“It is white power that makes the laws, and it is violent white power in the form of armed white cops that enforces those laws with guns and nightsticks. The vast majority of Negroes in this country live in these captive communities and must endure these conditions of oppression because, and only because, they are black and powerless. I do not suppose that at any point the men who control the power and resources of this country ever sat down and designed these black enclaves, and formally articulated the terms of their colonial and dependent status, as was done, for example, by the apartheid government of South Africa. Yet, one cannot distinguish between one ghetto and another. As one moves from city to city, it is as though some malignant racist planning-unit had done precisely this—designed each one from the same master blueprint. And indeed, if the ghetto had been formally and deliberately planned, instead of growing spontaneously and inevitably from the racist functioning of the various institutions that combine to make the society, it would be somehow less frightening. The situation would be less frightening because, if these ghettoes were the result of design and conspiracy, one could understand their similarity as being artificial and consciously imposed, rather than the results of identical patterns of white racism which repeat themselves in cities far apart as Boston and Birmingham. Without bothering to list historic factors which contribute to this pattern—economic exploitation, political impotence, discrimination in employment and education—one can see that to correct this pattern will require far-reaching changes in the basic power-relationships and the ingrained social patterns with the society. The question is, of course, what kind of changes are necessary, and how is it possible to bring them about?
In recent years, the answer to these questions which has been given by most articulate groups of Negroes and their white allies—the “liberals” of all stripes—has been in terms of something called “integration.” According to the advocates of integration, social justice will be accomplished by “integrating the Negro into mainstream institutions of the society from which he has been traditionally excluded.” It is very significant that each time I have heard this formulation is has been in terms of “the Negro,” the individual Negro, rather that in terms of the community.
This concept of integration has to be based on the assumption that there was nothing of value in the Negro community and that little of value could be created among Negroes, so the thing to do was to siphon off the “acceptable” Negroes into the surrounding middle-class white community. Thus the goal of the movement for integration was simply to loosen up restrictions barring the entry of Negroes into the white community. Goals around which the struggle took place, such as public accommodation, open housing, job opportunity on the executive level (which is easier to deal with than the problem of semi-skilled and blue-collar jobs which involve more far-reaching economic adjustments), are quite simply middle-class goals, articulated by a tiny group of Negroes who had middle-class aspirations. It is true that the student demonstrations in the South during the early Sixties, out of which SNCC came, had a similar orientation. But while it is hardly a concern of a black sharecropper, dish-washer, or welfare recipient whether a certain fifteen-dollar-a-day motel offers accommodations to Negroes, the overt symbols of white superiority and the imposed limitations on the Negro community had to be destroyed. Now, black people must look beyond these goals, to the issue of collective power.”
— Stokely Carmichael