Roadblocks to Independence
The biggest hindrance to Black American independence is the spatial distribution of the Black population within America. The United States’ brand of democracy, despite all its regarded virtues, is not so much ‘majority rule, minority rights’ as it is ‘demographic might makes right, minorities may exist’. Black American’s lacking any contiguous demographic might, must be content with merely existing all throughout the United States. Due to the group’s lack of demographic concentration anywhere, they lack overwhelming authority everywhere, and as a result must pander to other groups in order to gain the least of political concessions. Black Americans have attempted to concentrate in urban enclaves in hopes to dominate their own lives from the municipal or local level. This strategy has largely failed as the policies Black Americans require to permanently transform and control their sociopolitical and economic lives are largely made at the state and federal levels.
Examples of demographic fractionalization and its disparate effects on groups in democratic societies are bounteous. One analogous case is that of the Jewish population in Europe, particularly Germany and to a lesser extent the U.K. and France, where through democratic means a scattered population of Jewish ancestry experienced government sanctioned persecution and often outright expulsion. Another instance is that of the Chinese American experience in the 1820’s-1880’s. While the Chinese were instrumental in building the railroads and infrastructure that connected the continental United States, because of their inability to concentrate their population in order to generate demographic favor over any contiguous geographic territory, they were subject to institutionalized racism from both private institutions and the government alike.
Minorities experiencing institutionalized persecution from the democratic process is not the rule however. The phenomena just manifests itself with more probability to those minorities that disperse upon arrival to democratic societies. For instance, Cuban-American immigrants serve as a quintessential example of how minority populations can gain political power in democratic societies in order to safeguard themselves from the pernicious whims of the majority. Rather than fanning out into the wider continental America, Cubans have concentrated the overwhelming majority of their numbers in the city of Miami, where they exercise much control over local politics and to a disproportionate extent state and federal politics through the lobbying machine they have cultivated there.
Just over half of the roughly forty-two million Black Americans live inside an area where the group enjoys its highest level of demographic concentration. The contiguous geographic areas where the majority of Blacks currently reside, and from which Blacks possess the most historical rights in America, encompass a crescent like swath of territory from East Texas to Maryland touching Alabama, Mississippi, The District of Columbia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana, dubbed the black-belt. 57% of all Black Americans reside in this black-belt.
The other half of the Black population exist in states and city centers where their prospects for ever becoming a demographic majority are slim. States like California, Florida and Texas; cities like Detroit, Chicago, and New York City, not only pull vital votes and capital away from the black-belt but because Blacks lack real demographic importance in those zones, they field some of the most socio-politically and economically inhospitable areas for Blacks in the nation. Black Americans lack political significance due to their demographic weakness and are thus disproportionately exposed to abuse and exploitation in these areas.