Week 14: Black Economics [UPDATE: CLASS CANCELLED 5/5]

Jacob Lawrence (1917 – 2000) “The Carpenters” 1946


First, a few housekeeping details:

  • ASSIGNMENTS UPDATE: the second written assignment has been dropped: we will now only have an online final exam in exam week. To make up for this, whichever of the assessments (first paper or final) you have a higher grade on will now be count for more than the other one.
  • Remember that this class doesn’t use Blackboard. Check the course website every week for updates and detailed reading instructions which will appear on this page
  • Weekly discussion post update: Remember to keep up with your comments/replies!

Quick highlights from Week 12 (4/21)’s class:

  • Guest lecture by Mut Nfr KaRa, MSW on culturally responsive responses to school counseling
  • Reviewed the second half of Chapter 10 on Black Psychology in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies
  • Lecture notes posted in the usual spot
  • Musical intro: sneak peek of Makeda Kumasi’s “Maat.” Look for her upcoming release (9) A Spoken Word Experience
  • Musical break: Pharaoh Sanders “Hum Allah” Listen on YouTube

For Wednesday 5/5, (Week 14), read all of chapter 8 (Black Economics) in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies 

What to read for:


RESPOND to one idea in the textbook chapter or the PDF and DISCUSS it with classmates and myself with the comment board at the bottom of this post

ATTEND the weekly Zoom session @ 6 PM EST on Wednesday May 5

General reading strategies:

  • Underline/highlight key points in the text
  • Use the reading questions at the back of chapters to focus you: read those first
  • Try to understand the definitions of the key concepts listed at the back of the chapter
  • Make a note to ask the instructor to clarify anything you don’t understand
  • Note key issues, approaches, and dilemmas/challenges Dr. Karenga outlines

Discussion questions

  • See chapter/essay highlights above

Additional Resources:

What’s Next?


Comments on posts:

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post for the “Leave a Comment” button below. Here’s how it works: you can use this to discuss points raised here.  A few points:

  • Your first comment will have to be approved by me: after that, you can comment without approval
  • Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
  • You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
  • Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates
  • The comments section closes 14 days after a post goes live

To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either the reading or my lecture using some of the questions raised or conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. You can also ask a question–for me or others–but that doesn’t count toward your comment and reply needed for the grade. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have two weeks to write those two comments for credit.


11 thoughts on “Week 14: Black Economics [UPDATE: CLASS CANCELLED 5/5]

  1. Dr. Karenga sets out Harold Cruse’s model of “domestic colonialism” to describe Black-White relations in a historical context of colonialism and to propose an analogy to the economic condition of a “ghetto.” If colonialism is the “domination and exploitation of a people and territory by a distant power…[then] domestic colonialism is domination and exploitation of a people and territory of another group, ‘distant,’ but within the same country” (333). Harold Cruse, Stokely Carmichael, and Charles Hamilton employed the analogy, arguing that “a domestic colony” is characterized by economic exploitation, a captive economy, exploitable labor force, and external control. Importantly, according to Dr. Karenga, psychological subjugation is also used to inflict humiliation and “subordination, inferior status in society” (333). Scholars of rhetorics describe this as a “self-sealing narrative,” an endless, self-perpetuating cycle, in this case, because the “colonizers” intend that to be the case.

    I think redlining and the exploitative practices that sprang up in its wake are examples of this colonizing phenomenon. Since the Great Depression, redlining became a common method of steering minority renters and home purchasers to neighborhoods deemed the riskiest and therefore subject to higher interest rates and other extortive credit conditions. As everyone in this class already knows, the strategy got its name from the treatment of local property maps assembled from demographic data and property evaluations provided by local brokers and banks. The maps then created self-fulfilling prophecies (I think this is Carmichael and Hamilton’s point). The maps categorized certain properties as poor credit risks, which in turn discouraged local investment in those neighborhoods. For those families who did invest in lower-rated districts, the returns would trail those of mostly white families purchasing in the higher-rated sectors. Also, in NYC, exploitative landlords (or corporate hedge funds) today buy buildings at bargain prices to gentrify neighborhoods, driving out the original tenants, or they subdivide units and allow them to fall into disrepair, while charging hefty rents, subsidized by tax dollars. This whole tradition has carried into the twenty-first century with new strategies for denying mortgages or finding ways to charge higher fees and interest rates to those who are deemed “higher credit risks.” And does anyone remember the 2008 “mortgage crisis”? The Obama Administration’ Justice Department settled multiple lawsuits worth hundreds of millions against banks that were compelled to admit that they discriminated against minority homeowners by marketing products with higher interest rates and fees than those offered to white borrowers meeting equivalent credit standards.The current near-zero interest rates allow corporate real estate funds and investors (“colonizers”) to continue to buy up massive amounts of property, driving up housing demand, leading to much higher rents, and further neglect of marginalized neighborhoods, whose rents also rise as a result of this pernicious demand-supply cycle. The Covid pandemic has added another layer of disaster to NYC housing. Read here for NYU Furman Center’s analysis of NYC housing arrears: https://furmancenter.org/thestoop/entry/rent-payments-in-a-pandemic-analysis-of-affordable-housing-in-new-york-city

    This whole tradition of redlining and lending discrimination not only increases the wealth gap, but also means that certain neighborhoods continue to have fewer services—like pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and grocery stores, not to mention adequate schools, fire stations, hospitals. As far as I can see, these patterns are similar to what Dr. Karenga and the other scholars he cites were talking about, in part, as ghettos. If we look at the redlining maps starting from the 1930s and ‘40s, we can see how, in spite of successful lawsuits against these practices, many of these neighborhoods still face structural discrimination today. Check out this project, “Mapping Inequality,” to see historic redlining and compare conditions today: https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=3/41.245/-105.469

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is ridiculous how even decades later these neighborhoods still face structural discrimination today. It is unfortunate that no matter how many things change, certain things stay the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Domestic colonialism has always and will be an exploitation against black people. In black neighborhoods property taxes increase, there are no funds for schools, and crime is always high. The only time the government pays attention to black neighborhoods is during election and that is only when they are making false promises. In NYC you have landlords and certain corporations who are gentrifying black neighborhoods driving out the original tenants and charging a ridiculous amount for rent. This continuation of colonizers buying property and gentrifying neighborhoods looks like it won’t stop anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so true—New York is one of the most segregated cities around. I’ve been reading Nikole Hannah-Jones these last few years and she writes powerfully about the totally unequal allocation of resources between public schools (and charter schools especially, as our guest speaker also explained). Also, the current near-zero interest rates benefit those who have access to credit–like landlords and “property developers.”


  3. when i was reading this chapter i was thinking on this time. we still living segregation in USA. we feel the difference when we go to the doctors, schools and also the are we decide to live.. when your skin color is brown ( dark) no matter what nationality you have, you still not have the white privilege. black and latino community are been discriminated for the past decade and it looks like nothing is going to change . everything has been changed for bad not for good and i always think. what is going to happen for the future generation in a few years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Brigida,
      Thank you for sharing that comment and your experience. I’m sure it definitely feels hopeless sometimes when you are still in this day and age experiencing discrimination because of your skin when you’re doing something as simple as going to the doctor for care, or attending school to learn. This shouldn’t be happening in any scenario, but it hits harder to hear about it in these most basic of places.
      I do have a lot of faith in Generation Z who will one day be setting policy and teaching and providing health care for the next generations – they seem to be a lot more free of race/religion/gender bias than, say, the Boomer generation and older are/were. I think the advent of social media, for all the harm it can also do, has brought a broader consciousness to the youth of this country and has served as a way to offset anything their (perhaps) prejudiced parents or immediate communities are trying to teach them…in the past people only had their families and immediate communities to rely on for a picture of the world around them. Now, there is so much access to people all over the world at their fingertips, and so many other cultures and opinions. I think that’s one of the only positive things about social media and it gives me hope that what you’ve experienced will be less and less of a reality for our children and grandchildren and so on…at least I really hope so…anyway, thank you for sharing your experience with us and I’m sorry you’ve dealt with things like this… sending you love and peace.

      – Julie W.


    • This is so true Brigida. As a young black woman during this time it’s so hard and heartbreaking to see this issue getting worse day by day. It crazy how you can’t even walk outside without someone looking at you a certain way because of our skin color but this all comes down to the people who believe we’re in a white privileged country. They need to understand that we’re all capable of the same thing they are and despite a hint of melanin in our skin we are all equal and should be treated with the same privileges as they do.


  4. In the Solutions section of this chapter, of the three offered (government, private sector, and the Black community itself), there is much text dedicated to the Black community as a solution. While I wholeheartedly believe that every person should have investment in and involvement with their own best interests and personal growth, and in this case there isn’t much choice but to find ways within the community to look after the community, the government is where the majority of the onus for this equalizing re-structuring should be placed. The government has the power, whether they’ll admit it or not, to make it so that either billionaires and corporations are heavily taxed so that they’re still richer than most everyone else, but no one in this country is starving or homeless OR they can merely do what FDR did after the crash in ’29 – they can print more money (after all, we no longer operate on the “gold standard” so money is entirely theoretical at this point anyway) and then freeze pricing so there would be no inflation, and they can do this to the same end result of ensuring that there is no poverty like we see in this country. There is so much money in this country and we would never have been in the position we are without the unpaid labor done by the African American enslaved prior to the industrial revolution. Yet many of the descendants of these people, the very bedrock of this nation’s wealth and position, still live in the “Underclass” (page 347-349), forgotten (or, more accurately, ignored). As Dr. Karenga very throughly and clearly states (page 352) aside from literal reparations, there should also be a large budget dedicated to affordable and quality housing, food programs, job training, free and easy access to quality education, after school programs, free therapy, free health care. I know it can sound like a liberal/socialist wish list – but this is absolutely possible if the government willed it to be. And the government can be moved by mass action, it can be influenced by organized protest. At least, that is my belief and my sincerest hope.

    Dr. Karenga also points out the responsibility of the private sector in curing this long-standing internal bias – even with good educations, Black employees have often been found to make less than their White counterparts. So the ground-up work of ensuring that a Black child receives the same level of education as a White child is not even enough, because once we step into the corporate world, there’s a whole new set of secret rules and biases to combat. I think the government also has some jurisdiction here and there should be some kind of regulatory bureau under the Executive Branch dedicated to ensuring fair hiring and employment practices (and if there is already something like this, it needs to be revamped and/or better run or funded).

    – Julie W.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know that there is not a specific discussion to talk about but I would like to talk about Amos Wilson or moreover his discovery. He discovered that Black people have been pressured to only develop the right side of the brain. The side that deals with music and art. How they were not developing there left side of their brain because white people are afraid of intelectual black people. Through life they have only been rewarded for using there right side of the brain. I would like to discuss this. What Wilson says is a factor of why black people haven’t developed their brain but when I start to think about it is it the main source. As human beings and as children we learn from the people that surround us. So even if they had used their right side their left side would still develop because they are using their analytical skills or left brain when they are surrounded by people. So now a day with this diverse population for us to still be seeing it is kind of strange. The probably do have a developed left brain but we don’t have a way to classify it or distinguish that it is developed because maybe they are using European methods or methods that would show that they did not have a developed left brain. This could have been the case in earlier year but for it to be seen now it doesn’t really make sense. Sorry just a thought I had.


  6. In Chapter 8, I basically learning about how African Americans were struggling economically. In the section, “Link Between Politics and Economics” it talks about how power and wealth goes hand in hand with each other. For example if one has power, there’s a chance for you to have wealth but if you don’t have power it’s much harder to have wealth. This was a problem for African Americans because people didn’t believe in them and their capabilities because of the color of their skin, so they were looked down on and diminished of their ideas and identity. Due to the color of their skin, most people didn’t think Blacks could be successful in wealth and power because of the lifestyle they grew up in such as poverty and lack of education.


  7. When I read this chapter I learned more about Black economics being the study of the processes of manufacturing, exchanging, and consuming goods and services, but it may also refer to issues such as poverty, wealth, housing, health, jobs, gender, and education. Economically, African-American ghettos had a good start. Colonialism was one of the factors and ghettoization. Colonialism is domination and exploitation of a people and territory by a distant power. Despite the difference between the classical colony and the ghetto, there are enough significant similarities to justify labeling the ghetto an integral colony, according to Stokely Carmicheal and Charles Hamilton.Employment status is another economic way African American scholars theorized Black ghetto communities in the U.S. society. This is an economic disadvantage of the African American community, there are higher unemployment rates for Blacks than Whites continued.


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