African-Americans as an Internal Colony: The Theory of Internal Colonialism Peter Bohmer
In the late 1960’s and 1970’s, anti
-racist analysis and activism increasingly worked from withina developing internal colonial framework. This framework converged with the long tradition of Black Nationalism, the movement for Black Power, and the growing radicalization of manyactivists. This led to a theory and practice that identified black people within the United States aspart of the Third World, requiring political and economic independence
a national liberationstruggle -- to end their oppression.While organizations such as the Black Panther Party, the Student Nonviolent CoordinatingCommittee (SNCC) after 1965, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers described theirideology and strategy as revolutionary nationalism, they implicitly subscribed to the theory of internal colonialism. These groups have been destroyed by severe repression and by internalweaknesses, but the theory of internal colonialism remains relevant.
Carmichael and Hamilton define racism as "the predication of decisions and policies onconsiderations of race for the purpose of subordinating a racial group and maintaining controlover that group." This theory uses the terms of racism, internal colonialism and institutionalracism interchangeably to focus on white and capitalist domination over all aspects of the livesof blacks. The theme of white domination and black subordination based on the unequaldistribution of political and economic power is pervasive. To Barrera, internal colonialism is:"a structured relationship of domination and subordination which are defined along ethnic and/orracial lines when the relationship is established or maintained to serve the interests of all or partof the dominant group." ..."in which the dominant and subordinate populations intermingle."These relations of dominance were established by force to secure the labor of colonized peoplefor the least desirable jobs, for the "dirty and servile" jobs that whites wish to avoid. The internal
colony continues to provides labor for the secondary labor market, as a ‘reserve army of labor’
and reproduces black subordination.
To Robert Allen, the basis of this racial system is:
"A historically evolved structure of inequality aimed at securing total control of the labor of thevictimized group. Racial oppression amounts to building an economic social and cultural wall
around a group of workers, to create in effect a labor concentration camp… Historically, the
structure evolved to meet the American capitalist system's need for a permanent reservoir of subordinated labor -- labor that could be locked into the worst jobs with lowest pay (or no pay inthe case of slaves); labor that could be readily mobilized and demobilized as the capitalist systemswings through its boom-recession economic cycle, labor that could be kept unorganized andused as pawns in the battles between employers and other workers."