People are working overtime to make sure that Black people are the face of empire. After a while, some will realize how myopic a pursuit “representation” is in contrast to institutional capacity (i.e., power). However, given the current and salient neoliberal logics regarding what passes for “activism”, this may be a long-time in coming and will likely result from the continued delegitimization of the Black elite. I do question whether the same mental energies that went into rationalizing acquisitiveness and (gaudy) representation as a pathway towards group power will be easily redirected towards more productive paths.
The notion that Africans/Blacks in the US can advance by asserting their “Americanness” & denying their “Africanness” is an old idea, visible in the poetry of Phillis Wheatley in the 18th Century. Wheatley and many who would come after her reflect Cruse’s integrationist stream.
Cruse also acknowledged another stream, the Black nationalist stream, which many say begins with Martin Delany, but I think saw its inception within the traditions of insurrection, maroonage, and the earliest examples of repatriation with Paul Cuffe in the early 19th Century.
When one considers the intellectual legacies of integrationism and Black nationalism, they seem irreconcilable. Assimilation results in African people’s subordination to white domination. Whereas nationalism rejects the legitimacy of African life under alien subjugation.
The history of these streams remains unfinished, but as ever, the integrationist stream is presented as the singular expression of Black political thought, while the nationalist stream is decried as folly. However, all evidence suggests that integrationism is not possible, nor is capable of solving all of the problems of our people–problems that result from our lack of control over our lives.