Black on Black Suppression

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 13
Words: 3645
Reading time:
14 min
Study level: PhD


The United States is one of the nations where racial discrimination has been a common practice for a very long time. However, there has been a concerted effort in this society to fight this vice. This country is composed of people of different races. Many people from other nations around the world have acquired citizenship of the U.S. hence becoming a part of the nation. Historically, there have been serious incidences of racial inequality. Although this is believed to have been reduced tremendously, there are still some elements of racial inequality and discrimination in several institutions. According to Du (2007), discrimination in this country was always directed towards blacks. This scholar says that the blacks bore the greatest brunt of discrimination in this country due to a number of reasons. The main reason why the blacks were discriminated against was because of the circumstances under which they found their way into this country. Blacks came to the United States as slaves to work for the whites. When slavery was abolished, the slaves were incorporated as citizens of the United States of America. However, the tag of a slave that was put on them never went away. The American society still considered them as second-class citizens who did not deserve to be among other Americans.

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Another reason that was a major contributor to this discrimination was the skin color of the blacks. This was a source of ridicule whenever the blacks and the whites would have a social gathering. During this time, the whites believed that they were of a superior race. This black color of Africans was associated with all negative factors. Blacks were considered an equivalent of dirt, despite the fact that some dirt has a white color. All the evil spirits were (and still are) considered as dark (black) spirits. In their world, black was associated with any negative issue that society would want to avoid. As such, blacks would have their own schools, their own hospitals, and doctors, different estates from those used by the whites, different churches, and at times even different roads. Blacks did not take this lying low. They fought this discrimination. They organized demonstrations along the streets and in the cities. They came together under the leadership of such personalities like Martin Luther King Junior among other blacks. They fought this battle as a unit. They felt that they were suppressed and, therefore, needed to liberate themselves from this shackle of suppression. They were determined to make a change in this society. Sure enough, after several years of fighting, assassinations and torture, freedom rang. The curtains of discrimination by the whites against the blacks began to reduce. Society realized that men and women of the society were not to be judged by their skin color, but on the basis of their worth and capacity (Du, 2007).

As this new down came beckoning, a new culture, as ugly as the one that was coming to an end, was rising. American society was experiencing a new form of discrimination. This time, the discrimination was leveled against the blacks by the blacks themselves. In various institutions within this country, a black American would prefer promoting a white than a fellow black. A black American would find it easy sacking a fellow black for a very minor mistake, while the white who did a similar mistake would go without even a reprimand. A black student would easily be suspended from school by a black headteacher, but the same would not apply to a white student. When in place of authority, a black American would consider giving favors to the whites, while mating punishment to fellow blacks. This paper seeks to analyze how black Americans have turned out as oppressors of fellow blacks.

Literature Review

According to Boykoff (2007), the United States is not new to discrimination. When this country was gaining its independence, all people who were living in this country automatically became citizens of the United States of America. When the constitution was written, it was clear that all Americans would have an equal right to state resources. Every citizen would be equal according to the law. However, those who took power and authority to implement the constitution did not fulfill the spirit of this constitution. According to Jargowsky (1996), the whites considered themselves superior to the blacks and, therefore, treated them as such. After a long fight against this discrimination, it was clear that the war was being won. Boykoff (2007) says that as curtains of discrimination by the whites against blacks feel, a new form of discrimination was emerging. This scholar describes this new discrimination as blacks on black suppression. The blacks, who once fought together against discrimination, were turning on each other.

This is a very intriguing issue. It is intriguing how people who fought for freedom together would now turn against one another. Du (2007) gives a number of theories and explanations as to the possible reasons that could be attributed to this. Could be it is because of the fact that the common enemy (the whites) they were fighting is no longer an enemy and, therefore, they are finding the enemy amongst themselves. Another possibility could be because of the need to be seen by the whites, who are the major owners of factors of production in this country, as a darling. Through this, they hope to climb higher corporate larders. Another reason could be what was instilled in them while the whites were discriminating against them. They could have learned that once one was in power, the best he or she could do to remain in that power or ascend further, is to suppress the weak. Yet another possible reason for this could be the inferiority complex they still harbor. They still feel inferior to the whites, and therefore would not want to be seen in a bad light. As such, they would demonstrate their power by suppressing fellow blacks. Crenshaw (1995) on the other hand feels that this is so because the blacks in power would try their level best to retain their power, and this may involve suppressing other blacks who may challenge their position.

Wright (2002) focuses on the fact that some blacks are still inferior to the whites, a fact that makes them consider frustrating their fellow blacks at any slightest opportunity. This scholar says that the blacks came to conform to the fact that they are inferior to the whites. This tag still haunts them even when given the opportunity to be in a position of authority. As such, they always consider oppressing the blacks as a way of showing their authority within the firm. Jargowsky (1996) agrees with this fact. He says that some blacks still consider suppressing the blacks would give them favor in the face of a white superior. When one is put in a supervisory role and the superior happens to be a white, such a black officer will come up with policies favorable only to the whites. They consider this a ticket to higher positions in life.

Du (2007) says that black-on-black suppression gained roots when the society was just about to get better. The whites had come to appreciate the fact that blacks were also equal citizens of this country. As such, they deserved to be treated as equal to every other American citizen. However, a new crop of blacks in managerial positions have turned out against fellow blacks at the workplace, in schools, in social gatherings, and such other cases. In the workplaces, the blacks would be assigned odd tasks that needed a lot of energy and were generally considered less lucrative. This is a clear indication that these blacks still harbor the old feeling that odd jobs are fit for the blacks. As Wright (2002) observes, the blacks in senior managerial positions would feel comfortable assigning jobs that need physical strength to the blacks other than the whites. This does not mean that the blacks are stronger and, therefore, best fitting for this job. However, by virtue of being blacks, these supervisors would feel that they should be assigned such tasks.

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In schools, black-on-black suppression is common and it presents itself on various fronts. Jargowsky (1996) says that efforts have been made by various stakeholders to eliminate all forms of discrimination against students. However, cases where a black teacher calls a black student ‘nigger’ are still common in learning institutions. The term ‘nigger’ was first used by the slave traders as a general name for the black slaves. The term was, therefore, associated with slavery. Calling a student ‘nigger’ brings back these sad times. It is a reminder to such a student that he or she is not equal to other students. This may result in massive psychological torture on the student that may affect his or her normal learning. Such students’ grades would fall, not because they are stupid, but because they feel inferior among others. They feel that they are incapable of making it in class because of the attitude of the teacher towards them.

Black-on-black suppression may also occur out of sheer jealousy. A black superior may formulate oppressive policies for the blacks just to make them give up (Ford, 1994). The policies would be geared towards ensuring that the superiors suppress their juniors in a way that would make them give up. This way, they would feel that their positions of authority are not under any form of threat. Crenshaw (1995) says that blacks who suppress fellow blacks always believe that this is the right approach in making it through in the corporate world.

According to Ford (1994), black-on-black suppression is a vice that should come to an end. It is a practice that takes society ages backward. It took a long period to end discrimination against blacks. The war cost many lives, including the life of prominent personalities such as Martin Luther King Junior. The war was very challenging, and many people felt that it was too big to be won. However, the war was finally won by great leaders and every single citizen of this country. Bringing a new form of discrimination that has no basis should not be tolerated. According to Du (2007), this practice should be fought from every corner of this society, and with every effort that can ever. We need to have a society where respect reigns from every corner and in every institution.

Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

This topic has raised a lot of discussion among various scholars who have given a lot of attention trying to explain some pertinent issues in this topic. The need to explain the reason behind social segregation has seen a number of theorists come up with explanations as to the genesis of this practice within the society. In an effort to explain the segregation that was witnessed in the United States, and other European countries, Robert Park came up with The Immigrant Host Model Theory (Dalston, 2008). According to this theory, it is common for the immigrant to shun the cultural practices of the host, and vice versa, especially when the two cultures vary a lot. When this happens, the possibility of segregation is very high, as the two groups try to avoid ‘contamination’ by the other culture. This leads to segregation. This may explain the segregation against the blacks in the United States. This theoretical framework will help in understanding why blacks would suppress other blacks.

Research Question

In every research, a research question always helps in guiding research. The following is the research question for this research.

What cultural issues exist that compel some African Americans to consciously and covertly seek to restrain and limit career escalation in other Blacks?

Purpose of the Research

In this research, the focus is on the discrimination of the Black Americans by other Black Americans, with a particular focus on the discrimination faced by the Black Americans who tend to excel in their careers. The researcher is interested in investigating the historic perspective of this discrimination. In order to have a deeper analysis on this topic, the researcher will analyze the attitude that the Black Americans have had towards success. The motivation of this is to determine if their attitude towards success could be the reason behind their attitude towards successful Black Americans. The research will focus on how this attitude has affected Black Americans, and how this is related to poverty.

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Proposed Research Methodology

This section focuses on various aspects of research development. It includes methods of data collection, analysis and presentation procedures. Every research project applies a certain research method to achieve its objectives depending on its goals. In this study, respondents shall be briefed in advance. This is necessary to ensure that respondents are prepared psychologically for the task ahead. This would also help in ensuring that responses are given in time to allow timely analysis. The study population shall also be amicably informed in order to get prepared for the study. The briefing is important because it could enhance the reliability of the study. It is also ethical to inform people before researching them (Badenhorst, 2007). The findings shall also be made public to the research as one way of ensuring morality in the study. Furthermore, the researcher shall observe researcher-researched ethics by keeping away from criticism. This section also focuses on the literature review as one of the methods used in the collection of secondary sources of information. It gives the reason why literature review shall be used as a method to collect data. The section gives an overview of the purpose of collecting and analyzing data and the basic questions used to gather the desired responses (Vogt, 2007). Alternative methods of data collection are very important in research for they avail to the researcher a number of ways through which data can be collected.


According to Murray (2006), identifying the appropriate sample population for a research process is very important. In this research, the researcher intends to interview a number of selected individuals, mostly the social workers who are Black Americans. The researcher will include both male and female respondents in equal proportions. Given the time and resources available for this research, the researcher intends to have a sample of 50 participants aged above 25 years from different socioeconomic statuses. This will help give a comprehensive picture of the research issue.

Role of the Researcher

As Taylor (2005) says, a researcher is always considered as the primary instrument of data collection in qualitative research. In this research, the researcher will be an observer other than a participant. The researcher will collect primary data from an organization within this country. The choice to remain an observer and not a participant was made as a way of avoiding bias. The researcher knew that there could arise a conflict of interest when acting as a participant. The process of data collection shall be done by the researcher.


Ethical Procedure

According to Andrzej and Buchaman (2007), maintaining ethics in given research is of great importance. In this research, the researcher intends to maintain all the ethical issues of research. The researcher will first seek permission from the management of the organization where the respondents work. After obtaining this permission, the researcher will then call the sampled participant and explain to them why this research is necessary. The researcher will then send all the questions that shall be asked when collecting data. If the respondents approve of them, then the researcher shall proceed to gather this data from them. The researcher will protect the rights of the respondents by making them anonymous to the public. This confidentiality is important in making the participant free from any form of criticism or harm that may arise when the identity is made public.

Selection of the Participants

There are some factors that should be put into consideration when choosing the right method of selecting the participants (Calabrese, 2006). The researcher wanted a selection process that would ensure that the selected participants would be able to meet the expectations of this research. The researcher used a stratified sampling strategy but in a conscious manner. In this case, the researcher selected groups of participants based on age, gender, socioeconomic status, and level of office held within the organization. Within these groups, the researcher will pick participants randomly.

Data Collection Techniques

The data collection process is a very important stage in research (Hakim, 2000). In this research, the researcher would have wanted to use the observation techniques to get the desired result. However, this approach is time-consuming. The researcher did not have the luxury of time. For that matter, the interview was the best approach. The researcher designed a questionnaire that would be used in this research to interview the sample population on the research topic. The researcher was keen on the data that would be collected from three different categories. The first category is that of those who felt that at one time they had used their power to suppress other Black Americans who were on their way up the social ladder. The second category is that of the Black Americans who felt that at one point in life they had been suppressed by fellow Black Americans. Lastly, the researcher was interested in getting data from those who felt that they had observed oppression taking place.

Data Analysis Techniques

Data analysis refers to the process of transforming raw data into refined useful information that can be of use to people. Glatthorn (2005) advises that before settling on a method of data analysis, it is important to the approach to be taken by the research. The research can take a quantitative, qualitative or categorical approach. This research will take a qualitative approach. Depending on the type and accuracy needed, data analysis can take a simple descriptive form, or a more complex statistical inferencing (Creswell, 2009). The technique used in the analysis can be univariate analysis, bivariate analysis or multivariate analysis. In selecting the appropriate method, a researcher should ensure that assumptions relating to the method are satisfied (Dunleavy, 2003). In analyzing the collected data, the researcher will use appropriate statistical data analysis tools such as descriptive and inferential statistics in analyzing qualitative data.

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Social implication of the Research

This research is expected to come up with detailed findings that shall culminate on the recommendation on how the Blacks should view themselves. The researcher intends to discourage the culture where Black Americans segregate fellow Black Americans who happen to be successful in their careers. The researcher hopes to influence their society positively through this research. It is hoped that this culture will be brought to an end.

Limitation of the Study

In research, there are some limitations that a researcher must observe in order to be realistic. In this research, there are some limitations that the researcher will observe when conducting the research. The first limitation is time. This topic is very interesting. It requires ample time to investigate all the possible causes of black-on-black suppression. Another limitation is the cost. It may require substantial finance to conduct comprehensive research on this topic, especially in cases where the researcher may need to travel. In this research, the researcher will work within the budget set for this research. Cooperation can be another challenge. Some of the respondents may refuse to respond to the questions posed. The researcher will increase the number of targeted participants to cover for such unfortunate cases.

Verification of Trustworthiness/Authenticity

Validity means the appropriateness, applicability and truthfulness of a study. It is the ability of research instruments to produce results that are in agreement with theoretical and conceptual values (Tanke 2000). In this study, internal validity shall be ensured by checking the representativeness of the sample. The researcher shall ensure that the sample used captured all important characters in the sample population. During the data collection process and in analysis, the researcher will steer away from any form of bias. All the respondents will be picked randomly, without any preference. To further enhance validity for this research, the researcher shall assign equal weight to the respondents. This will ensure that collected data are not in any way influenced by the opinion of the researcher.

Reliability means that the study is consistent and lacks any ambiguity. It is the ability to trust something to provide information that addresses the issue at hand. Dane (1990) explains that it is related to the accuracy of instruments that is, how accurate the measuring device is in measuring what it claims to measure. In this study, it is achieved through increasing the verifiability of the perspective and using statistical tools to verify reliability. The researcher adopted the principles of coherence, openness, and discourse in order to guarantee reliability.

Data Interpretation

Data interpretation is very important. This is because it is at this stage that the researcher will be trying to create meaning out of the collected data. Data collected from multiple sources have to be integrated in order to respond to the research question for this research. For that matter, standardization was necessary. The researcher, therefore, shall use Likert scale in the questionnaire. In this approach, the researcher intends to use structured questions to standardize the response.

Dissemination of Findings

Upon completion of data analysis, data will be disseminated in a report format. In the report, there will be a step-by-step explanation of all the findings made. The researcher will also make use of figures such as graphs pie charts and charts. This would enhance the presentation of the research findings. The target populations for this research are the policymakers and the local community. In order to ensure that the findings of this report reach them, the researcher will use newspaper articles and journals to disseminate this report. The dissemination will also be done through the local community and meetings with relevant stakeholders.


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