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Black separatism is a separatist political movement that seeks separate economic and cultural development for those of African descent in societies, particularly in the United States. Black separatism is a subcategory of black nationalism, stemming from the idea of racial solidarity, and implies that blacks should organize themselves on the basis of their common experience of oppression as a result of their blackness, culture, and African heritage. Black separatism in its purest form, as a subcategory of black nationalism, asserts that blacks and whites ideally should form two independent nations. Black separatists also often seek their original cultural homeland. Black separatists generally think that black people are hindered in their advancement in a society dominated by a white majority.
Black nationalism vs. black separatism
There are similarities between black nationalism and black separatism. They both aim for the rights of blacks, but there are a few differences. All black separatists are black nationalists, but not all black nationalists are black separatists. Black separatists believe that black people should be physically separated from other races, primarily whites; black separatists would want a separate nation for black people. This is slightly different from black nationalists because black nationalists don't always believe in a physical separation of black people. In some form, black nationalists do believe in separation, but not physical separation. Black nationalists focus more on black pride, justice, and identity. Their belief is that blacks should be proud of their own skin, heritage, and beauty. They also believe that there should be justice for black people especially in America. Examples of black nationalist organizations include the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party. A specific example of a separatist movement is the Pan-Africanism movement.
In his discussion of black nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the historian Wilson Jeremiah Moses observes that "black separatism, or self-containment, which in its extreme form advocated the perpetual physical separation of the races, usually referred only to a simple institutional separatism, or the desire to see black people making independent efforts to sustain themselves in a proven hostile environment."
Scholars Talmadge Anderson and James Stewart further make a distinction between the "classical version of Black separatism advocated by Booker T. Washington" and "modern separatist ideology." They observe that "Washington's accommodationist advice" at the end of the nineteenth century "was for Blacks not to agitate for social, intellectual, and professional equality with Whites." By contrast, they observe, "contemporary separatists exhort Blacks not only to equal Whites but to surpass them as a tribute to and redemption of their African heritage." Anderson and Stewart add, moreover, that in general "modern black separatism is difficult to define because of its similarity to black nationalism."
Indeed, black separatism's specific goals were historically in flux and varied from group to group. Martin Delany in the 19th century and Marcus Garvey in the 1920s outspokenly called for African Americans to return to Africa, by moving to Liberia. Benjamin "Pap" Singleton looked to form separatist colonies in the American West. The Nation of Islam calls for several independent black states on American soil. More mainstream views within black separatism hold that black people would be better served by schools and businesses exclusively for black people, and by local black politicians and police.
- Afrocentric education
- Cultural nationalism
- Economic nationalism
- List of organizations designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups
- Religious nationalism
- White separatism
- Anderson, Talmadge; Stewart, James B. (2007), Introduction to African American studies: Transdisciplinary Approaches and Implications, Baltimore: Inprint, ISBN 978-1-58073-039-6.
- Hall, Raymond L. (1978), Black Separatism in the United States, University Press of New England.
- Malcolm X (1964), The Ballot or the Bullet, April 4, 1964.
- Moses, Wilson Jeremiah (1988), The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-520639-5.
- Jenkins, B. L., & Phillis, S. (1976). Black separatism: a bibliography. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.
- Hall, R. L. (1977). Black separatism and social reality: rhetoric and reason. New York: Pergamon Press.
- Hall, R. L. (1978). Black separatism in the United States. Hanover, N.H.: Published for Dartmouth College by the University Press of New England.
- Bell, H. H., Holly, J. T., & Harris, J. D. (1970). Black separatism and the Caribbean, 1860. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Browne, R. S., & Vernon, R. (1968). On black separatism. New York: Pathfinder Press.