After the colonial struggles against European rule in Africa, a majority of the Africans who were able to survive the brutal system of colonialism were the ones who were subservient and benefited from its reign. Kwame Nkrumah who was once President over Ghana after independence struggles with the British, coined the phrase Neo-Colonialism as a way of describing a class of Africans who were put in place by the same colonial powers to maintain that power and control over the said country— a way to rule indirectly instead of directly, which caused the majority Africans who were being exploited and brutalized to resist and fight back creating numerous liberation struggles across the continent. These developments of Neo-colonialism gave rise to a number of privileged classes that adopted a false reality of power and status placing them above other Working-Class Africans. In Nkrumah’s book ~Class Struggle In Africa, he says “ a class is nothing more than the sum total of individuals bound together by certain interests which as a class they try to preserve and protect.”
These strategic attempts by the ruling class (the ones in power) at maintaining power and authority over land, resources, and people were not only practiced in Africa but were implemented wherever Colonized people were. To expose the narrow agendas of the Black Bourgeoisie/Neo-Colonialist (sell-outs, coons, uncle tomes, house negro’s whatever name fits your liking) and their stagnate reforms, their attempts at preserving Capitalism, Domestic and International Imperialism then we must develop a concrete analysis of the Black Petty Bourgeoisie/ Neo-Colonialist here in the Empire (the USA).
It is very important that we visit the civil rights movements of the ’60s and the Black Power movement of the ’70s. It’s also imperative we understand colonized peoples’ power relation to this institution built off our oppression and genocide. As chattel slavery began to evolve and the plantations started to become a social and economic organization, the lives of slaves and masters started to intertwine in a system of social relationships. Professor and Chairman of the Department of Sociology at Howard University E.Franklin Frazier say “The relations between whites and blacks thus came to be regulated by a complex system of social rituals and etiquette permitting a maximum degree of intimacy while maintaining the complete subordination of black people.” He goes further to make the point that, “The greater the integration of the slaves into the activities and family life of their white masters, the more nearly their behavior and ideals approximated those of the whites.” What Professor Frazier is describing is the sociological behavior, the attitudes, and values of the Black bourgeoisie, a sector that has had an influence on the Black nation for decades.
These ideas of influence that the Black bourgeoisie/ Black Elite (the intelligentsia, professional class, those who have positions of power and have a certain status) hold in their possession have the ability to amplify and change the material conditions of the colonized Black masses and come from the advances of the civil rights movements, which played a monumental role in advancing the lives of Black people. In practice, however, these advancements were mainly for the Black middle-class.
These advancements in class and some social policies created space for advocacy for political representation within the capitalist system, therefore leaving the power relations between the Black working-class and the institutions somewhat unchanged. When we look at colonialism in Africa and the Black Bourgeoisie in the U.S Empire, I think of Ndugu Hamad’s (African Marxist) observation of the African Mis-Leadership class that must be considered. He says, “because of their narrow world outlook, the outlook of petty commodity producer, these leaders understood only colonialism but not imperialism.” He claimed this Mis-leadership of the African bourgeoisie dictatorship had led African countries into Neo-colonialism. While Hamad is specifically referring to reality in Africa, we too as colonized Africans in the Empire face these contradictions. We say Black people all across this country are colonial subjects because of the power relations we are bound to – colonial subjects have their political decisions made for them by colonial masters (in our case the state). Colonial subjects have no rights. Like the mis-leadership in Africa that allows colonial powers to remain at play, so does the mis-leadership here.
If we observe the situation during the uprisings we have seen a number of Black elected officials and Black elite voice their opinions on how they were dissatisfied with how the Black-working class was handling the movement in the streets. The Mayor of Atlanta, a majority Black city, Keisha Lance Bottoms brought the troops into her city and even went a step further to criticize the protesters by saying they were dishonoring the memory of MLK. Not only is Bottoms aligning with the state, but she is also criminalizing Black voices who are resisting the system. Susan Rice, a member of the National Urban League, went a step further in her attempts to divert attention away from the resistance struggle to spew lines of lies right out of the Republican playbook, claiming we had to investigate to see if Russians had something to do with the recent surge of violence. These are examples of how the Black bourgeoisie has always been used by the ruling class in an attempt to delay the revolution taking place in the streets.