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Wall St. and Business Wednesdays: Black Entrepreneur Burying Integration? by Sam Francis


One aspect of white-black relations since the end of the "civil rights movement" that no one hears much about is the black retreat from the forced integration that both the movement and the federal government demanded.

As the illusion of "color-blindness" began to vanish and an explicitly black racial consciousness emerged, many blacks began to question why mixing with whites in schools, housing and education was supposed to be the pinnacle of their lives.

Now a black businessman in Philadelphia has a plan that may scrap the whole concept of racial integration.

The businessman is Kenny Gamble, well known in entertainment circles as a songwriter and music entrepreneur, who became a Black Muslim in 1975 and long before that began questioning the assumptions of racial integration. Mr. Gamble argues that prior to the civil rights movement, as the Philadelphia Daily News reported recently, "there were thriving African-American communities where 'all kinds of people' came to enjoy black food, music and clubs." [Gamble: Revive black areas run by, for blacks |Music mogul pushing vision in South Philly, By Earni Young, Philadelphia Daily News Apr. 17, 2003]

The effect of the civil rights movement and the integration it imposed was that black customers and clients of the small, black-owned businesses in black areas went elsewhere—to the bigger and better-stocked chain stores owned by whites.

The black businesses dried up, and the areas where they once flourished died.

Mr. Gamble means to fix that. His plan involves buying up property in the inner cities (which he has already started doing at his own expense) and to "focus on reviving distinctly African-American neighborhoods with better housing while empowering their residents to control their neighborhood's economy. And restore the mix of incomes in the community that existed before integration." As for integration itself: "Forget integration."

It's not entirely clear how he plans to translate the properties he's buying into successful small businesses, but in general he may be on to something. His concept abandons liberal egalitarianism as well as government planning and concentrates on building independent social institutions. A "mix of incomes" means different classes living in the same community, and as Mr. Gamble says, "Our plan is about rebuilding the family. It's about educating our children and their families. It's about private and economic development and supporting local leadership."

Instead of silly neo-conservative slogans about "enterprise zones" created by government-enforced privileges, Mr. Gamble is suggesting the restoration of real communities maintained by private efforts.

There happen to be two small problems with his ideas, however.

Problem one is that they're probably illegal—he plans to sell his properties only to blacks; that's the whole point—and Problem Two is that it violates every liberal preconception about race and society you can name.

One of the "achievements" of the civil rights movement was to outlaw discrimination in buying and selling, which is why white areas turned into black areas and whites left the cities almost entirely. The law works both ways, and blacks can't discriminate against whites in selling property either, but that's exactly what Mr. Gamble seems to have in mind. "I want to see us owning the hotels, restaurants and businesses in our own community," he told the News.

But the legal problem is nothing compared to the crunching of ideological toes his plan involves. Don DeMarco, a director of the Fund for an Open Society, which remains committed to integration, says, "I don't see what he's doing as a commitment to segregation, but regardless of what he's committed to, it promotes segregation." Mr. Gamble can probably expect that reaction from most liberals and many conservatives, since what lies behind his whole plan is the reality of race and racial consciousness.

When Mr. Gamble talks about blacks, it's "we" and "us," and one of his explicit goals is to halt the process of "gentrification" through which whites are beginning to take back the cities from which integration drove them.

The legal problems with Mr. Gamble's plans could easily be fixed—by getting rid of the phony constitutional concepts that justices like Earl Warren and William Brennan foisted off on the country—but getting rid of liberal delusions won't be so simple. Liberal ideology now stands guard around a set of material interests with immense investments in its falsehoods, in addition to its deeply rooted delusions among those who still believe in it.

Mr. Gamble's ideas may slow down "gentrification" and the return of white yuppies to the cities their ancestors created, but the more important effect is that they may also kick the stool from underneath the racial liberalism that helped wreck entire cities as well as the Constitution in the first place.

By championing a concept that rejects liberalism and accepts the reality of race, class and community, Mr. Gamble may be pushing both blacks and whites down a path where liberals and pseudo-conservatives don't want either race to go.


Sam Francis is a nationally syndicated columnist. He can be e-mailed at: sam@samfrancis.net

Note: This article was published in 2003

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

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