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African-Americans as an Internal Colony: The Theory of Internal Colonialism

African-Americans as an Internal Colony: The Theory of Internal Colonialism

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Published by Rbg Street Scholar
ALSO SEE: How Black Awakening in Capitalist America laid the foundation for a New Internal Colonialism Theory Pinderhughes, Charles(2010) http://www.scribd.com/doc/61172044/How-Black-Awakening-in-Capitalist-America-laid-the-foundation-for-a-New-Internal-Colonialism-Theory-Pinderhughes-Charles-2010
ALSO SEE: How Black Awakening in Capitalist America laid the foundation for a New Internal Colonialism Theory Pinderhughes, Charles(2010) http://www.scribd.com/doc/61172044/How-Black-Awakening-in-Capitalist-America-laid-the-foundation-for-a-New-Internal-Colonialism-Theory-Pinderhughes-Charles-2010

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Published by: Rbg Street Scholar on Apr 17, 2012
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 African-Americans as an Internal Colony: The Theory of Internal Colonialism Peter Bohmer 
 African-Americans as an Internal Colony:The Theory of Internal Colonialism
Text by Peter BohmerDecember 20, 1998
Introduction
The theory of internal colonialism attempts to expose, analyze and critique the history of racism.It explains the oppression of African-Americans and other people of color in the United States,particularly people of Mexican and Puerto Rican background, Native Americans and African-Americans, as internalized colonies, and includes a strategy for the elimination of racism.The intellectual origin of this theory was the written and spoken condemnation of Europeancolonialism and the putting forward of an anti-colonial national liberation strategy by KwameNkrumah, and most influentially, Frantz Fanon. Early proponents of this theory in the UnitedStates such as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Turé), were inspired by anti-colonialand anti-imperialist movements in the Third World, and their victories in Ghana, Cuba andAlgeria. They decided that the critique of colonialism and neo-colonialism was the most suitableone for understanding the oppression of blacks and other people of color in the United States.They found relevant the analysis of the domination of oppressed people based on the violence of the colonizer, the exploitation of their land, labor and natural resources, and the systematicattempt to destroy the culture of non-European people in the search for profits.
 
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 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.
The Theory
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."
 
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 African-Americans as an Internal Colony: The Theory of Internal Colonialism Peter Bohmer 
The culture, the State, and particularly the ghetto constitute the racial system. The ghettosubstitutes for the Third World nation in this theory. The ghetto depends on small and largecapitalist enterprises, which are controlled by whites, for jobs and for purchasing most goods andservices. Its inhabitants must sell their labor power and buy necessary commodities at inflatedprices from these enterprises. Loans or other credit to finance economic development are eithernot available or available only at interest rates well above the market rate. The police, schools,social service agencies and all levels of government exercise political control over the ghettoresidents. The government distributes public services in a racially discriminatory manner. Localpoliticians may be residents of the community but they have little power and they serve the needsof outside forces. Ghettos also shield whites from severe social problems and much of the cost of racial capitalism.The dominant culture and segregated living patterns produce a white nationality, where
‘American’ means ‘white American’, where white people are considered the norm and black 
people are considered different, unfamiliar and not quite equal. The destructive psychologicaleffects of the racist culture cause an internalized oppression within black people, includingfeelings of inferiority, and antagonism toward other black people.Integration is not the solution in this framework. Rather the ghetto is seen as the site of oppression but simultaneously the potential base for black resistance and power. A key part of this strategy is building a self-conscious culture of resistance from existing black culture.The State maintains white capitalist domination in two main ways. It represses demands forblack power and the self-determination but sponsors social programs, such as the war on poverty,and affirmative action to co-opt political challenges.The theory of internal colonialism (like the class-based theory) sees capitalism as the root of racial oppression and the accumulation of capital as a key determinant of earnings, profits andeconomic change. Unlike the orthodox Marxist approach, nationality or race relations are notreducible to class relations and the class struggle. Rather, ones race is central to thedetermination of ones identity, ones consciousness, ones work and ones life. The underlyingeconomic interests between black and white workers is not assumed to be the same as each other,nor is it believed that they will eventually forge a unified class, which will lead the anti-capitalistmovements. The focus in internal colonialism is on racial oppression itself, rather than on racialdivision as merely an instrument of capitalist control and as an impediment to working classunity.

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