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Social Capital: Plugged To Capital | Drained of Opportunity

By: Quenton Horton

“The native of New England is attached to his township because it is independent and free: his co-operation in its affairs ensures his attachment to its interest; the well-being it affords him secures his affection; and its welfare is the aim of his ambition and of his future exertions…” –Alexis de Tocqueville



Black, not the color, nor all of its people; the color designating the prisoners that rebuilt the South after the Confederacy fell to the Union; prisoners to the exemption that kept them from being called slaves, which is they truly were under the guise of being criminals; “Already, whites realize that the combination of trumpeted-up legal charges and forced labor as punishment created both a desirable business proposition and incredibly effective tool for intimidating rank-and-file emancipated African Americans and doing away with their most effective leaders”1. Blackness is a moniker carries an array of stigmas: nefariousness (Thug); poverty (Ghetto); incompetent (Boy); and servile (Butler); Blackness a collection of counternarratives, lives lived, groundbreaking accomplishments, a heritage of articulating adversity through the arts, and making landmark legal strands that serve the adopted nation of a people forcibly transported for labor—many through trade deals from West Coast African peoples—to nation over the course of centuries has developed a complicated relationship with the land that divorced the community from a heritage prior to bondage. Black, as in Black Americans, is a community whose social capital appears to be consistently at odds with how to live with the reality of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade impact on the legacy of being Black in America. This Internal Intellectual Soliloquy takes a survey of the Black American in the American community after the Civil War to see how the Black American fits within the broader “Township” of America.

1 Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II (New York: Anchor Books, 2009), 55

“…he takes a part in every occurrence in the place; he practises the art of government in the small sphere within his reach; he accustoms himself to those forms which can alone ensure the steady progress of liberty…”

--Alexis de Tocqueville


The legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade placed within the framework of American civic and legal life has casted the legacy of Black Americans as being incapable of self-sufficiency, and thus prone to criminality: “they were creatures bought or bred for the production of wealth”2. These are the words reference the penal system continued the attitudes of the Antebellum South in a Postbellum America; words that contextualize the expectation of Black bodies to serve at the behest of White Planters, which sets the groundwork for Black bodies to serve the Union as a whole even after the abolishment of chattel slavery in the United States.

The Lost Cause myth of Black Americans being prone to criminality and dependent upon others for survival as encapsulated in Birth of a Nation (1915); the former (criminality) is often used a guise to exploit the exemption of the Thirteenth Amendment; the imprisonment of Black American men depletes communities of human capital as they (Black American men) become state-property; whereas: the latter (dependency) carries the tropes of Sambo Art, and the paternalism that characterizes Jim Crow America. In chapter three “Framing Blackness”:

“These symbolic narratives of transgression unfolded in the American racial unconscious, in paired on binary constructs, fused, Janus-faced opposites: power and helplessness, fantasy and repugnance, desire and rejection, attraction and repulsion, seduction and violation, beauty and the bestial, the sublime and the grotesque, all within the larger, convoluted frame of monstrous depravity and licentiousness of slavery”3. In other words, the echoes of the Lost Cause myth causes a rift amongst Black Americans as it (The Lost Cause) colors Black American dependent Americans in constant need of philanthropic efforts and etiquette training. The Atlanta Compromise best illustrates this rift; however, for now focus shall return to the Amendments at the prohibition of Slavery in 1865. Amendments that in spirit of the law addressed the damages of three-fifth comprise (Article One; Section Two (2), Clause Three (3)) that represented the bodies held under chattel slavery in the South that was addressed by Thirteenth Amendment (1865) by guaranteeing freedom chattel slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) sought to establish citizenship and equal protection under the law for the newly freed: in addition to the Fifteenth Amendment seeking to establish voter rights for the newly freed. The letter of the law, however, reflects the socio-political attitudes of Redeemers at the failure of Reconstruction; peonage practices would come to challenge the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment in the early 20th century after being abolished in the 19th century (1867): Bailey v. Alabama (1911) and United States v. Reynolds (1914). “Across Alabama, individual property holders—slaveholders specifically—were aggressively encouraged to attempt primitive industrial efforts to support the Confederate war effort”4; akin to peonage was convict leasing, whereas peonage allowed for private citizens to use Black labor for profit; convict leasing enabled the state to benefit from Black labor by leasing to corporations: case in point Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company. Francis Biddle’s Circular 3591 (1941) compelled the nations’ Attorney Generals to focus on the servitude component of Peonage and Convict Leasing without needing the element of debt. Biddle’s order resolves Peonage and Convict Leasing after Pearl Harbor (December 7th, 1941) after America declares war on Germany (December 11th, 1941); that establishes a pattern Black Americans’ rights—although written into the constitution—are protected in the letter of the law after an ongoing period of egregious violations of those rights. The spirit of the law the laws that protect after Black Americans continue to fall under myths.

Although the Southeast region of our Nation is often front and center in discussions of systemic racism; the color line followed Black Americans that began to leave the region at the turn of the twentieth century: The Great Migration (soon followed by the immigration of the African Diaspora in the 1960s) the complexity of Anti Blackness myths and ideologies revealed their pervasiveness and reach within the North. One does not have to commit a great deal of time to Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America to verify the South was not unique in its exclusion of Black Americans in “White” communities: “Today’s residential segregation in the North, South, Midwest, and West is not the unintended consequence of individual choices and of otherwise well-meaning law or regulation but of unhidden public policy that explicitly segregated every metropolitan area in the United States”5. Housing discrimination also is a denial of capital; the creation of the suburbs from the G.I. Bill offered housing to “White” American veterans while explicitly excluding Black American veterans allowing their “White” counterparts to build generational wealth. The ramifications of segregation cannot be minimized; therefore, this paper limits the discussion to wealth: employment discrimination of King’s Other America; capitals ability to uproot communities; and a lack of civil protection that has kept Black Americans in what Dr. Kenneth Clark calls the Dark Ghetto. Ghettos that would bequeath to the world many wax bards and most notably Malcolm Little; better known as the Late Malcolm X.

2 Blackmon, 17

3 Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Stony The Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and The Rise of Jim Crow (New York: Penguin Books, 2020), 126

4 Blackmon, 19

5 Richard Rothstein The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017), VII, VIII


Contextualizing the ongoing struggle for equity within the Anglo-American economic system; although constantly used as a source of labor, has been the focus of many Black American leaders. Within the struggle for equity lays the emotional labor of

articulating the mental brutality or “psychological onslaught” as Prof. Joshua Bennett describes in his work Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man “…a system of relations in which the line between home and war are always already blurred, always marred beyond recognition by grime or fire”6; that perpetuates feelings of dejection, personal failure, and rejection to name a few. Thus, the dehumanization of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade remains with the children of those enslaved through de facto understandings of Black Americans as well as the de jure; that uses Black bodies for labor, which has fractioned the social capital of Black America. The social capital of Black America is tied to the demands of Anglo-American capital and capitalism; thus, the needs of Black Americans are also subjected to the need of Anglo-American capitalism, which is the systemic problem that persist despite an individual’s intentions to be anti-racist.

Plugged to “White” capital leaves Black Americans drained of the opportunities to found and maintain institutions that forward their particular interest. As outlined in the problem section, Black America here is defined as the persons whose heritage is tied to the cultural and legal hurdles of being chattel slaves as well as having to live under Jim Crow South and the prejudiced North before 1960. Contextualizing Black America as such for the sake of this paper gives scope to the intra-cultural rift as to how a Black Americans can access Anglo-American capitalism. The footnotes in the problem section illustrate the letter of the law is slow to act when the spirit of the law is used against Black Americans, for instance the race riots of 1906 in Atlanta; or as Dr. Carol Anderson and professor at Emory University places such violent acts—White Rage. Dr. Anderson’s work articulates the “White” Backlash of Black Americans endured as they were being granted full citizenship with the passing the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments; such intense fear of amongst Black populations gave rise to Black leaders like Booker T. Washington. Dr. Anderson’s focus on White Rage is a poignant reminder that Washington was in a political actor whom the Redeemers were a reality and the very real violence of abject poverty; so, Washington’s appeal to industrialists’ sensibilities—a palatable way of saying, appeal to their racism—which differed from Frederick Douglass before him is a politically astute move: forgoing the vote for money. The Atlanta Exposition Speech delivered by Washington became a source of contention between Washington and W.E.B Dubois; colloquially the Atlanta Debate: which is a debate of industry (money) or intellect (prestige)—a simplified dichotomy of the arguments—as a solution the “Negro Problem”; a debate that continues to shape political discussions of Black Americans. The cultural artifacts of Respectability is how the “Negro Problem” is discussed contemporarily. In essence, Respectability politics defines who(m) is credible enough to be tied to capital, more accurately ownership; or to be drained of their

6 Joshua Bennett Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man

(Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020), 29

physical labor for the economic opportunity of another person under the guise of paternalism.

“…he imbibes their spirit; he acquires a taste for order, comprehends the union or the balance of powers, and collects clear practical notions on the nature of his duties and the extent of his rights.”—Alexis de Tocqueville


Simple, continue the journey of discovering the complexities of America’s citizenry here at Gilded Sages; for we aim to discuss the nuances of “The Color Line” that blinds collective efforts capable of redressing the segregationist policies through discourse and collective action. The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, The Underclass, and Public Policy by Dr. William Julius Wilson was initially published in 1987 addressed the separation of information generated about segregation as follows, “The solution to this problem is not to try to divest social investigators of their values but to encourage a free and open discussion of the issues among people with different value premises in order that new questions can be raised, existing interpretations challenged, and new research stimulated”7. For the sake of this paper Dr. Wilson’s call to action amongst “social investigators” shall fall under the umbrella term of social capital.

Social Capital using the definition provided by the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development (OECD) is “networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within or among groups”; in other words, people gathered not for the expressed purpose of a goal or a project, but a collective of people that work with one another because they share norms and/or values. As illustrated within the Background and Problem sections the Human Capital of Black (ADOS) Americans has been used for the purposes of Anglo-American Capitalism; from rebuilding the Southern economy with peonage and sharecropping to being regulated to low-wage work within Northern cities; the social capital of Black (ADOS) American has been hampered by the legacy of racism as well as nonracial factors that continue to impede the community’s ability to recover and thrive. A diminished social capital has complex effects that are not readily seen and seldom discussed.

The effect of living in an environment with a social capital that is not viable for economic empowerment is much of the discussion of 1965’s Dr. Kenneth Clark, Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power; Dr. Clark says, “The symptoms of lower-class society afflict the dark ghettos of America—low aspiration, poor education, family instability illegitimacy, unemployment, crime, drug addiction and alcoholism, frequent illness and early death”8. The symptoms stated by Dr. Clark exhibit the gravitas and breadth of professions need to address each one: from educators and social workers to law enforcement and medical practitioners; a paper in 2011 “Neighborhoods and Chronic Disease Onset In Later Life” shows the influence of a neighborhood health; “self-reported blood pressure and diabetes in our study and, in previously published work, obesity—the link with neighborhood economic disadvantage was unique to women…”9. According to the CDC heart disease “…is the leading cause of death for African American and white women…”, which frames the larger question of what it means to “Protect Black Women”10. Therefore, socially segregated neighborhoods are not a benign artifact of the past that no longer have an effect on the present. Recognizing contemporary segregation acknowledges a legacy of de jure; de facto; and pro forma attitudes within the United States from the Constitution to the 13th; 14th; and 15th Amendments, which establishes a timeline for “social investigators” to conduct empirical research. Through the lens of Jim Crow, one sees how the de facto prejudice and hatred of the Redeemers lead to the de jure of the aforementioned and Black Codes. In the words of Dr. Anderson, “White Rage” and its impact on Black (ADOS) Americans ability to maintain a social capital within antagonistic environments and adversarial policies. The robust evidence of de facto and de jure practices are codified in law or the cultural movements of the United States; thus, one of the focuses for investigation must be the pro forma, or formal practices, that have kept America segregated11(see and hear scholar and educator Walidah Imarisha lecture on segregation in Oregon with Thomas Robinson’s Photo Essay); and thus contributed to what Dr. Wilson calls, “racial division of labor”12.

Given the Digital Divide that is now becoming known as Digital Redlining the prevalence of segregationist’s legacy that hinder the enrichment of human capital within our neighborhoods; the gap in knowledge is reflected within our workforce. It is here, at this point, within this moment, to explicitly express that from this moment forth capital is not analogous to “White”; capital is of itself a method of thinking that divorced of a particular identity but does reflect a mind focused on profits through market participation. Pleased differently, from here forth capital is about a mindset, which furthers that this discussion is beyond the Color Line, although in the past the Color Line explicitly passed laws to exclude people of color; however, this explicit behavior has been frowned upon since the beginning its practice. Digital Redlining is exacerbated by the presence of some Black (ADOS) American within workforces that do not live within Digital Redlined neighborhoods, and/or can afford the services; this is important as Dr. Wilson illustrated in 1987:

“…the exodus of middle and working-class families from many ghetto neighborhoods removes an important “social buffer” that could deflect the full impact of the kind of prolonged and increasing joblessness that plagued inner-city neighborhood in the 1970s and early 1980s, joblessness created by uneven economic growth and periodic recessions”13

Thus, when discussing gentrification, one is remised if there is not mention of Black (ADOS) Americans that do not have the same values as other Black (ADOS) Americans, thus they have the share a heritage, but not an ideological linage. In other words, there is no monolithic Black American; dropping the ADOS moniker here as ADOS is a formal institution that is focused on redressing the harms of their populace for the sake of economic justice, thus they (ADOS) do share an ideological linage as well as a shared heritage. Meaning that the social capital for a Black American is depended a network of people that aware of the Black (ADOS) Americans and Black Americans whose forebears did not fall within the aforementioned timeline; however, due to the unique challenges of colonialism have their own experiences. With this clarification the social capital of Black Americans within inner cities needs attention as to the particular values of each neighborhood as they are not the same although they may share a zip code. This is not a unique development of Black Americans; even before the migration of Black Africans from the continent; Black Americans desired to live away from each other:

“Frequently, the African Americans who attempted to pioneer the integration of white middle-class neighborhoods were of higher social status than their white neighbors, and they were rarely of lower status”.14

Thus, with Rothstein two factors of Black Americans are made clear: first social economic status does not mean one is accepted within mainstream America; second that Black Americans socioeconomic status is not monolithic, nor are the aspirations of Black American. Therefore, the cultural expression of each Black American is unique to their expression and does not reflect a whole. Thus, I reiterate an earlier point—Black (ADOS) Americans need Americans that care about the history of America as it presents rather than political interpretation. Placed differently, Americans that care about poverty and its effects on people. For what many call the Ghetto or the Hood is a place where people have been drawn into and told they are not worthy of prosperity because they have not contributed to the well-being of America’s economic engine; however, a definitive answer is out of reach due to a lack of evidence, but there is a corpus of evidence (briefly highlighted here) that isolating people based upon the arbitrariness of taste is detrimental: otherwise, “…communities of the underclass are plagued by massive joblessness, flagrant and open lawlessness, and low-achieving school, and therefore tend to be avoided by outsiders”15. The point of “outsiders” avoiding a neighborhood because its perception appears to be a moot point in its obviousness; until one reads The Tyranny of Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America: “racial diversity empowers those with dissenting opinions to speak up”16.

Professor Lani Guinier in her 2015 work Tyranny of Meritocracy read in junction with Dr. Clark and Dr. Wilson reinforces the need for “social buffers” that are mentors for the “underclass”:

“…the partnership began, crime and transience have gone down in the Main South neighborhood, and residential occupancy is up. Some families say they have moved in just so their children can attend University Park”1718.

The partnership between Clark University and the Main South Neighborhood is a case-study for social capital’s capacity to be transformative. The facility and staff of Clark University did not reflect the demographic of the Main South Neighborhood; however, that did not stop them from understanding the needs of the Main South Neighborhood, nor did it stop them from collaborating with local residents in a joint venture to transform the opportunities available to the youth of Main South. A partnership model; a collaborative force; and a cooperative group of people with vested interest in the development of people rather limiting people to a test score yields results such as “…placements are so successful that Clark professors generally do not know which of their students are coming from UPCS and which are undergraduates”19. Therefore, social capital cannot be understated to the develop of a person; for the neighborhood enriches a person (or drains) as much as person enriches (or drains) the neighborhood. The notion that a person must prove to be a benefit to society before they are worth social investment ignores areas of active divestment, and how poverty recks havoc on a community let alone an individual. The idea that merit is an innate trait that is inherited makes meritocracy is Dubois’s veil; meaning that meritocracy is the idea that one must achieve greatly for their ideas to have any validity and character credibility: the creation of the New Negro to distance oneself away from the stigma of being poor, which in Dr. Wilson’s terms a member of the “underclass”.

Paideia is great for learning the taste of the “high-born”, and being naughty with a well-bred education that’s well-versed in the canon of the “Dead White Males”; however, I have seldom encountered an intellectual that wasn’t upset with the “masses’ for upsetting their romantic vision of the past, thus no will for change; rarified air is an negative integration technique. Nurturing talents that emerge instead of catering to a subset of desired skills; this is not the work of institutions: this is the work of people that care to place the value of having high-aspirations and empowering those aspiration with theoretical approaches that are buttressed by experience. The goal of doing these White Papers is to discuss poverty from a perspective that humanize the people who are directly affected by poverty and contextualize neighborhoods that “outsiders” do not want to visit. Oddly, enough I am an “outsider” within and out of these neighborhoods. This fact does not diminish my resolve to discuss how racist and sexist thinking condemn people to a life of hardship, on-going emergencies, and the “psychological onslaught” of wondering if they were good enough to develop into a respected citizen or if they are innately worthless; thus, the source of their isolation. The practice of assuaging America’s segregationist past as a relic of racism that no longer affects our neighborhoods and workforce belies the impact segregation still has. There is no magic pill and/or simple solution to redressing the legacy of segregation. However, acknowledging how segregation’s legacy frames our thinking contemporarily frames our discussions on Diversity and Inclusion.

7 William Julius Wilson The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass and Public Policy (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1987), 5

8 Dr. Kenneth B. Clark Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power

(New York, New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 27

9 Neighborhoods and Chronic Disease Onset in Later Life



12 Wilson, 12

13 Wilson, 56

14 Rothstein, 59

15 Wilson, 58

16 Lani Guinier The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America (Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 2015), 38


18 Guinier, 50

19 Guinier, 50


The Township known as Washington, D.C has shaped my dedication to a diverse socialization for social capital. As a lifelong Congress Heights resident, it is my experience that relative poverty stifles personal growth. Congress Heights is located within Ward Eight of Washington where there has been an ongoing narrative of inherent inferiority of its residents. Certainly, this is due to the concertation of poverty that came to exist after Black Flight20 in the 1980’s that fed the inner-city post crack era narratives. Given my introduction to the neighborhood began in the 90s, really the mid-90s when I became aware of my neighborhood’s differences to where my mother work; what I saw between Congress Heights and Judiciary Square were starkly different. For instance, the vendor in Congress Heights was an older black guy known as the Freezie Man who sold shaved flavor ice out of an old red sun faded ice cream truck; whereas outside of Judiciary Square I would get two half-smokes with chili and cheese from an South Asian woman who always asked about my mother—I miss that woman—her vendor stand was shiny stainless steel with candy, soda, chips, everything for a quick snack. Each were vendors however; our interactions were different based upon how each merchant took the time to get to know their customer. Such social interactions is where I admit that growing up in Washington has made me a Third Culture Kid. The Third Culture is this case is not an ethnicity or an inherited heritage, the Third culture here is the dissolving of SES to the interest and beliefs of the people within the beltway. Many are socialized by this township’s socio-economic diversity, which frames the perceptions and assumptions.

I’ve been called exceptional for most of my life—who cares—that’s the important question; not me is my answer; however, to a number of people that is me being self deprecating or participating in imposter syndrome like behavior. I’m flippant about the exceptionalism claim because it minimizes what I know to be the true value of my perspective—the number of people willing to having frank discussions with me. This work, Internal Intellectual Soliloquy, was born from the vexation of people saying that I should speak in public: Black (ADOS) people, “White” people, mothers, fathers, other people brothers and sisters; cousins too. Due to the persistence from people who have never met but gave me the same message I began to see the value in articulating my perspective outside of fiction and diatribes—lots of diatribes. Arrogance announced and self-aggrandizing masked as biography aside; I am quite serious that having a diverse social network is comforting. Knowing different people from different backgrounds makes me comfortable to be myself in the world—people are people. That is to say a person’s aspirations and how they achieve their goals say more about their character than any material possessions and/or credentials; heritage is home, but not the whole of one’s whole-being. Thus, I leave you neighbor with this—I hope you are well—more importantly, I hope you get to know someone you did not know before. We are more complex than the circumstances of our birth, with nourishment, we have the capacity to grow.

20 Segregation-Policy-Brief-1tjali5.pdf

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