Rethinking Nationalism: Seeking Answers for Future Black Voices

Article excerpt

All of the organizations I am aware of that conduct statistical analyses of demographic information indicate that the United States is rapid y becoming a more diverse place (e.g.U.S. Census, 2000). Many of the major newspapers such as the Washington Post on March 7, 2003, seemed eager to print stories about Hispanics "overtaking" Blacks as the nation's largest "minority." As 1 read statistical analyses and newspaper articles about the new demographics, and as I travel to conferences such as the Color Lines Conference at Harvard University this past fall, I see a trend unfolding on the academic front. I call the trend Black "de-nationalization." The trend involves the simultaneous action of increasing nationalism among non-Black groups (such as Latinos) amid the decreasing sense of nationalism in the Black community.

Cultural nationalism includes a group having the sense that they represent a "nation" or a unified "nation that is within a nation." Nationalists believe that their particular group should behave in ways that indicate the following: (1) group solidarity and group betterment, and (2) an unspoken acknowledgement among group members that they are in competition with other groups. As the nation diversifies, incoming groups are quickly realizing that they can benefit from group nationalism. For example Japanese people, Chinese people, and other groups of people from the Far East come to the United States and are classified as "Asians." Guatemalans, Hondurans and Puerto Ricans come to the United States and are classified as "Hispanics" or "Latinos" Once people are "grouped up," they then become, for all practical purposes, "teams." The teams fight for resources and power by lobbying Congress, building institutions in their communities, and by teaching their children how to compete with other groups for resources and power.

An example of group nationalism among Blacks was seen in the 1960s movement. Though not all Blacks were involved in the movement, there was enough involvement to maintain a sentiment of Black nationalism. …