How America Underdeveloped the Hood
Imperialists require great lies to justify to those who don’t have a solid understanding of what they are and how they work their vile deeds. One of these lies is that the toiling and exploited masses of internal and external colonies have somehow benefited from being subject to imperialist processes. Revisionists (modern and classical) use this logic to justify social imperialist China’s picking up the role of Europe in continuing to exploit and loot Africa and other countries in Asia under the auspices of “development”. A key understanding for any Maoist working in the imperialist center is that the hoods and barrios and rural areas where Indigenous, New Afrikan and Chicano people live in great or majority numbers have been subject to a cold and callous underdevelopment process. There is no benefit to the masses from being exploited. The hood is poor, just like Africa is poor, because it benefits the imperialists to maintain this poverty. Walter Rodney’s most widely known work, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, lays bare the process by which European imperialists not only robbed Africa blind but intentionally, through this process of robbing it blind, left it underdeveloped and in the clutches of neocolonial governments that continued to aid and abet this process of looting. As a result, the masses of these countries, the masses who extract, process and refine this wealth, suffer while the imperialists and their lackies get rich. We can apply this analysis to internal colonies in the United States as well.
Urban concentrations of African descended people in the USA have been present since before the US existed. Black labor, both enslaved and “free” in both Northern and Southern cities was a major contributor to the prosperity of these cities. Charleston, New Orleans, Richmond, Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston, and other cities along the Eastern Seaboard all were reliant upon the labor of Africans who worked as blacksmiths, coopers, porters, stevedores, pilots, bricklayers, and every other proletarian job that was needed. After slavery, Black people fled to cities to escape depredations in the Southern rural areas, this process saw the Black populations of cities such as Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit double and triple with the promises of some semblance of equality and decent pay. Once they got there they found themselves at the mercy of white supremacist unions, harassment, legalized discrimination and riots which maintained black labor as the very very bottom of the labor scale. Yet, white labor and capitalists alike continued to profit from the exploitation of black labor. Extremely low wages for black labor which did the most dangerous and necessary jobs that white labor refused to do served, in Du Bois’ terms, as a “mud sill” which enabled the wages of white labor to grow and the pockets of white capitalists to remain fat. The white “middle class” AKA aristocracy of labor was built on the unthanked and nearly unpaid labor of black people. In short, this was superexploitation and underdevelopment of the New Afrikan nation. On the other hand, this bolstered our revolutionary sentiment, because we were unable to be co-opted and bought out. Those at the very bottom who are maintained there by brute, cross-class force by an oppressor nation are not sentimentalists or blinded en masse by the lies of empire. Forced maintenance as class and social inferior breeds resentment, resentment breeds revolution. This is a law of history.
American underdevelopment also took the form of post-slavery mass incarceration of Black people both North and South. This was a means by which white industrialists and plantation owners could secure for themselves a near free labor force. If you were black and you were caught without being tied to some plantation, you were arrested and thrown on a chain gang. In Tennessee you’d be sent down a mine, in Mississippi you’d be sent to a plantation. This gutted black communities of labor that could be used to develop the foundations of our own self determination as a nation. We couldn’t develop ourselves and our nation because we were too busy developing the settler nation, building its railroads, chopping its timber, and bringing in its crops. As a result of this continued mass incarceration process which saps strength from our communities and forces them into the mercy and clutches of the criminal injustice system, black people in the US continue to remain the most exploited and enslaved labor. America continues to get rich off our labor, we continue to feed it, yet we receive nothing as a people from it and our communities are the poorest in the country. This is underdevelopment. We work and produce, yet we have no basic infrastructure, no food in our communities, and no basic resources.
Schools and infrastructure in black majority neighborhoods continue to remain the poorest and most underdeveloped. It is common to see schools loaded with cops while using textbooks from the 1970s and 1980s. Schools in Detroit are freezing in winter. Roads might as well be in the third world. Yet our cities have much money for tax cuts and other goodies to further and encourage gentrification and pay more police to harass us. Slum housing. Slum jobs. Slum life. Once again, we see the underdevelopment process. When you have a nation in chains, it is not in your interest to maintain good schools for those you value more in prison. It is not in your interest to build good roads, or give Flint clean water. It is in your interest to bleed as much out of them as possible, and keep them on their slave jobs. America’s development is Black underdevelopment. Destroy it.