By Michael Dawson
It is supremely ironic that Barack Obama, the candidate who seeks to bury race as an issue in this campaign season, owes his overwhelming support among blacks to the continued power of black nationalism. For a century and a half, black nationalism has provided the main ideological challenge to the liberal, social democratic sensibilities that have always dominated black politics.
It is likely that Senator Obama’s support among African Americans would have remained divided without the continued ideological influence of black nationalism.
First, we need some definitions. To start, let’s define black nationalism. Black nationalism is the political ideology which takes race as the fundamental dividing line in the U.S. Black nationalists believe that the first political, cultural, economic, and/or social priority is for black people to come together. Further, Black nationalism calls for various degrees of political, economic, cultural and/or social separation from white people. Race becomes a primary determinant for making political judgments.
Black nationalism is not equivalent to black solidarity. While black nationalists call for black solidarity, black people coming togther to defend each other and engage in collective action, so do black activists of other ideologies. Black liberals such as Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., all called for black people to come together to struggle for justice but were not black nationalists. (Continue Reading…)