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Iwuoma 1 Iwuoma, Destiny Afro 5b May 9, 2012 Prof.

Robert Allen GSI Charrisse Burden-Stelly Cooperative Economics: The Road to Black Independence Over the course of this semester, we have covered many topics relating to the life and culture of African Americans in the United States. For example, a recurrent theme in our class discussions has been the phenomena of African Americans blaming white people for the problems of Black America. It was pointed out that Black people have been historically subjugated by the white power structure in America. Specifically, a large part of the blame has been directed to how the actions of the white community during slavery have led to the proliferation of contemporary issues. These issues include high incarceration rates for Black men and poor public school education for African American children. I will further investigate the economics of black people because black people are undergoing a process akin to that experienced by many colonial countries (14). The efficient way for the colony of Black America to thrive is to separate from the white power structure. In Black Awakening in Capitalist America1, Professor Robert Allen argues that cooperative economics will help move towards Black independence. He attempts to validate this assertion by analyzing the social and political context of neocolonialism. Moreover, by reassessing the ideologies of political leaders, programs, and movements such as Harold Cruse and WEB 1 Allen, Robert L. Black Awakening in Capitalist America: an analytic history. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1990. Print

Iwuoma 1 Dubois with his program of Cooperative Commonwealth, Allen makes an effort to prove that he has taken a comprehensive look at the established ideas of this discipline prior to discussing his unique perspective. The discussion in this paper will add on to from Allens conclusion, Toward A Transitional Program, where he introduces Dubois program of Cooperative Common Wealth. Before moving forward with this analysis we must establish a definition for cooperative economics. This will help decide if Black Awakening in Capitalist America serves its purpose to show that cooperative economics can help Black America move towards Black independence. So for this paper we shall adopt the definition for Cooperative Commonwealth created by WEB Dubois in his autobiographical essay, Dusk of Dawn. In Dusk of Dawn2, Dubois defines Cooperative Economics as the careful planning of the inner economy and social structure of the black community so as to promote maximum development of that community (276). So with this definition we are now equipped to see if Black Awakening in Capitalist America serves its purpose. Neocolonialism has infected Black America, and has caused black people to become subservient to the dominant white culture. Neocolonialism can be defined as the direct and overall subordination of one people, nation, or country, to another with state power in the hands of dominating power (13). In a political sense it refers to the domination of a subordinate group by representatives of the superior group. Allen claims that black people cannot afford some half hearted compromise which would make the black community in general, and its educated classes in particular, subservient to the expansionist needs of corporate capitalism (274). This explanation by Allen speaks to the point of neocolonialism in the colony of Black America. Once Black people begin making compromises they fall directly under the control of neocolonialism. As Allen claims, 2 DuBois, W. E. B.. Dusk of dawn; an essay toward an autobiography of a race concept.. New York: Schocken
Books, 1968. Print.

Iwuoma 1 Under neocolonialism an emerging country is granted formal political independence but in fact it remains a victim of an indirect and subtle form of domination (14). The emerging country in this case is Black America, Black America is standing as a separate colony within the United States. By Black America continuing to compromise with the dominant white power structure they will inevitably lose control of their respective handles on their own economic, social and cultural issues that will directly affect the stability of Black America. Allen uses Dubois ideologies to explain the affect of neocolonialism on the colony of Black people in America. Allen claims, The black community does not have control over all of the essential goods and services which it requires for survival (278). Allen is referencing this because Black people have lost control of the black community due to the success of the white power structure using neocolonialism. Neocolonialism has caused black people to have no control of their communities or economic success. Allen goes on to say the more we participate in this capitalist society the more we stray away of the goal of black economic independence. On a radical note, one would think the quickest way to Black independence would be to leave America. The back to Africa campaign would certainly remove Black America from being directly exploited by the white power structure, there is no choice but to become independent and do for self because working cooperatively becomes an act of survival. Although Garveys back to Africa plan is viable, Allen poses an opposition with an interview with Huey P. Newton. We believe that its important for us to recognize our origins and to identify with the revolutionary black people of Africa and people of color throughout the world. But as far as returning, per se, to the ancient customs, we dont see any necessity in this. And also, we say that the only culture that is worth holding on to is revolutionary culture, for change, for the better.3 3 Huey P. Newton Interview, March 1968

Iwuoma 1 By Allen posing the opposition to Marcus Garveys Back to Africa program he highlights more viable options for Black independence and it also shows the different interests of various Black leaders. Neocolonialism is packaged to make it seem as though one is gaining a positive, when you are truly getting the short end of the stick. Due to the allure of being granted with formal political independence neocolonialism is hard to resist. However, what lies behind this facade is the everlasting control by the dominant group who has granted these liberties on the subordinate group. Black people should not be interested in receiving the approval of the dominant society through formal political independence instead Black people should be interested in self liberation through self determination. This self-liberation can be reached by Dubois program of cooperative commonwealth. Dubois goes further in essay Dusk of Dawn by specifically describing what his definition would look like: economic planning to insure adequate income to the members of the community; establishment of consumer unions; elimination of private profit in merchandising operations; a planned system of black hospitals and socialized medicine; cooperative organization of black professionals so that they could provide service to all in need without regard to their own personal profit; and the establishment of a black-controlled education (276). Cooperative Economics by this definition shows a community working together to advance the entire race. Allen references a black nationalist, Harold Cruse in his book to analyze the interplay of economics, politics and culture in regards to Black America. In his piece The Crisis of the

Iwuoma 1 Negro Intellectual4, Cruse highlights the importance of culture in the movement of black independence. He argues black intellectuals and the white left have given precedence to politics and economics while playing down or totally discounting the cultural aspect (172). Cruses claim is valid because Black people have focused so much on the attainment of an individual economic base that they have done so at the risk of their culture. The goal is to strive for balance between economics and culture because having a strong economic base can help combat issues that interject with cultural issues. For instance, Allen claims Television plays the role of a socializing mechanism, probably second only to public schools devoted to inculcating blacks with middle class values (180). The rise of reality Television Shows that depict Black people in a stereotypical fashion, the media displays to their respective audiences how Black people are expected to act. Knowing that television is corrupting a childs sense of culture and identity, one instantly becomes motivated to change it. The economic base within the Black community is vital to be able to change a multibillion dollar entity such as television to stop it from inculcating blacks with white middle class values (180). Therefore television continues corrupting the minds of black children and stripping them of culture and the community. This is why the balance of economics and culture is pivotal in the progression of Black people because strong economics can help lead to the preservation of culture. The Black race is a colony within America; therefore this colony in America is susceptible to tactics of neocolonialism. In order to move toward black independence Black people must have a cooperative economic base.

4 Watts, Jerry Gafio, and Harold Cruse. Harold Cruse's The crisis of the Negro intellectual reconsidered. New York:
Routledge, 2004. Print

Iwuoma 1 The key to avoiding exploitation is to understand the problem that is plaguing the community; Economic domination usually is the most important factor. And from it flow in a logical sequence other forms of control (14). This means that having a financial base is essential to any group of people trying to establish stability. Therefore Black America should be striving for economic independence so they can be free from economic domination by the white power structure. If we have our own economic base we will not have to worry about being exploited by neocolonialist tactics . Moreover moving toward Dubois examples of cooperative commonwealth is the solution to black independence. There is history of Black people using their economic strength to make demands that improved the Black race as a whole. Professor Allen references A. Philip Randolph and how he used his economic base of Black railroad workers to push demands for the Black community as a whole. A. Phillip Randolph proclaimed to a senate committee that he would advise black youths to refuse military induction unless segregation and discrimination were banned in the armed forces (100). Randolphs pressure is an example of how Black people can use their economic leverage to receive a victory for the entire race by getting the President to desegregate units in the Armed Forces. If Black People begin to understand the power of Cooperative Common Wealth they will refrain from relying on the white power structure. Once they release their dependence on the white power structure then Black People will become independent in their endeavors to preserve their culture and build their own economic base. As a tool for progress, a strong cooperative economic base must be used to move towards Black independence. Black independence can be achieved with

Iwuoma 1 the ideologies presented in Robert Allens book Black Awakening in Capitalist America: Harold Cruse and WEB Dubois with his program of Cooperative Commonwealth provide methods that will help combat neocolonialism and move towards Black independence. In essence these ideologies are not only necessary but also imperative to improving the welfare of cooperative economics amongst black people.