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Title of Course: Philosophy 101: "Black Race Matters" Instructor: Mba Mbulu

Textbook: Essays by Mba Mbulu are provided online.

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Read the following Essay. Think about the questions below and explore them more fully.
(1) What is the author talking about when he refers to "holding Us back"?
(2) Do you agree with the author when he says "in a capitalist economy, being willing to work hard does not mean you will be able to provide adequately for yourself and your loved ones"?
(3) The author gives an example of how self interest works. Do you think it is a valid example?
(4) Do you agree with the author that "Fighting racism and inequality is not an issue of individuals, but of nations of people"?
(5) Are you driven by self interest?

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Class #5 "Self Interest"

To achieve Black Nationhood We must be able to recognize and overcome those individuals with shortcomings that hinder Our progress. In an earlier essay, I identified some of those shortcomings as (1) self interest (2) a little mind (3) an intimidated spirit and (4) a lazy body. Individuals who are dominated by either or all of these shortcomings would not be so critical if so many of them were not found among Our so-called "leaders" and "better educated" and financially "secure" ranks. But that is where most of them are found, and they have to be overcome in one way or another.
These type individuals are actually the ones who are "holding Us back" because they misrepresent the interests of Black People, possess no self-respect or genuine pride in their heritage, and accept all types of humiliations in return for rewards and "recognition" from the status quo. This column will help Us understand why it is better to let them "do their thing" (the white thing) rather than try to force them to face up to their obligations and act in a manner that is respectful to themselves and beneficial to the mass of Black People.
Individuals who are driven by self interest believe that their individual well being is more important than the well being of the community, and that each member of the community who is willing to work hard will be able to provide adequately for themselves and their loved ones. There are two problems with this train of thought.

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Number one, in most cases the individuals who are proponents of this belief think they are better equipped to "make it" than the average Black individual: they think they are better educated, more "refined", more at ease in a white environment; in a word, exactly what white people are looking for. They are, in fact, not better educated but better conditioned to submit, not more refined but more detached from their own culture and essence, and not more at ease in a white environment but more at ease as a subordinate to white power. They are losers and chinches, and We, Black People, are better off without them. Let the white world have them.
The second problem with this train of thought is the fact that, in a capitalist economy, being willing to work hard does not mean you will be able to provide adequately for yourself and your loved ones. Such would be the case in a community-oriented economy because everyone would have the opportunity to contribute to his/her fullest, but the lack of opportunity is part and parcel of a capitalist economy. Additionally, a capitalist economy is not designed to reward workers equitably, it is designed to reward the rich and powerful disproportionately. Thus, by design, a large number of persons in a capitalist structure will not be given the opportunity to work a decent job, and those who are given the opportunity will not, for the most part, be given their fair share of the rewards. The Blacks who insist otherwise are doing so because they think they can swim even if most of the rest of Us go under. What they are too miseducated to realize is that, among the lot of Us, they are the least capable swimmers of all.
In the April 4, 1997 edition of the Washington Post newspaper, an article states that the director of media relations for the Department of Transportation in 1991, a Black man whose name I will omit, "regularly accompanied his boss to meetings. But en route to one meeting, he was stopped by a security guard and asked to identify himself. He finally was waved through, but he says he has no doubt why, despite his suit and briefcase and DOT Secretary Samuel K. Skinner at his side, he was stopped at the door:" He is Black, he's about 6-1, and he had lines cut in the back of his head. "Starting that day, he let the lines grow out.
"[He] had learned a lesson that's been absorbed by many Black professionals: In the (mostly white) workplace, habits and lifestyles that are distinctly African American may send an unintended message. . . Thus, if getting ahead equates with fitting in, the astute employee learns to seamlessly shift gears between home and office."

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My response is that that professional did not learn the lesson he should have learned. The astute employee would have learned the necessity of establishing a whole new set of rules. If you are going to wave the white flag over something as basic as a haircut, how will you have the heart to stand up for anything that really gets white peoples' blood flowing? That gentleman and other Black professionals like him are not "astute" employees; instead, they represent a group of self interested individuals who will shamelessly submit to demeaning terms even when they realize that later Black professionals will be expected to adhere to those same demeaning standards. They are not "astute" enough to realize that if you capitulate when you are right, you deserve to be stepped on and humiliated. So they capitulate, they throw in the towel. To them, getting stepped on and humiliated is all right as long as they get paid enough money.
When you are dealing with people who are simple minded enough to see a haircut as a threat, you need to draw a clear line early. Fighting racism and inequality is not an issue of individuals, but of nations of people. Several "undereducated" Blacks who work in low level jobs already understand this truth and defend their right to wear African braids, mustaches and goatees, for example. But professional Blacks, those who are most highly "educated," can't quite seem to get to that.
It is natural that persons be self-interested, but it is necessary that self interest be recognized within the context of the overall good. The individual can best serve his/her interests by making sure that the interests of all of Us are equitably addressed. Those who are opposed to seeing self interest within this context are of no benefit to Black People. They should be de-prioritized, brushed to the side and warned to stay out of Our affairs. Otherwise, We must pronounce sentence on them. They shall have lived with health, or they shall have lived.

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