Going It Alone: The Case for Black American Independence (Part 1)



Black American history, as it pertains to the issue of statehood and self-determination, can be aptly characterized as a patchwork of missed opportunities, dashed hopes and incredible promise. Black Americans exist in the US, in multiple ways, as the loudest living contradiction to the American narrative. A narrative that tells of distal peoples voluntarily traversing both ocean and sea to lay their claim to a hitherto unbeknownst world. A world where equality and liberty, if not immediately granted, could be had with the right mix of diligence and determination. All groups in America possess this common narrative, which aids in forming the American multicultural identity. This identity in turn binds each, otherwise fragmented group into a nation giving impetuous to the creation of the nation-state we know today as the United States of America.

One can easily argue, that Black Americans have been, from the very outset of the American adventure, excluded from this crucial narrative. This fact serves to permanently relegate Black Americans as a group, to a field of distinction apart from its other supposedly co-equal counterparts. Black Americans did not come to America of their own accord in order to seek their fortunes as most Americans at one point have. Black Americans were brought to the United States and the Americas at large, against their own volition, to bolster the power structure of another independent actor. This fact creates a pervasive schism in the historical ties between Black Americans and the wider multicultural America. This schism has served to keep the interests of Black America and the wider multicultural democracy largely separate and along divergent tracks. One need only look at the disparate social indicators to find already present in America, a polarization between the Black American population and that of the dominant racial demographic.

Though united in name and polity—social statistics, culture, and history give credence to the concept of Black divergence in identity from the wider American discourse. History stands replete with examples of nations who have sought removal from political power structures as a consequence of the breakdown in legitimacy that results from pervasive disparities in identification with the larger political community of which they exist. For the purpose of this study, comparative analysis will be confined to four instances of political dissolution: The Irish Republican Revolution of 1912-1923, the American independence struggle between 1765-1789, the semi-autonomous state of Taiwan from 1947-1949 and lastly, but largely, Zionism between 1933-1948.

This study contends to identify the empirical roadblocks to Black American independence, and put forth equally pragmatic solutions to negotiate those obstacles. It will also underline the compelling tradition of Black American pursuit of autonomy, rather than inclusion, which has falsely and suspiciously emerged as the traditional political mission of Black Americans. This paper is in many ways a continuation of Lee Harris’s work, Political Autonomy As A Form Of Reparations To Black Americans, 29 S.U.L. Rev. 25 (2001), which exists as one exception to the serious attention deficit the Black American community exhibits in regards to the topic of self-determination and independence. Where the author in that work makes a case for the narrow question of reparations with a general prescription of political autonomy, this work seeks to unearth the mechanics from which political autonomy can be achieved. It will field both established international relations concepts as well as novel answers to the unique political challenges that Black Americans face in achieving political independence. It will also convey the clear socioeconomic basis for the pursuit of independence and why Black Americans, now in the year 2016, should consider going it alone, as the surest path towards their age-old quest for autonomy and universal freedom.


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