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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Struggling To Succeed: An Examination Of Black Business - 1564 words
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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 society" (251).
The historical actions of whites (slavery and intense psychological degredation) have caused blacks to take on a cultural identity which is itself an obstacle to success, and black-white interaction (which has always been largely shaped and informed by a sense of racism) in such a savage, cutthroat capitalist terrain as America merely perpetuates and aggravates the condition. "Every society has individuals who are better positioned to take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities, because of their relative access to opportunity structures, their greater native ability, or both. Entrepreneurs who successfully act on available opportunities move economies and societies to new stages of development" (Green and Pryde, 13). White males have made undeniably sure that they have always been the ones better positioned by oppressing blacks to the point where they form an inferiority-complex which far removes blacks from any opportunity to access any significant opportunity structures. Of course, strong individuals who do not acquiesce to this kind of oppression are able to achieve individual success, sometimes on levels rivaling their white counterparts, but the grater majority of blacks have fallen prey to such a powerful technique, which has led to the current status of black business - quite a dismal one.
In order for one to succeed in any situation, business or otherwise, two things are necessary. Both an individual's personal ability to succeed, as a result of personality, training, willpower and determination, etc., and favorable circumstances or situational conditions are necessary ingredients of success. Since these factors, internal and external respectively, are both the sum the actions and interactions of blacks and whites, according to Nagel's model of cultural identity, it follows suit that the adverse situations which white oppression has placed blacks in must be countermanded by a strong personal ability to succeed on the part of the oppressed blacks. But what kinds of traits form that personal ability, and why don't more blacks have them? While the subject of exactly what makes a person successful is highly elusive and as yet largely undiscovered, most would agree that there are certain elements that greatly enhance, if not outright constitute, the ability to succeed. These elements, whether actually present in black individuals or not, are part of a "toolkit" for success.
Each element corresponds to a different tool, and if too many tools are missing, then success becomes at best difficult to achieve.Similarly, Nagel describes the concept of a cultural "shopping cart," complete with individual items which are the elements of a cultural identity. She explains, ".. we construct culture by picking and choosing items from the shelves of the past and present" (250). The "tools" for success are some of the items that black would-be entrepreneurs can select as part of their "shopping cart" of cultural identity. However, since whites have already fabricated their own identity for blacks, one that presumably lacks these tools, a mere acceptance by blacks of their cultural identities from whites almost certainly would lead to imminent failure. In the case of a historically oppressed people such as African Americans, this inferior identity has become a weapon of devastating success wielded by greedy whites, unwilling to share the limited, if sweet, spoils of entrepreneurial success.
An irony lies in the fact that the successfulness of the weapon depends upon hegemony; that is to say that although whites offer the inferior identity to blacks, blacks must accept the identity for it to affect them. Since hegemony is a combined sum of "coercion and consent" (Omi and Winant, 152), it represents a 5050 split of responsibility for its effects. So then what is the identity that whites have created for blacks? It is one that lacks the proper education, self-assuredness, sufficient economic resources, and social power necessary to succeed in a business-oriented world. By systematically attacking these foundations within the canonic successful black entrepreneurexecutive, whites have uprooted any chances for blacks to succeed. They have taken these "items" from the "shelves" readily available to many blacks, and these blacks consequently have a hard time formulating the identity of a successful businessman.
Most would agree that a key element of success in any venture in today's complex and constantly changing world is education. A quick view of the statistical success of college graduates versus high school graduates without a degree makes that fact undeniably clear. So when we find that 19.5% of black adults lack a high school diploma (as compared to 7.9% of whites) and that only 17.8% of blacks aged 29 and over possess a college degree (versus 34% of whites), it comes as no surprise that black men face a bleak prospect for success (Education Attainment in the United States, 1). But who is to blame for the rarity of highly educated blacks? It might be easy to blame blacks themselves. After all, most people tend to see success in America as something to be attained by due hard work and persistence, and in a completely free society where everyone has equal access to the resources necessary to make that hard work pay off, that would not be too far fetched. But ours is not such a society, and there is no such equal access to these resources for blacks.
"Historically, it was long considered rebellious for African Americans to obtain education. It was argued that they had no need for any formal education to work out in the fields, which was their rightful place" (Walker, 79). Even as recently as the 1960's, there was a flagrant refusal by whites to allow blacks to enter college, and even today it remains questionable as to whether black students are truly given an equal opportunity to receive higher education. Even if any direct intervention by whites is ignored, it cannot be questioned that the economic status of poorer blacks living in urban areas often forces them to send their children to sub-standard schools, while wealthier whites ship their children off to illustrious private academies or some of the more well-respected public elementary and secondary schools, which are usually found in upper-class neighborhoods. For such disadvantaged black students, any equal opportunity for college education is an almost guaranteed impossibility. This is part of the social "package" of black "anti-business persona".
Nagel describes ethnicity as being a social device; she asserts that "the boundaries and meanings attached to ethnic groups reflect pure social constructions" (259). So the social conditions of poverty and discrimination that exist for blacks help to form their ethnically ascribed lack of education.While education is important, it is not the sole constituent of success; neither is it the only thing that whites have sought to exclude from blacks. Equally important is self-confidence. It has long been a basic tenant of white enslavement tactics that if you can take a man's self-confidence from him, you can subjugate him. Nagel explains: "The expropriation and subversion of negative hegemonic ethnic definitions and institutions is an important way that culture is used in ethnic mobilization around the world" (257). Once again, hegemony is in effect here.
And as always, hegemony signals a shared blame. Although it is widely known that a systematic attack on an individual's self-confidence is one of the most difficult forms of psychological manipulation to overco ...
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