Black Businesses: Repackaging Exploitation

Zone of Non-being

Of all racial and/or ethnic groups in the United States, black people have the worst economic outcomes. A litany of statistics indicate that blacks are the most likely to be unemployed, underemployed, and living below the poverty line.

The diagnosis of these problems often leads to a prescription for black-owned businesses. From this perspective, white people control the wealth necessary for survival. The economic fate of black folks, then, depends upon the objectives of another group. Black people are forced to beg for vanishing jobs with stagnant wages. As Dr. Boyce Watkins declares, black people must “escape the corporate plantation” by going into business themselves.

While I am sympathetic to this argument, it fails to grasp the structure of capitalism. In capitalist societies, businesses are hierarchical arrangements that exploit the labor power of those at the bottom for profit. That stated, the problem is not simply

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