Strategies of Resistance Dimensions of Action

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Strategies of Resistance

Dimensions of Action

  1. Degree of challenge to dominant groups: accommodationist, moderate, reformist, militant, revolutionary

  2. Integrationism vs separatism: whether the minority group stresses equality and mixing with the dominant group, or separation and difference

Conservative/Radical Dimension

  1. Accommodationist = cooperating with the dominant group

  2. Moderate/Reformist= seeking change while not challenging those in power

  3. Radical/ Militant = seeking larger changes in a confrontational, aggressive manner

  4. Revolutionary/Violent = seeking to overthrow the present system, by violence if necessary

Integrationist vs. Separatist

  1. Integrationist = Races should mix, minorities should intermingle with majority, everyone should be treated the same (egalitarian)

  2. Assimilationist = Minorities should adopt majority culture, blend into the larger group


  1. Separatist = Races should be separate, minorities should keep in their own groups

  2. Nationalist (in this context)= Minorities should have separate culture, distinct political base

American Indians

  1. After 1870, US policy was generally forced assimilation, denial of language, religion, culture.

  2. As a reaction, American Indian movements tend to have anti-assimilation, self-determination themes

  3. Vary in degree of militancy, from individual assimilation to legal challenges to disruptive protests

Black Assimilation & Separatism –1-

  1. African Americans share most culture with European Americans, have always had both impulses in their movements

  2. Assimilationist: stress common cultural heritage, desire for citizenship, share "American values."

  3. Separatist: stress value of own culture, look back to homeland (Africa), stress economic development, political self-determination.

Black assimilation & separation –2-

  1. Whites forced separation, segregation on Blacks 1870-1970 (and after), so integration could be a radical demand

  2. Or accept segregation and demand self-determination can also be radical

  3. Separatism generally stronger among African Americans when Whites are more hostile; integration and assimilation are strong when times seem hopeful

Black Integrationists & Separatists


  1. Booker T. Washington

  2. 1895-1915

  3. Accommodationist self-improvement

  4. The Atlanta Compromise” accepts segregation in exchange for economic development money

  5. Official Black”: all White money channeled through him

  6. Retrospective view of him changes with the times

Militant Separatists

Reparations, Migration

  1. Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, Black nationalist, demanded $40 billion in reparations for slavery, preached God is Black, involved in "African Fever", organized International Migration Society for a dollar-a-month plan to pay for passage to Liberia; not feasible, but facilitated passage of 500+ to Liberia 1895-1896

Marcus Garvey

  1. Universal Negro Improvement Association, “Back to Africa” movement

  2. 1-2 million followers

  3. Black businesses, Black Star steamship line

  4. Black religious symbols: Black Madonna, Black Jesus.

  5. Ideology of moving to Africa, some negotiations with Liberia, nothing came of it

  6. Convicted of mail fraud in 1922; imprisoned then deported from US.

  7. Threats to Whites of Black Nationalism

Nation of Islam (Black Muslims)

  1. Elijah Muhammad 1920s – 1975. Nation of Islam.

  2. Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) 1952-1965. Nation of Islam. (Son of Malcolm Little, a Garveyite minister)

  3. Louis Farrakhan 1975- Nation of Islam (separatist splinter after W. Deen Muhammad led most of NOI into mainstream non-racial Islam)

  4. NOTE: NOI and Black Muslims are NOT the same as Muslims in general

Some Militant Integrationists

W.E.B. DuBois

  1. Critical of Booker Washington

  2. Integration, equality, “talented tenth”

  3. A sociologist; “double consciousness”

  4. Founds Niagra Movement 1905

  5. Founds NAACP, 1909

  6. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

  7. Intended to involve Whites

  8. Also some cultural nationalist impulses

Many others

  1. Ida B. Wells-Barnett Anti-lynching campaign. Demonstrates that lynching is a political tool. Inflammatory rhetoric.

  2. Thomas Fortune, William Trotter ran Black newspapers, advocated equality

  3. Weldon Johnson, leader of NAACP in the 1920s

A. Philip Randolph

  1. 1920s - 1940s.

  2. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

  3. Strong Black union, political platform

  4. Randolph a labor organizer, not a porter

  5. Socialist, integrationist: unite the working class

  6. But militant for Black political strength, equality

  7. March on Washington 1941

Class Issues

  1. Whites divided by class: elites vs. working class

  2. So are Blacks. Historically 10% free Blacks educated, while 90% slave were legally required to be illiterate (some slaves got illegal educations)

  3. Blacks tend to unity due to common oppression by Whites, but at the same time are divided by class & education

Class Tensions: ongoing dilemmas

  1. African American activists are generally from better-off and more educated backgrounds

  2. Feel common sympathy with the poor, in some cases come from similar origins

  3. But also feel critical of lower class lifestyles, feel “pulled down” by actions of others, feel stereotyped by Whites as “all Blacks are alike”

  4. Politicized lower-class Blacks feel class antagonisms, critiques of privilege, elitism of better-off Blacks

Resources & Capacities

  1. Groups resist with the tools at hand

  2. Lobbying, petitions if government is receptive

  3. Electoral if you can vote

  4. Disruptive protests if you have the numbers

  5. Violent if you think you can win or have nothing to lose

  6. Weighing themselves against the opposition

Cognitive Liberation

  1. There is something wrong, something is unjust

  2. It is possible to do something about this, change is possible

Something is wrong

  1. Injustice frame = the present situation is wrong, immoral, unjust

  2. Internalized oppression” = you accept subordinate position, believe it is right

  3. God’s will

  4. Your individual failure

  5. System attribution: the problem is social or political

Something can & should be done

  1. Belief that change is possible is essential for action

  2. Tied to perception of possibilities

  3. Example of others’ success

  4. There is also action in the face of certain failure when the alternative seems worse than death or loss.

  5. I’ll know I tried

  6. I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” Zapata.

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