Black history has essentially been centered on the struggle for equality and civil rights in America between black and white people. The relationship between blacks and whites has shifted to where blacks and whites interact but still show separation. The discrimination and oppression has allowed for many strategies for overcoming to arise. There has been many debates within the black community that shows the true objective of the black consciousness. Many leaders, activists, and movements have differing ways to achieve the empowerment of the community. The major divisions within the black political cultural are integrationists, nationalists, and transformationists. There are many activists and organizations today that use these ideologies.
Integrationists are seen as people who have tried to, “influence public opinion and mass behavior on issues of race by changing public policies, education, and cultural activity.” (2) One example of an integrationist movement is Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. This organization is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the country. This organization was founded to promote civil rights and equality for all. This movement I would consider to be integrationist because it tries to combat racism through policy and education. They believe that there should always be justice under the law and to ensure this they worked to get laws passed for the safety of all Americans. Many of the anti-racial profiling laws are a direct result of NAN’s continued fight for equality. As stated on their website, they are an organization that, “continues to impact public policy and ensure that government itself is held accountable to the law.” This proves that they are integrationists because they are changing public policy to influence equality. Another aspect of the organization that proves they are integrationist is their commitment to education. Education is one of the criteria for the integrationist ideology. NAN set the agenda to, “[improve] educational opportunities for all students and [close] the achievement gap for minority and underprivileged students.” To further advocate the need for education, NAN partnered with Education for a Better America to promote activities that will build an educational system for children in urban communities. National Action Network uses a non-violent way of advocating change. This is similar to the integrationist qualities of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many activists and leaders believe that peaceful policy protest and policy change is the best way to equality. The nationalists seem to have a varying opinion.
Based on the article by Marable, Nationalism is an ideology that seeks to, “overturn racial discrimination by building institutions controlled and owned by blacks, providing resources and services to the community.” (3) Nationalists also seem to have a separatist side which views the white community as, “racially monolithic and articulates racial politics in starkly confrontational and antagonistic overtones.” (3) A movement that uses this nationalist ideology is the Malcom X Grassroot movement. This movement has a mission to defend the human rights and promote self-determination within the black community. This idea of self-determination is a key factor in the comparison to nationalism. They believe in the uplifting of the black community by the black community. In the Malcom X Grassroot page their bio says, “We understand that the collective institutions of white-supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism have been at the root of our people’s oppression…without the power to determine our own lives, we will continue to fall victim to genocide.” They go on to promote the liberation of the black community, “by any means necessary”. This groups seems to have a “confrontational
and antagonistic overtone” (3) which is a prime aspect of the nationalist ideology.
Finally, Transformationists believe in the restructuring of power relations and authority. They basically seek the redistribution of resources and democratization of state power. Many integrationists and nationalists have moved towards the transformationist ideology for example, Malcom X. A major political figure today who follows the transformationist ideology today is presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. He is quoted in many speeches voicing is opinion on the unfair structure of power in America. Sanders has been clear is his belief that the U.S system is corrupt. He is quoted saying that the only way to end corruption is with a, “political revolution that harnesses the political power of millions of people marching on Washington… our job is to end that rigged economy and create an economy that works for working people,” Sanders told the students of Liberty University in a speech last September. Sanders wants to redistribute the power in the economy to make it fair for everyone. He wants to achieve this by making loans affordable and decreasing the power of big banks. Bernie Sanders is a great example of a tranformationist leader by is commitment to the expansion of rights to power.
Thinking about race as an ideology is a challenge that is continually being done today. Race in America can be shifted in various manners by studying the different ideologies. Each ideology brings aspects that will change the perspective of race in America. I personally do not believe that there can be another vision for democratic pluralism. I believe that based on the three ideologies the restructuring of race in America can only be achieved by integration, policy, and the restructuring of power. If anything the new vision should focus more on the restructuring of power within the rigged American system. This vision can only be achieved by electing more black officials to help change the system. Before a new vision can be created, we still need to focus on the success of building our community and restructuring power.