Black Folks aint Got No Money for Bootstraps: The Black Capitalist Dead End

The African American economic condition deteriorates by the year, but that doesn’t stop the ‘bootstrappers’ from talking trash. “The bootstraps mythology -sometimes under the shorthand, ‘Do for Self’ – implicitly or explicitly urges Black people to forego making demands of government, as if that amounts to ‘begging the white man’ for something.”

 

By: Glenn Ford

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“What binds the variations on the ‘bootstrap’ theme together, is an essential refusal to challenge the capitalist system.”

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The two devastating recessions of the last decade have had catastrophic effects on Black economic prospects. Yet, despite the monstrous setbacks of recent years and the general failure to bridge the racial wage and wealth gap over the last three decades, there still exists a strong current of Black political thought that insists African Americans can pull themselves and the rest of the race up by their financial bootstraps, through hard work and pooling of collective resources. Some of these arguments are unashamedly Black capitalist; others preach a brand of communal partnerships among Black entrepreneurs and consumers that attempts to make the entire Black community a kind of capitalist engine of self-help. What binds the variations on the “bootstrap” theme together, is an essential refusal to challenge the capitalist system. The belief is that Black “buying power” or race-based investment schemes will allow Black folks to rise from the bottom of the American economic barrel.

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