘because they are lazy and don’t want to work.’ And this is not colonialism. And this is the land of opportunity, and the home of the free. And people should not become alienated.
But people do become alienated.” 23
“Black people in the United States must raise hard questions, questions which challenge the very nature of the society itself: its long-standing values, beliefs and institutions.
To do this, we must first redefine ourselves Our basic need is to reclaim our history and our identity from what must be called cultural terrorism, from the depredation of self-justifying white guilt. We shall have to struggle for the right to create our own terms through which to define ourselves and our relationship to the society, and to have these terms recognized. This is the first necessity of a free people, and the first right that any oppressor must suspend.
In Politics Among Nations, Hans Morgenthau defined political power as ‘the psychological control over the minds of men’ (p. 29). This control includes the attempt by the oppressor to have his definitions, his historical descriptions, accepted by the oppressed. This was true in Africa no less than in the United States. To black Africans, the word ‘Uhuru’ means ‘freedom,’ but they had to fight the white colonizers for the right to use the term. The recorded history of this country’s dealings with red and black men offers other examples. In the wars between the white settlers and the ‘Indians,’ a battle won by the Cavalry was described as a ‘victory.’ The ‘Indians’’ triumphs, however, were ‘massacres.’ (The American colonists were not unaware of the need to define their acts in their own terms. They labeled their fight against England a ‘revolution’; the English attempted to demean it by calling it ‘insubordination’ or ‘riotous.’)” 34-36
“Today, the American educational system continues to reinforce the entrenched values of the society through the use of words. Few people in this country question that this is ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ They have had these words drummed into them from childhood. Few people question that this is the ‘Great Society’ or that this country is fighting ‘Communist aggression’ around the world. We mouth these things over and over, and they become truisms not to be questioned. In a similar way, black people have been saddled with epithets.
‘Integration’ is another current example of a word which has been defined according to the way white Americans see it. To many of them, it means black men wanting to marry white daughters; it means ‘race mixing’—implying bed or dance partners. To black people, it has meant a way to improve their lives—economically and politically. But the predominant white definition has stuck in the minds of too many people.
Black people must redefine themselves, and only they can do that. Throughout this country, vast segments of the black communities are beginning to recognize the need to assert their own defintions, to reclaim their history, their culture; to create their own sense of community and togetherness. There is a growing resentment of the word ‘Negro,’ for example, because this term is the invention of our oppressor; it is his image of us that he describes. Many blacks are now calling themselves African-Americans, Afro-Americans or black people because that is our image of ourselves. When we begin to define our own image, the stereotypes—that is, lies—that our oppressor has developed will begin in the white community and end there. The black community will have a positive image of itself that it has created. This means we will no longer call ourselves lazy, apathetic, dumb, good-timers, shiftless, etc. Those are words used by white America to define us. If we accept these adjectives, as some of us have in the past, then we see ourselves only in a negative way, precisely the way white America wants us to see ourselves. Our incentive is broken and our will to fight is surrendered. From now on we shall view ourselves as African-Americans and as black people who are in fact energetic, determined, intelligent, beautiful and peace-loving.” 37-38
“Only when black people fully develop this sense of community, of themselves, can they begin to deal effectively with the problems of racism in this country. This is what we mean by a new consciousness: this is the vital first step.
The next step is what we call the process of political modernization—a process which must take place if the society is to be rid of racism. ‘Political modernization’ includes many things, but we mean by it three major concepts: (1) questioning old values and institutions of the society; (2) searching for new and different forms of political structure to solve political and economic problems; and (3) broadening the base of political participation to include more people in the decision-making process.” 39
“The values of this society support a racist system; we find it incongruous to ask black people to adopt and support most of those values. We also reject the assumption that the basic institutions of this society must be preserved. The goal of black people must not be to assimilate into middle-class America, for that class—as a whole—is without a viable conscience as regards humanity. The values of the middle class permit the perpetuation of the ravages of the black community. The values of that class are based on material aggrandizement, not the expansion of humanity. The values of that class ultimately support cloistered little closeted societies tucked away neatly in tree-lined suburbia. The values of that class do not lead to the creation of an open society.” 40
“This class wants ‘good government’ for themselves; it wants good schools for its children. At the same time, many of its members sneak into the black community by day, exploit it, and take the money home to their middle-class communities at night to support their operas and art galleries and comfortable homes. When not actually robbing, they will fight off the handful of more affluent black people who seek to move in; when they approve or even seek token integration, it applies only to black people like themselves—as ‘white’ as possible. This class is the backbone of institutional racism in this country.
Thus we reject the goal of assimilation into middle-class America because the values of that class are in themselves anti-humanist and because that class as a social force perpetuates racism. We must face the fact that, in the past, what we have called the movement has not really questioned the middle-class values and institutions of this country. If anything, it has accepted those values and institutions without fully realizing their racist nature. Reorientation means an emphasis on the dignity of man, not on the sanctity of property. It means the creation of a society where human misery and poverty are repugnant to that society, not an indication of laziness or lack of initiative. The creation of new values means the establishment of a society based, as Killens expresses it in Black Man’s Burden, on ‘free people,’ not ‘free enterprise’ (p. 167). To do this means to modernize—indeed, to civilize—this country.” 41
“The adoption of the concept of Black Power is one of the most legitimate and healthy developments in American politics and race relations in our time. The concept of Black Power speaks to all the needs mentioned in this chapter. It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to begin to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations and to support those organizations. It is a call to reject the racist institutions and values of this society.
The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise: Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this we mean that group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society.” 44
“The point is obvious: black people must lead and run their own organizations. Only black people can convey the revolutionary idea—and it is a revolutionary idea—that black people are able to do things themselves. Only they can help create in the community an aroused and continuing black consciousness that will provide the basis for political strength. In the past, white allies have often furthered white supremacy without the whites involved realizing it, or even wanting to do so. Black people must come together and do things for themselves. They must achieve self-identity and self-determination in order to have their daily needs met.” 46
“When black people lack a majority, Black Power means proper representation and sharing of control. It means the creation of power bases, of strength, from which black people can press to change local or nation-wide patterns of oppression—instead of from weakness.
It does not mean merely putting black faces into office. Black visibility is not Black Power. The power must be that of a community, and emanate from there. The black politicians must start from there. The black politicians must stop being representatives of ‘downtown’ machines, whatever the cost might be in terms of lost patronage and holiday handouts.” 46-47
“The ultimate values and goals are not domination or exploitation of other groups, but rather an effective share in the total power of the society.” 47
“The goal of black self-determination and black self-identity—Black Power—is full participation in the decision-making processes affecting the lives of black people, and recognition of the virtues in themselves as black people.” 47
National Council of Churches, 1966: “America has asked its Negro citizens to fight for opportunity as individuals, whereas at certain points in our history what we have needed most has been opportunity for the whole group, not just for selected and approved Negroes.
… We must not apologize for the existence of this form of group power, for we have been oppressed as a group and not as individuals. We will not find our way out of that oppression until both we and America accept the need for Negro Americans, as well as for Jews, Italians, Poles, and white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, among others, to have and to wield group power.” 49
“One of the tragedies of the struggle against racism is that up to this point there has been no national organization which could speak to the growing militancy of young black people in the urban ghettos and the black-belt South. There has been only a ‘civil rights’ movement; whose tone of voice was adapted to an audience of middle-class whites. It served as a sort of buffer zone between that audience and angry young blacks. It claimed to speak for the needs of a community, but it did not speak in the tone of that community.” 50
“… the President picked up the refrain of ‘We Shall Overcome’ while the Congress passed civil rights law after civil rights law, only to have them effectively nullified by deliberately weak enforcement. ‘Progress is being made,’ we were told.
Such language, along with admonitions to remain non-violent and fear the white backlash, convinced some that that course was the only course to follow. It misled some into believing that a black minority could bow its head and get whipped into a meaningful position of power. The very notion is absurd. The white society devised the language, adopted the rules and had the black community narcotized into believing that that language and those rules were, in fact, relevant. The black community was told time and again how other immigrants finally won acceptance: that is, by following the Protestant Ethic of Work and Achievement.” 51
Dr. Percy Julian: “We were taught a pretty little lie—excel and the whole world lies before you. I obeyed the injunction and found it to be wishful thinking.” 52
“From our viewpoint, rampaging white mobs and white night-riders must be made to understand that their days of free head-whipping are over. Black people should and must fight back.” 52
“Those of us who advocate Black Power are quite clear in our own minds that a ‘non-violent’ approach to civil rights is an approach black people cannot afford and a luxury white people do not deserve. It is crystal clear to us—and it must become so with the white society—that there can be no social order without social justice. White people must be made to understand that they must stop messing with black people, or the blacks will fight back!
Next, we must deal with the term ‘integration.’ According to its advocates, social justice will be accomplished by ‘integrating the Negro into the mainstream institutions of the society from which he has been traditionally excluded.’ This concept is based on the assumption that there is nothing of value in the black community and that little of value could be created among black people. The thing to do is siphon off the ‘acceptable’ black people into the surrounding middle-class white community.
The goals of integrationists are middle-class goals, articulated primarily by a small group of Negroes with middle-class aspirations or status. Their kind of integration has meant that a few blacks ‘make it,’ leaving the black community, sapping it of leadership potential and know-how. As we noted in Chapter I, those token Negroes—absorbed into a white mass—are of no value to the remaining black masses.” 53
“If there is no intense struggle today, there will be no meaningful results tomorrow.” 54
“The goal is not to take black children out of the black community and expose them to white middle-class values; the goal is to build and strengthen the black community.” 55
“The fact is that what must be abolished is not the black community, but the dependent colonial status that has been inflicted upon it.” 55
“No person can be healthy, complete and mature if he must deny a part of himself; this is what ‘integration’ has required thus far. This is the essential difference between integration as it is currently practiced and the concept of Black Power.” 55