ABSTRACT

One significant diff erence between the two projects was the black nationalists’ insistence that struggles for equality were always organized around the racial group, and subsequently, equality was the property of racial groups. Rather than use good black citizenship to make claims for additional rights, the black nationalists used black authenticity to make claims for political autonomy. Black authenticity produced a form of black citizenship that emphasized the importance of the racial group at the expense of national citizenship. For example, the Nation of Islam felt that inclusion into American culture required blacks to be subservient to an inferior European/western culture responsible for colonialism, social vice, and deception. They rejected American citizenship and Christianity because they considered them white cultural practices. They wanted whites to fear them because they wanted whites, especially the police and social workers, to stop breaking up black families through the systems of foster care and imprisonment. Consequently, the black nationalist project was more of a project of nation building than a project of citizenship.