Black Power, the seemingly omnipresent term that is ever-so-often referenced when one deals with the topic of Black equality in the U.S. While progress, or at least the illusion of progress, has occurred over the past century, many of the issues that continue to plague the Black (as well as other minority) communities have yet to be truly addressed. The dark cloud of rampant individual racism may have passed from a general perspective, but many sociologists, including Stokely Carmichael; the author of “Black Power: the Politics of Liberation in America”, have and continue to argue that the oppressive hand of “institutional racism” still holds down the Black community from making any true progress.
Carmichael views America as a system that refuses to acknowledge the issue of race in an honest fashion. Because the holders of the country’s power, Whites, have no sense of urgency in the matter, it is comfortable taking its time in addressing such “inconvenient” problems. When the current power structure leaves those at the top of it in a particularly comfortable state, the desire to make changes that would only allow for others to have equal chance to take such a seat is unlikely.
This state of push-and-pull is far from one that would allow any sort of true social progress for Blacks, and when the power holding demographic does see fit to establish a state that coincides with the favor of the minority, it is rarely for the express purpose of allowing further rights for the population of people that they hold such power over. In all likelihood, as discussed by Carmichael and his colleagues, the power structure is merely making effort in order to adjust for a less submissive subservient population. While claims such as this are easy to make, the true intentions of the populace’s majority are difficult to predict in discussions of such matters.
This question of intentions is one that is most apparent in the case of forming coalitions with potential allies for the cause of progress in Black liberation. On the surface, the stances of many groups create the appearance that they would be effective allies in the fight for social reform for Blacks. Except, as pointed out by Carmichael, not only might the apparent overlap of interest between Blacks and groups such as liberal left-wing Democrats be nothing more than illusory in nature, but there are a myriad of other important variables to contend with when picking practical, trustworthy allies.
One might argue that being extremely picky in the manner with which Blacks should choose their allies will only do harm by slowing the growth and potential of their cause in the long run, but in the context of Carmichael’s ideas, not only is picking the right allies important, but perhaps absolutely necessary. His idea makes sense, for gains made as a coalition would be distributed through the coalition as a whole, and not just Blacks. This distribution of social “profits” is where the importance of good allies...