Page 4-Friday, May 23, 1980-The Michigan Daily
Blacks need new definition of power
Central to the present-day absence of Black
political direction and progressive leadership is the
bankruptcy of ideas. The great majority of black
elected and appointed officials have little to no con-
ception of whateffective political power is. They do
not understand the realities behind the mythology of
American politics and the process of decision-
making. Indeed, most black leaders do not even un-
derstand the nature of power itself.
What is power? Most American political scientists
(white and black) would argue that power is the
ability to make decisions which affect our daily lives.
Within every society, various ethnic, economic,
social and/or political forces compete against each
SECTORS OF THE black community's leadership
have adopted this definition of power. The leaders of
the N.A.A.C.P. and Urban League, for instance,
believe themselves to be the representative of our
group's best interests. Through a maze of legal
struggles and coordinated activity with "liberal"
white politicians, corporate executives and religious
leaders, the goals of the black community are
As we all must know, this definition of power is
woefully inadequate. First, most decisions that have
a major impact upon our material and social con-
By Manning Marable
ditions of black life and labor are not made in the
public sphere. The members of Congress, in-
dividually, have .very little structural power. The
President of the United States is hardly the "most
powerful man in the U.S.", although many people
who vote believe that he is. Second, power usually
assumes the form of a "non-decision" rather than a
"decision." In other words, the ability to keep certain
ideas or reforms off the public agenda (for example,
free public health care) rather than exercising
authority in the open.
This understanding of power was held by many
Black Power advocates and black nationalists in the
1960s. As Stokely Carmichael and Charles V.
Hamilton defined it, Black Power was "full par-
ticipation in the decision-making processes affecting
the lives of black people, and recognition of the vir-
tues in themselves as Black people." Black Power
was a call "for black people to consolidate behind
their own, so that they can bargain from a position of
strength." This meant that black activists had to
agitate both within the streets and in the legislatures,
pressing for a unity along race lines to promote the
programmatic reforms articulated by Carmichael,
Hamilton, and a host of others. Issues that were held
in a "non-decision category", such as affirmative ac-
tion in jobs for blacks, were thrust into the public
The pursuit of effective black power must include
the moral and political decision to say "no." Black
people, individually and collectively, must constan-
tly reassess and examine their relationship to the
"logic" of the dominant white economic, political and
cultural institutions of the total society. Any strategy
for Black Power must include the recognition that
power begins with the process of controlling our own
minds, and rejecting those norms and ideals which
cut against our ultimate interests.
Voter registration campaigns, elections, public in-
terest groups and demonstrations are all important
vehicles for social change, but their mere existence
does not create or convey power from one group to
another. Before we can chart a course for effective
Black Power, we must dare to be original. Before we
can change or challenge the world, we must first
change ourselves. The pursuit of power begins from
Manning Marable is a professor of
political economy and history at Cornell Univer-
sity's Africana Studies Center.
The view from the bar
be stronger now
CANADA IS recuperating after Quebecers
voted a resounding "no" to Tuesday's
proposal to start Quebec on the road to sovereignty.
With the wounds now opened, the signs are en-
couraging that the country's healing process may
lead to a stronger Canada.
Although Canadians have wisely refrained from
gloating over the victory, many have interpreted
the results as a strong show of patriotism. With the
exception of Quebec's nationalists-some of whom
have been bitterly protesting their defeat-the
country has a tentative feeling of being united.
The vote was a strong one. Close to 90 per cent of
Quebec's voters turned out at the polls. The 58-42
per cent split indicates thatno more than half of the
Quebec French-speaking majority voted in favor of
On Tuesday, voters were not actually deciding on
the question of whether to pull away from Canada.
Had the vote been favorable, Quebec Premier Rene
Levesque would have begun to negotiate sovereign-
ty for Quebec. Before the province actually with-
drew he had promised Quebecers there would be
another vote. Despite this promise and despite his
emotional appeals, Quebec voters'decided to give
Canada another chance to meet their needs.
Prime Minister Trudeau is using the results of
Tuesday's election as a springboard for a nation-
wide constitutional conference. If Canada is wise it
will not misinterpret the Quebec vote as a sign that
change isn't wanted. Instead, the country must see
the vote as one of confidence in Canada's ability to
meet Quebec's needs when the country drafts a
Conversation overheard at
corner bar in Cleveland . . . and
Buffalo, Philadelphia, Des
Moines and Portland:
"WeH, the high-priced
freeloaders have done it, they've
walked off their jobs, if you can
call 'em jobs. Shit, now we're
gonna have to watch the hockey
"Yeah, well I would have
walked off too if I was being
"SCREWED! At an average of
$150,000 a year? What are you
talking about? "
(A swig of beer, drag on a
cigarette.) "I don't know, it just
seems kind of unfair for the
owners to make a player stay
with the team six years before he
can join another team on his own
free will. And now they want to
make teams that do hire them
give away one of their regular
players. It just seems like kind of
a circus. Why not give t em the
freedom to decide the ir own
futures like any other worker in-
this country ..v."
"They're baseball players!
They've gotbeverything they
should want right now-in fact,
they're already pampered. I say
cut their salaries by half, and if
they don't want.to play there are
plenty of Cubans around who
could knock their socks off any
day of the week. And for reason-
ble salaries-$15,000, maybe 20.
Let the high priced pansies like
Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan
sell dishwashers .. ."
"AND WHAT WILL the owners
do when the Cubans want more
"They won't." (Huge swig of
beer, Tiparillo in the empty
glass of ice water.)
"You're always talking about
how great free enterprise is, in
the American way, freedom and
justice for all.- Why should a
By Steve Hook
baseball player ne owned by his
boss for half his career, or more?
Why should an owner be free to
move his players around at his
own free will, and...
stay in, and all that money they
get for food every day-it's up to
almost 30 bucks now, and the
owners give them over 12 bucks a
week just to do their laundry."
"The point is, baseball players
should be like any other workers
in this country-free to earn
(Interrupted swig, belch.) whatever wages their industry
"Because this is baseball! allows. And they're not wrecking
"AND BASEBALL is exempt the game, attendance is way up,
from ..." television stations are showing
"Hell yes, dummy, it's the moe an more s he
national pastime. You bet it's pennant races have been pretty
sup palayers en Ioy wpa ing damn exciting the past few years.
upplaersenjyedplaing Why should the players be shuf--
baseball, it was a fun game then edsaround like sheep.. s
.. they didn't worry about pen- "Because this is baseball, bone
sions and fancy 'basic head "(Arrival of Schiltz, exit to
"Even though they were being men's room.)
treated like slaves."
(ORDER PLACED for two Steve Hook is co-editor of
more glasses of Schlitz.) "Slaves the Daily's new student
my butt. Look at the hotels they edition.