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