Posts Tagged ‘capitalism’

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This series explores the truth about America’s culture of dependency: that it is driven by the antiquated ideology about an economic system that no longer works in the favor of the people.

The Story

I was recently reflected on American history and how it was that this country has gone through so many catastrophes and calamities and still managed to rise to the top as a world power to be both feared and followed. It is in this history that I see where this notion of The American Dream became possible. Through the rise of men like Vanderbilt, Rockerfeller, J.P. Morgan, and others. These men who built empires from relatively humble beginnings and went on to contribute so much what this country became. However, it’s no secret that the America in which they were living was a much different place than what it is now. So the question emerges: is The American Dream now just a dream?

Whitepaper-Capitalism-and-American-DreamThe Backdrop of the Dream

Capitalism is the backdrop for the story of The American Dream. The principles and ideologies inherent in capitalist theory have saturated our mindsets and changed the way we interact with one another. The ruthless competition that it inspires for aggressive business is taken as a social model that we use to create socially acceptable identities.

How many times does one here a person identify themselves by what they do? How celebrated is it when an individual speaks of their aspirations for economic and/or business domination as opposed to say developing a charitable organization or performing civil service? In regards to the ideology of capitalism and its presumptions about people, there are 2 major issues.

Capitalism makes 2 major assertions regarding people: that people are mostly self-interested and those that accumulate material wealth are the most happy. While it is arguable whether these two assertions are accurate, the fact that America has adopted the capitalist economic model means that the economic structure of our society will create the truth of these 2 premises by default of forcing people to survive within a system that already presumes this to be true. The system exists and makes these assumptions, people will become these things in order to survive within the system. These 2 assertions combined with the fact that individuals are viewed as commodities and their only value is based on what they create brings those at the bottom of the economic structure to seek, above all else, material wealth.IT'S-CALLED-THE-AMERICAN-DREAM-BECAUSE-YOU-HAVE-IT-TO-BE-ASLEEP-TO-BELIEVE-IT

Shattered Dreams

Capitalism is the ideology often attributed with making The American Dream possible. I can see how one might make that assumption. it would appear free market enterprise, competition, and the drive for innovation would offer a smart, hard working American the opportunity to enter the market and make something out of nothing. But this is not wholly true. The truth is that those men like Vanderbilt, Rockerfeller, J.P. Morgan and others were not just smart, ambitious, hard working men who did great things. What made them successful was their ability to accumulate working capital to fund their ambitions. Capital that today, in light of the economic crash of Walls Street, the folding of the real estate industry, the collapse of the automobile industry, and the deterioration of the banking industry, is not easy to come by. This in turn makes The American Dream only possible for a small percentage of the country who have private means or the power and influence to secure capital.

Social mobility is as American as apple pie. It is what drives Americans. Our dreams, hopes, and fantasies of being one of those amazing rags-to-riches stories. But the truth about social mobility brings light to the dreams we conjure in the dark.

Pew Video: Economic Mobility and the American Dream

A study conducted by colleagues of Harvard and Berkeley discovered the determinants of social mobility in the United States.

The top 5 factors that influence social mobility

Family structure

Racial and economic segregation

School quality

Social capital

Income inequality

– Harvard Research Study, Where is the Land of Opportunity?

For some this may seem discouraging; however, there is nothing possibly tangible about a hope based on a lie. The study exposes the truth about upward social mobility in America. According  to the study to climb the social ladder in America, one cannot be self-interested and only concerned with accumulating material wealth. The greatest factors affecting social mobility have to do with an individuals connection to the people closest to them: their family and their community.

The study found that people who grow up in communities with a large amount of married parents tend to do better economically as well as people who grow up in racially segregated communities. This makes the obvious point that as much as we may want to buy into the model that everyone pulls himself up by his own bootstraps, apparently it takes a lot more than one pair of hands to do the pulling. It is not hard to see that the fact that the ability to amass capital has become much more regulated and less risk-taking, if one wants to be socially mobile in America today, they’d better have some help.DreamIsOver

The Problem

America has become the most blindly nostalgic countries in the world. We hold onto antiquated methodologies like a dog with a clean bone. We refuse to see that while we have been reveling in our own greatness, the world has been making advances and innovations to that which we created. That in turn has created an entirely different reality, which to accomplish greatness will require an entirely different model for dreaming.

Economists of today have stated that America is not a pure capitalist country (maybe it never was). The model under which we live is a mixed economy that falls somewhere between socialism and capitalism. Hence, the redundant battles between the right and left wings of politics who constantly argue about social welfare and private enterprise. I imagine America much more of a mixed economy now than it ever was. That being said, a purely capitalist view of navigating the system will fail to produce the results of years past.

Perhaps it is because these moguls who came to power during a past era, refuse to learn new tricks and instead want to hold the country hostage to ways better off discarded. Or maybe it is that we think that we can bring the dream back to life and restore the world to the way it was. Or maybe it is simply the loss of hope that comes from letting go of a dream that we cannot bear. Whatever the reason, the time to move forward and bring our mindsets in alignment with the present and give our imaginations over to a future that springs from the present is more than overdue.Redefining American Dream

The Point

As people trying to understand and navigate the system in hopes of achieving our American dream, we have to honest with ourselves about the system that we are dealing with. The capitalist moguls who made names for themselves in the early days following The Civil War, were dealing with a country with less regulation on the economy and trade market. Those men might have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, but they also had less scissors nipping at their strings. Things they did then to come to power will get you locked up now. They are no longer the success models to be followed.

We have to explore new models of economic prowess and success. We have to wake up and take a look around. Absorb the truth of the reality in which we live and then go on to dream of how this America can imagine a new dream. We need to dream a new plot line to The American Dream. Otherwise, the 1% of people controlling American wealth will remain at the top and us poor dreamers will be left at the bottom along with our pieces of our dreams.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

Resources

Marx, Karl. Capital.

National Bureau of Economic Research. Where is the Land of Opportunity? 2014.

Wilcox, W. Bradford. Family Matters. Slate.com. 2014.

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This series explores the truth about America’s culture of dependency: that it is driven by the antiquated ideology about an economic system that no longer works in the favor of the people.

The Story

More than any other individuals, wealthy black people have by words and deeds encouraged the black masses to worship at the throne of money.

– Bell Hooks, Salvation: Black People and Love

It has never ceased to amaze me how wealthy Black people perpetuate the ideology of the system against which they had to fight to get to where they are. Instead of using their position to dismantle the system (or at least shake it up), they wallow in their coveted new positions within the system’s structure. They insist that anyone can achieve what they have achieved by simply buying into the system. They fail to realize that they are one of the few that have been allowed to slip through the cracks of disenfranchisement in order to portray a stance of fairness and equality. They are the tokens that are held up to the rest of the community’s face to prove that nothing is wrong with the way things are. The truth is something entirely different.

America is a capitalist country. That is the economic model that we use. However, what should be an economic model has become our way of life. For the Black community, there are a number of dangers in using capitalism as a social model for success and happiness.

Capitalism as a Social Model

Capitalism is an economic system that focuses on the production of commodities and the exchange of these commodities. This is fairly easy to understand when talking about products and material goods; however, when speaking of labor and human performed service, things become more complex. Labor gains its value because of the part it plays in the production of material goods. For example, a sweater that is hand knitted may be more expensive in value than that of one produced by a machine because the human labor has to be considered and that human has to be paid on top of the materials that are purchased. This is how labor gains its value in capitalist theory. The products of human labor also include intangible goods such as services that are performed. These services, like the hand-made sweater, are products of labor. In the social aspect, products of labor give the perception of applying value to the actual laborer that does the producing. In short, the laborer becomes a commodity to be valued simply because the value of its products are connected to the human labor that produces it.

A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social character of men’s labour appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labour; because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labour is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labour.

– Karl Marx, Capital.

The production of labor influences the social character of the laborer because their products are viewed as external extensions of them. For example, fashion designers create tangible products that reflect their labor. The high fashion designer develops his/her prestige according to the value of the products that they produce. This gives the designer a measure of prestige because they are the creators of a highly valued product. This creates a blending of individual identity with the products of labor that they produce.

Often when an American is asked about their identity, at some point, we mention the work we do. We describe ourselves as being a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, etc. The products of our labor become merged with who we are. That is because in a capitalist country like America the products of our labor imply our social standing, our intelligence, our education, and our value in society. One would rather say, ‘I am a lawyer,’ than say ‘I am a nurse.’ One would rather say ‘I am an administrative assistant,’ than say ‘I am a janitor.’ This is because upon immediately hearing these descriptions, certain presumptions arise in the mind. When one hears that someone is a lawyer, it is thought that they make a substantial amount of money and can access power and influence in our society. When one hears that someone is a janitor, it is presumed that this person doesn’t have much education or isn’t that intelligent because if they did they would be a lawyer or something more prestigious. This connection merging of the value of the productions of our labor with who we are as laborers skewed our perception about identity and self-worth.

The Problem

The biggest problem with capitalism as a social model is that it only values the tangible. This concept forces an individual into a one dimensional box in which they can only identify themselves as what they are able to produce. These are the people that when you ask them where they will be in 5 years, their only answer is to be rich. These are the people who when you ask them about their dreams and desires, you never hear them mention love, friendship, or having a family. They can only identify with that which capitalism gives value to: material wealth.

For Black people this is especially problematic as we are, by our ancestral nature, communal people. We are inclined to connect and interact with one another, but this capitalist model doesn’t allow for that, because capitalism is driven by competition. Anyone who is going to attempt to be successful in a capitalist society must be obsessively driven towards its goal of material wealth and with the competition of everyone else, there is no time for that which does not lead towards material wealth. So, we place more value and spend more time worshiping money and pursuing the accumulation of material wealth than anything else.

The Point

What is most important about life is not in the things that we accumulate; those things are temporal. The essence of humanity is not tangible. What makes a person a person — what makes a person valuable — is not tangible. The greatest accomplishments we have made as Black people, was accomplished through collective efforts. There is nothing revolutionary about self-interest; there is nothing revolutionary about wealth; there is nothing revolutionary about capitalism. And revolution is what we need.

I do not seek to attack capitalism nor do I seek to suggest that it is the most horrible economic model the United States could ascribe to. What I am saying is that when sought by those for whom it was not built (in this case the Black community), it will never yield salvation. If upward social mobility, success, and happiness are what we are truly seeking we will have to face the facts that even while living in a capitalist society, we cannot live by capitalist ideology. If we are ever going to topple the gods that rule us, we will have to stop worshipping at their throne.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

References

Hooks, Bell. Salvation: Black People and Love.

Marx, Karl. Capital.

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

More than any other group in America, the Black community has been thoroughly colonized into embodying the tragic American Nationalist identity. That identity being framed by imperialism, white-supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy, flaws the ideologies produced by American culture. For the ideologies of the Black community, this is dangerously problematic.

American Nationalism

The framework of American Nationalism instills, in Americans who embrace it, a way of being and acting that is anchored by certain values and principles that justify these behaviors. For instance the fact that part of American Nationalism is an imperialistic world view and a white-supremacist domestic view means that those who embrace American Nationalism, inadvertently approach people who are non-white as non-American and anyone non-American is engaged with an air of fascism that relegates those individuals to being inferior because they are different. The other part of the American Nationalist framework is capitalism and patriarchy. Both of these ideologies provide the groundwork for hostile interpersonal relationships between citizens. In America, it is capitalism that creates social class and patriarchy that promotes gender supremacy (for males ofcourse). Capitalism with its promise of an economy not regulated by the government and the opportunity for anyone to ‘make it big’ is America’s greatest delusion. However, many Americans support and protect capitalism (usually the ones who have made gains within it or at least have the potential to). For Minorities (and by minorities I mean non-white ethnic groups and women) the playing field of capitalism is a mountain that begins on a slippery hill beneath the plateau that White Americans usually begin their climb. This means that because we begin with a deficit of financial resources and because of discrimination our ability to accumulate financial resources through working income or income generating assets, the playing field is not leveled. Since the capitalism relies on competition to obtain the greatest gains and the only way to be competitive is to have access to financial resources, which we can scarcely accumulate, then, in truth, we are never let into the game let alone allowed to play. This creates hostility between the haves and the have nots. It creates a social class system that surrounds material assets, prestige, and power. The 99% of Americans who do not and my never obtain such wealth, spend their lives working to try and obtain it. For minorities it becomes an obsession. For Black people, in particular, it becomes the standard against which we measure our lives, social standing, success, and self esteem.

Party to Privilege

It is from this obsession that if Black people have fought for the equal opportunity to access those things that they feel will allow them to climb the mountain of capitalistic success. Enter Affirmative Action. This piece of legislation opened doors for Black people — doors people still didn’t want open. So, even when Black people got there, they were met with resistance, discrimination, and prejudice. Being surrounded by an environment like that on a daily basis with no space to nurture, heal, and resist the bombarding messages, is dangerous. It often fractures the psyche of that individual as they try to reconcile how they have finally arrived but not really arrived at all.

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The national middle class which takes over power at the end of the colonial regime is an under-developed middle class. It has practically no economic power, and in any case it is in no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace. In its wilful narcissism, the national middle class is easily convinced that it can advantageously replace the middle class of the mother country.

– Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Those individuals who have been offered a seat at the welcome table and become party to privilege soon find that entry to these spaces and access to these opportunities does not erase the hatred that sought to keep them out. Instead the hatred just finds other ways of expressing itself and limiting the potential. This is something I have often seen in academia. I remember meeting Black students who were attending or had attended prestigious white universities. I remember all too often they looked like the walking dead. There seemed to be something hollow behind their eyes and they were defensive. These were the people that I saw viciously criticize their own community. And not in the tough love kind of way, they did it the way someone from outside the community might do it: with ignorance. What happened was they had gained access to this new world and in order to survive they had to assimilate. That brought a level of detachment from their own community. So that they could no longer understand their own people — and in many cases these students had always gone to predominately white schools and, therefore, never really had a sense of understanding Black people beyond their families. That is the cost of the ticket when you want to sit at the table of the privileged and even while you are allowed to sit and eat as a guest, you will never be considered a resident.

This native bourgeoisie, which has adopted unreservedly and with enthusiasm the ways of thinking characteristic of the mother country, which has become wonderfully detached from its own thought and has based its consciousness upon foundations which are typically foreign, will realize, with its mouth watering, that it lacks something essential to a bourgeoisie: money. The bourgeoisie of an under-developed country is a bourgeoisie in spirit only.

– Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

The Talented Tenth

It is from this kind of experience that W.E.B. DuBois formulates his theory of the Talented Tenth. I remember reading The Negro problem for the first time and I remember the distaste I had while reading the essay, The Talented Tenth. I kept re-reading it because all of my professors went on and on about DuBois and I had researched the term after hearing one of my professors make mention of it to the class by telling us that we were as college students part of the talented tenth and that we had a duty to fulfill. So I kept reading this essay and I kept thinking, this motherfucker is elitist as hell! I finally decided that regardless of what anyone thought, that whole theory was bogus and problematic and that DuBois wasn’t all that to me. It was some years later when I returned to DuBoise body of work and discovered that he, himself, had later denounced the entire idea (now why the hell doesn’t anyone ever talk about that?! I guess because talented tenth is catchy and sounds nice).

dubois

When I came out of college into the world of work, I realized that it was quite possible that my plan of training a talented tenth might put into control and power a group of selfish, self indulgent well-to-do men, whose basic interest in solving the negro problem was personal; personal freedom and unhampered enjoyment and use of the world, without any real care, or certainly no arousing care as to what became of the mass of American negroes or of the mass of any people. — Selfishness is even more natural than sacrifice.

– W.E.B. DuBois, The Talented Tenth Memorial Address

DuBois, with an emphasis on education as a means of liberation, built this ideology in the hopes that other Black people who, like him, were finally gaining access to higher education, would lead their people. However, what he found beyond the safety of the academy was a much different reality. This revelation that he makes in his address clearly describes what has become of the Black middle class/Black Bourgeoisie, which by DuBois’ estimations would be the academics. Today’s Black academics take their seat at the welcome table and the only true concern that they have is to secure and retain their place and enjoy and use the world to secure a better place at the table of white-supremacy. That is our talented tenth.

The Guiding Hundredth

In his memorial address, DuBois revisioned his idea of the talented tenth of what he’d learned of the world outside the academy and the theories of Karl Marx and more radical minds. He then suggested that we realize that the struggle would have to be a “group-leadership” in which not just a few elites would change the destiny of the people, but the people themselves ‘with clear vision of present world conditions and dangers.”

This, then, in my re-examined and restated theory of the “Talented Tenth,” which has thus become the doctrine of the “Guiding Hundredth.”

-W.E.B. DuBois, The Talented Tenth Memorial Address

For whatever reason, it is only quietly noted that the concept of the Talented Tenth is an ideology that would never produce its intended results and would, in effect, create internal tensions for the Black community. Yet, we continue to glorify and glamorize it because, like well trained Americans, we want to believe that we are superior and privileged (even though it’s only supposed to be a tenth of the Black population which means some us were not meant to be Talented Tenthers). That is tragedy.

The Problem

The problem is that without first decolonizing one’s mind, a Black leader will stumble blindly through the imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Because they have not redesign and realigned their desires and values, they will only replicate the same system they sought to oppose.

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It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being determines their consciousness.

– Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

Institutions are how ideology is passed along and sustained. This is not to say that any institution, by itself, is evil or bad. This is simply to say that it has an inherent flaw because of the system that designed it and that it must serve. For example, institutions of higher learning are excellent places for intellectual growth and scholarly development; however, most of these institutions serve at the pleasure of the federal government which allocates finances to students through grants and loans to students. So while indirect, there is a level of control beyond the institutions governing powers and that influences what gets taught, how policies are formed, and how students are engaged. So to enter an institution of higher learning is a worthwhile endeavor but one must struggle constantly to retain one’s own sensibilities and ideologies.

The Point

We must recognize that every institution by its inherent design holds the danger of leading us back into the imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy that we are trying to free ourselves from. If anything institutions lure us into them with the promise of freedom and change and once we are there they bombard us with their ideologies. It is an attack on radicalism. The attack is not an overt one; it is a gentle touch that soothes and a sweet voice that hypnotize and convinces us to pledge our allegiance to the lies once more.

Unless we fundamentally change and radicalize the ideologies of our culture, we cannot expect our institutions to do anything more than replicate what has been. Traditional institutions, as they are, cannot save us. This is the lesson to be learned from DuBois’ work on the Talented Tenth and the revision of that theory which became the Guiding Hundredth. That the only thing that will result from elitist, fascist thoughts that are supported by the ideals of American Nationalism, is division, selfishness, and a stagnation in actual progress. If we, as a Black people, are to fight this battle, we are going to have to do it together: as equals, as comrades, as a people.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

References

DuBois, W.E.B. “The Talented Tenth Memorial Address.” 1948

Fanon, Frantz. “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness.” The Wretched of the Earth.

Marx, Karl. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.

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The Story
This tale begins with a revolution. Thirteen British colonies decided to reject the authority of Parliament and break from the empire. The motivation was a wave of liberal thinking that refused to support the aristocracies of Britain. This was the American Revolution which resulted in the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of the United States of America.
The ideology that fueled the revolution and set the tone for the national identity of the United States is best described by the philosophers of the time:
To understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and person, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.
A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprical, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal to one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will set one above another and confer on him by an evident and clear appointment, an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.
– John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government
But there is another and great distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
                     – Thomas Paine, Common Sense
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It was the revolutionaries hope to convince and assure the colonists that there was no reason that they should be held under the will of Great Britain. They sought to do so by dismantling the notion of aristocracy and the ‘God-given right to rule.’ In order to do so, they took a stance on society that suggested that all men are created equal by natural design. Once independence was achieved, the United States continued to develop their national identity according to the ideology that had won their independence. This is how we can see the appropriateness of the poem that was placed onto the Statue of Liberty:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– Emma Lazarus, New Colossus
It is then easy to see why the United States would create a national identity that is built on being a refuge for the oppressed. The United States fashioned itself as a global crusader of justice and equality.
Imperialist White-Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy
(4:26 – 8:41)

This term was coined by Bell Hooks to describe the interlocking systems of oppression that are all functioning simultaneously at all times. Hooks’ genius has offered us a completely revolutionary way to think about our place in society. Often we stratify the systems of oppression in society and choose to place those that directly affect us at the top of the list. However, at all times, all of these forms of oppression are at work and an individuals place in society is affected in some way by these systems. It is these systems that make up the framework for the America’s national identity. In order for any American to understand their station in this country, they must at all times consider the systems at work and the way that they affect every person living within them.

One of the most important things to remember when discussing American Nationalism is to remember that it is not actually about identity in the way we would usually think of it. Often we think of individuals as having identities. So we think about imperialism, white-supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy as aspects of individuals personalities or the things that certain individuals do. This is incorrect. These things are social systems.
The crucial thing to remember about patriarchy or any other social system is that it’s something that people participate in. It’s an arrangement of shared understandings and relationships that connect people to one another and something larger than themselves.
– Allan G. Johnson, Patriarchy, the System
American Nationalism is formed through social systems which require participation is significant because it then suggests that without social acceptance, these systems will fail. In order to gain social acceptance from individuals institutions, such as family, religion, academia, legal systems, and mass media, are infused with the characteristics of American Nationalism. Then the institutions convince individuals to believe in and buy into American Nationalism of their own free will.
The Problem

The fact that the United States sought to create a national identity was not the problem — that part is logical for a fledgling country. The problem is that America sought to force its identity upon its inhabitants and its ideology on the world. America required. It was originally thought that the United States would unify the oppressed peoples of the world and give them a place where they could be treated as human beings. It was expected that the people who fled to the United States would adopt the national identity in place of their own ethnic heritage.

The power of American Nationalism, for its defenders, is that it has enabled the “widening of we.” — This process allowed for the incorporation of not-quite-white, but not-quite-not-white Irish, Jewish, and Southern and eastern European immigrants into the canons of whiteness through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries making them Americans first in a legal and then in a cultural sense.
– Nikhil Pal Singh, Black is a Country
It was expected that there would be a universal American identity that all citizens would  want to ascribe to. Much like their British predecessors, the American forefathers never once considered that any ideology other than their own could be right. They believed that everyone would want to ascribe to their philosophies. When they didn’t; America forced them. The problem is that American nationalism is about domination: dominating the inhabitants, dominating the economic market, dominating women, dominating non-White races, and dominating foreign countries. America may have begun as a crusader of oppressed people but somewhere along the line America became the very thing that the original colonists had sought to oppose.
The Point
Any American seeking to explore the truth about who and where they are in this country must begin with an understanding of who this country is. This brief account of the development of American Nationalism is by no mans all encompassing; however it provides a rudimentary understanding of who America is and how we came to be who we are.
When we explore where we began and the intentions that we began with, we can then explore where we are and the huge disparity between the two. This contradiction in the American identity is crucial to understanding, on an individual level, why various individuals are where they are and why it seems that they can never escape the circumstances surrounding their situation. It is because despite what the American philosophy espouses about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness the truth is that the systems that are holding this country together are in complete opposition to those ideals. Those systems are about limitations, control, and reproduction of the system.
We have to constantly critique imperialist white-supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.
– Bell Hooks, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism
Americans in general are fairly ignorant in regards to international relations and, therefore, usually have no idea what America looks like in the eyes of the world. We assume — because we are socialized to — that America is a great world leader with global power that is undeniable. Perhaps at one time. What we have become is a global bully with delusions of grandeur. And much of what the individual feels on a personal level is a backlash of the pushing of an international and national agenda that America has to tell the world — including its own citizens — one thing and to behave as another. And every act of activism in this country is about holding America accountable for the promises that it has made; about reminding America of how far she has fallen from her admirable beginnings, in the hopes that she will see the error of her ways and return to those ambitious hopes upon which she was built.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man
References
Hooks, Bell. Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism. South End Press. February 2006.
Johnson, Allan G. Patriarchy, the System.
Paine, Thomas. Common Sense.
Lazarus, Emma. New Colossus.
Singh, Nikhil Pal. Black is a Country: race and the unfinished struggle for democracy. First Harvard University Press. 2004.