#BlackLivesMatter needs a class analysis alongside its race analysis. Nothing has driven this home more to me than being in Ghana and seeing African owned shops, African owned banks, African owned corporations, African judges, African police, and an African president and yet the masses of people there are still poor, still struggling, and still exploited and oppressed. It’s extremely common in Accra to see huge, huge houses with humming generators behind six foot high walls topped with broken glass and barbed wire, houses owned by wealthy Africans. Next to this ostentatious wealth you’ll see rows upon rows of reclaimed shipping containers turned into homes, or concrete huts with sheet metal roofs, often without running water or consistent electricity, housing families of four, five, or more poor Africans. What does this obvious inequality tell you?
If the solution to African oppression in the US is just more and better integration, more representation in the justice system, in business, and in government, why is the situation in Ghana what it is? Or alternatively, if the solution is separate Black owned and led institutions, created for us and by us, then WTF Ghana?
Black business will not save us, y’all. Black capitalism will not save us. A Black president damn sure didn’t save us. Neither did having Black congress people, Black cops, or Black judges, no matter how many of them we find and raise up. Black nationalism isn’t going to save us either, unless the ideology is tied to an understanding of class, capitalism, and colonization.
There’s no such thing as true equality under capitalism. There’s no such thing as capitalism without exploitation. Capitalism can not function without structural oppression. White supremacy and anti-black and anti-indigenous racism were all created with the express purpose of creating a justification for capitalist exploitation. Why? Because Africans and Indigenous folks had the land and the resources, and capitalists needed both to build their empires. They justified theft and genocide by dehumanizing us and it’s STILL happening. We will never be free under capitalism.
If the structure of a system is broken, it’s gonna stay broken no matter how many Black faces you plug into it. And it’s important to understand that there are African (Black) bourgeois just as surely as there are European (white) ones – ask poor Africans – and they have a vested interest in the survival of capitalism and the continued oppression of all of the rest us. The more they steal from us, the less power we have to stop them, the more wealth they have. It’s as simple as that.
Building the power of the African masses both on the continent and in the diaspora is the only thing that’s going to save us. Dismantling capitalism and pushing for socialism in the US and on the African continent – an economic system where every single person is truly considered equal, where the masses of people own their labor, resources, and means of production, and where no land or nation can be exploited for the benefit of a callous few – is what’s going to get us free.