Sundiata Acoli Question #3 From DreadedBliss

Sister nattyreb, I would love to hear Elder Acoli’s thoughts on integration and what he feels it has done, both positive and negative, for our people. Lately especially I’m really feeling like the whole integration thing has helped to wipe out the unity we once felt as a people, something I can only get a feel for most of the time ‘less I’m around my Brothers and Sisters who are on the same kind of vibe.

See I was born down south in the late ’70s and growing up I just don’t recall much of that unity and pulling together that I’ve read/heard about. I was listening to WRFG the other day and they were saying how back in the day, when times got hard we used to watch out for one another and rely on each other way more. Not just family but friends, neighbors, all that.

Maybe I’m just feeling mighty sensitive about it all ’cause times are hard and I look around and it’s just, I don’t know, seems like it’s every man/woman for himself/herself.

When I’m walking down the street I try and greet my Brothers and Sisters and look them in the eyes and smile and we’re just not vibin’ like that. I don’t know why.

Anyway, I’ve got some thoughts on this but this is all for now . I hope my question isn’t too obtuse. I’ve got a problem with tangents

Sundiata Answer #3

Sundiata: Well there’s integration – and there’s equality, desegration, anti-discrimination, etc. Black people were/are struggling for “equality,” (Black equality, if you will) which is a human right, a universal right for Black people to be treated equal to all other people on earth. In fact, we were/are struggling for the right of all people to be treated equally. White racists, White liberals and Bourgeoise Blacks called our struggle for “Black equality” a struggle for “integration” to put the focus on privileged Whites instead of oppressed Blacks and others of color. White racists used “integration” as a buzz word to spread hostility against Blacks by implying that our main goal was to integrate, mix and “miscegenate” with Whites. White Liberals called our struggle “integration” out of their paternalistic need to deem which Blacks were/are acceptable for mixing and associating with Whites. The Black bourgeoise accepted perpetuated the term “integration” because their main goal actually was/is to mix with and be accepted by Whites as equals, which is there definition of equality.

Some positive things “integration” (or rather, our struggle against segregation/discrimination and for equality) did is that it got rid of legal segregation and much of the open discrimination against Blacks, others of color and even oppressed Whites in public and many private facilities: buses, trains, hotels, restaurants, recreation facilities, hospitals, schools, universities, workplaces, housings, voting booths/politics etc; so that there are many more opportunities open to Blacks and others oppressed than previously.

Obviously people of color still don’t have full equality in this country and i doubt we ever will as long as the u.s. remains a capitalist society. Capitalism was built on private property and racial and class exploitation.They are part of its foundation and can’t be rooted out unless capitalism itself is destroyed.

Some negative things “integration” did was that it stunted, corroded and destroyed many of the Black institutions, businesses and facilities that previously existed in our community. It closed many Black High Schools, demoted Black school administrators to regular teachers or retired or fired them and sprinkled Black High School students among the White High Schools. Integration saw Blacks flock to patronize White businesses; Black businesses couldn’t compete, didn’t grow and closed up shop or remained 4th rate enterprises. Integration saw Blacks flock to White suburbs, Whites moved out and are now flocking back to the cities thru gentrification projects that buy abandoned buildings etc in Black communities. The gov’t used “integration and beyond” to increase the Black middle class and create the beginning of a true Black Bourgeoise class. There’s also been a sizeable increase in the Black underclass who are suffering from poverty and racism but are getting little (or not enough) help from the Black upper classes and this has eroded a lot of the Black unity that was present prior to “integration.” And last “integration” has caused some Blacks (and many Whites) to think we are free and no longer need Black unity and struggle.

As for Sis Dreaded Bliss being born in the ’70s and not recalling all of the Black unity that folks say existed then; well, i find that many older people, or those who were there at the time, tend to exaggerate a little when they reminisce about the good ole days or the good things during their generation or times. Often the exaggerations are basically true but just magnified somewhat to stress a point, boost their own ego or to show what people should be doing now. But even considering the exaggerations, it’s clear that more Black unity and struggle existed in the past (especially during the Civil Rights, Black Power and Black Liberation era of the mid-’50s, ’60s and early ’70s) than exist now. i think it was because we knew as a people that we were all in it together, our backs were to the wall and we had nowhere to go but forward or remain slaves.

There’s no doubt that “integration” has increased the Black middle/upper classes, made some Blacks prosperous and made others feel they are free; yet there are still masses of poor underclass Blacks among us such that an overall effect of integration is that it’s increased the class divisions among us. So what many see as a decrease in Black unity is really the increase in class divisions (both actual and ideological) among us: the Black upper classes separating from (some say “abandoning”) the Black underclasses. It’s probably the first sign that the Black struggle will be forced to move more toward class struggle.

Struggle, Sundiata