Struggling to Succeed: An Examination of Black Business

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If one were to take a look at the American business world today, much as if one were to look at it a hundred or more years ago, one fact would be easily noticeable. The majority of positions of power and authority in most American businesses are white males. In fact, white males outnumber all other races n these positions far more than they outnumber the actual populations of these other people in our country. Specifically, black men are sorely represented in executive positions in corporations and businesses across the board. So why is that? Is there some fundamental character of black people that keeps them from success? Is society still oppressive to blacks nearly forty years after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s? Actually, the answer lies somewhere in between. Joane Nagel states, “Ethnic Identity, then, is the result of a dialectical process involving internal and external opinions and processes, as well as the individual’s self-identification …” (240). So if blacks have an anti-business ethnicity, then the responsibility for that must be shared between blacks themselves and their oppressors. Similarly, upon examining Micahel Omi and Howard Winant’s definition of hegemony, which they assert has been the dominant mode of rule in the United States, wee see that “hegemony [is] always constituted by a combination of coercion and consent” (152). So any societal oppression that the white males in power are able to levy against blacks must be accepted by blacks in order to be effective. In other words, both blacks and their white oppressors must share the responsibility for the decided failure of black men (and women) to take their places as leaders in business.
The issue of black success in a corporate world such as America is best understood as one of culture and ethnicity. Generally, success in business demands a certain personality and level of ability, just as does success in politics. A quick look at the current status quo of power and authority in the business world will prove that. But existing societal conditions remnant of the evil specter of slavery have created a persona within the common black identity that is fundamentally opposed to business success. Nagel writes: “Culture is constructed … by the actions of individuals and groups and their interactions within the larger societ...

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...tion, and the economic status of a historically deprived people certainly won’t be an exception. As many successful black entrepreneurs have proven, it is very much possible for good businessmen to succeed greatly despite the opposition, and there is still plenty of room for success.

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Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the
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Walker, Juliet E. The History of Black Business in America.
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