A-Z of Black Radicalism

E is for Economics

Make it Plain is exploring Black Radicalism with Kehinde Andrews exploring a new letter each day. All of these are sourced from Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century, proceeds of which go to the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity There are some limited suggested resources below but please send in suggestions for more, these are just a few to start with

Economics lies at the root of why we were enslaved, colonised and continue to be oppressed. Capitalism has produced untold wealth off the brutal genocide and exploitation of the underdeveloped world. White supremacy is not primarily about culture or psychology it is embedded into the global economy, a hierarchy with White and the top and Black at the bottom with steps in between. Economics is central to our problem and therefore must be a major part of our solution. But we need to rethink the question of the economy, rather than replicate the evils of what has gone before.

One of the most popular Black power campaigns are efforts to keep the ‘Black pound circling’ in our communities. Undoubtedly, one of sources of inequality in the West is that we spend money with businesses who take the money directly out of the community. This is one of the aspects of colonialism that we see play out in the West. So of course we should make efforts to build and support Black owned businesses and to maintain money and jobs in the communities where live. Black America alone has a buying power of over $1.4 billion annually and if more of this money was used to build Black communities then this could only be a good thing. This idea of what W.E.B Dubois called the ‘economic nation within a nation’ has a long history. But as with many good ideas this is definitely not a radical one.

Wealth produced by any of us, anywhere in this system, is as a result of the same process that is oppressing us. The increased buying power of Black communities globally is because of the (small) but emerging Black middle class. I’ll use myself as an example to be critical. I earn more money than my parents and I can try my best to invest this in Black businesses. But my primary income comes from the state, which is drawn from taxes, which are largely produced off the economic system that extracts wealth by exploiting Africa and the underdeveloped world. As long as the wealth we are producing comes from this system it will always be part of the problem. Black capitalism, is still capitalism. We should support the development of Black businesses, Black middles classes, Black financial institutions etc, but it must in broader service of revolutionary goals.

The radical economics of Black radicalism involve the liberation of Africa so that we can create a new economic vision that is based on sharing the abundant resources and providing for everyone. We should be under no illusion, doing this would destroy the current economic order that relies on extracting African resources for next to nothing. We should be building our economic base in order to overturn this wicked system, not to enjoy its poisoned fruits.


Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton Black Power

Kwame Nkrumah Africa Must Unite

Walter Rodney How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

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