Week of April 15: Power Process of the Ruling Class

Important announcements!

Fall Course: I’ll be teaching AAS 245: History of African Americans in the Wednesday 6-8:40 PM time slot if anyone’s interested. Section H81, course code 57646. It meets the “US Experience in its Diversity” core requirement. It is not writing intensive.


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  • For those unable to complete it because your assigned fieldwork spot is closed–hang on. There will be an alternate assignment instead
  • See the revised schedule on the syllabus page


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Instructions for this week: Read the presentation by your classmates and listen to my lecture (it’s about 22 minutes long) then comment on Wilson’s chapter. In chapter 8, Wilson outlines a framework for how the ruling class uses its influence over governmental processes to its advantage in running the society.

This week’s  presentation:

Student Presentation by Esme, Bereket, and Janette

PDF download:

This week’s audio lecture:

It’s approximately 22 minutes long. Play it in your browser by pressing the arrow below. Try it in a different browser or on a laptop/desktop computer if it doesn’t play–especially on mobile devices–and please report any problems to me.

Comments on posts:

You’ll notice the “Leave a Comment” button is now active below. Here’s how it’ll work: you can use these to discuss points raised here.  A few points:

  • Your first comment will have to be approved by me: after that, you can comment without approval
  • Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
  • You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
  • Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates

To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either Wilson’s chapter, the presentation, or my lecture using some of the questions raised. conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have until next Wednesday to write those two comments for credit. The comment section closes after 14 days.


22 thoughts on “Week of April 15: Power Process of the Ruling Class

  1. Renee P

    After reading chapter 8, I was immediately able to make a connection to the first chapter of the book where Wilson discusses the types of power that exist within a society. This chapter seems very familiar in that of which Wilson explains the types of power that the ruling class uses in Washington. This was a very interesting read because whenever the economy is discussed during political debates, or informally on Twitter, there’s always talk about how big businesses manipulate the economy and make the mass public pay for it, and I never understood how that came to be. I also hear presidential candidates or officials already elected in Congress talk about wanting to put an end to the financial corruption and it made me wonder why something like that couldn’t be done by them immediately given the amount of “power” they have. Wilson is very informative though because now everything around me is starting to make sense, I almost can never look at any of these big corporate businesses the same way. The most interesting takeaway from this chapter is when Wilson begins to deconstruct the economic influence that corporate lobbyists have on taxation policies. Wilson writes “[t]hrough the shrewd construction and manipulation of tax laws, policies and tax breaks, the ruling business elite and the wealthy classes use tax revenues and public spending as a major means of soaking the poor and less-well-off to redistribute wealth in their favor” (161). This was very shocking because I just never knew there was so much corruption in Washington all for the purpose of only one class struggle to maintain their abundance of power. What’s disappointing is that most Black Americans will never be exposed to this information and will continue to be blind to these injustices.

    1. Fatoumata Tunkara

      Hey Renee,

      I like the insight you gave on this topic. I agree that it was interesting to learn more in depth from the chapter the power and influence lobbyists have in government. I stated in my posts that the most dominant process they use to maintain power definitely ties into politics and government. I think that since subordinate groups are often ignorant about politics it allows for the white elite to maintain power.

  2. NEVIA.CRIDLAN@lc.cuny.edu

    What will the assignment be about for this Friday the 17th?

    1. Esme Lovemore

      I am going back over chapter eight and a question poped in my thoughts. Hope is will not be construed as as simply, . Between power and influence which is stronger?

  3. Fatoumata Tunkara

    Chapter 8 of “Blueprint for Black Power” really displays legitimate statements on how the white elite are able to maintain dominate power by processes that include the special-interest process, policy formation process, candidate selection process and ideology process. In response to the question posted by Esme “As the ruling white male elite struggles for national dominance, what three levels of power do they strive to maintain?” I think that as they struggle to maintain dominance over subordinate groups they continue to show their political power by allowing the election of Donald Trump to occur. Despite his very racist and sexist comments throughout his presidential campaign many whites voted him into office. He also received the support from the Republican party which tends to be associated with the white ruling male elite. This ties into the candidate selection process which is defined as the ways members of the ruling class ensure that they have “access” to the politicians who are elected to office. The white ruling class knows that by maintaining political dominance they can shape policy’s that can continue to hurt subordinate groups such as African Americans. The reason why I state this is because over the past few years post Obama presidency we see how many white politicians and the white ruling class are more open about their racism. Not just towards African Americans but other subordinate groups like immigrants as well. I think that the white ruling class knows that as long as they can maintain dominance over the government they can continue to seize power.

    1. Nevia Cridlan

      I agree with you especially the part about as long as the white politicians are in power they will always hold down people of color and other immigrants. White politicians give limitations opportunity to the blacks in everything that they do, put open the door of opportunities to everything for their kind. Having power other others can influence them in a good or bad way.

      1. Emma R

        I agree with this comment as well as long as whites have the power many people will not succeed if they are trying to better their lives definitely if they are blacks and minors. They limited to the resources that this country gives. The doors do not open for the poor. Having power and sticking together has more value to use than the U.S dollar

      2. Nevia Cridlan

        Emma I understand the way you feel including a lot more people and myself. Everything that you wrote is true because President Trump make it known to the whole world what comes first and it is not humans.

    2. Renee P

      I completely agree with you and your connection of this chapter to Donald Trump’s campaign. I think in this context, it becomes much easier to deconstruct the ideas put forth by Wilson. I think the infiltration of Washington by white elite class plentifully contributes to his staying in power thus far. This makes me wonder how Obama was able to get in the office and stay in power for so long if his ideologies, presumably, don’t coincide with that of the white elitist class. I haven’t read up about the candidate selection process as of yet, but I’m sure I’ll find my answer there.

      1. Nevia Cridlan

        Fatoumata do you think Donald Trump will be re-elected for another term in spite of how racist he is?

      2. Emma R

        @Nevia C I would be so hurt if Donald Dump got re-elected he has shown many times that his interest is not on the people, but on the economy and that this nation would be better off within immigrants and that has hurt many because this nation is stemmed from immigrants. I do not think one is really American.

    3. Aprika T

      I like how you started off your response with mentioning that White elites know exactly what to do in order to remain in power and have that control. I feel like that is their plan to make sure Afrikan Americans and other minority groups stay on the lower level in society.

  4. Bereket Mengistu

    I had the pleasure of working with Esme and Janette on chapter 8’s presentation. It’s quite insightful. Wilson here exposes all the details in the bias that occurs in the process of legislation. We don’t really understand the small nuances that goes in the process of law making and why some Bill gets passed and others don’t. The system of dividing the board in to sub committees and into Lobbyists helps disguise the injustice that occurs. Lobbyists, whom according to Wilson are usually white elites from Ivy League Colleges are usually conservatives that aren’t interested in the livelihood of minorities. They have a major impact in the legislation process and they of course want to keep the system operating for their own benefits.

    Wilson urges us to note, Professor also mentioned this point in the audio lecture, the two different ways that people could be involved in manipulating the political process. One is those group that does it by governing- those elite groups, sub committees and Lobbyists. The others, like the Black community and Black Politicians do it by legitimating the system. He points out that we give it a legitimacy by going out and voting, by being elected officials.

    1. Hadijah A.

      I think this group did such a wonderful job breaking down the chapter. I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know how the legislations work, and even lobbyist. I always heard of the term lobbyist, but I had no idea what they actually did. Amos breaks it down in this chapter, and you understand how a lot of shady things can actually go on in the government and it can be “legal”.

      1. Bereket Mengistu

        Thank you Hadijah, we tried our best to have a decent presentation. It’s so ridiculous how much we don’t know about the actual people who influence our very lives. These people are literally like a puppetry master and we’re just puppets that they swing around.

  5. Nevia Cridlan

    Chapter 8 has a of lot important sub heading. The sub heading that stood out to me was Blacks and Government. While they are conforming to the rules the dynamics are supreme to the global action. Their ideas was not being recognized enough to explain and stop what they could no longer accepted. Recognition in the Afrikan American communities was and is still minimal today, they need re-enforcement to protect them against the different oppositions that their communities are facing. This would help their communities internally, economically, socially and institutionally. They need more power, togetherness, determination and strength for their voices to be heard and bring changes to their communities.

  6. Emma R

    I like how Wilson (page 154) mentions how it takes four types of government processes for the white man to be successful which are 1) the special-interest process that has to do with a group of wealthy people getting together to influence others for a short amount of time. 2) The policy formation process which has to do with the ruling class and the developments that come. 3) The candidate selection comes into place to see if they have the best person to do the job. Lastly is the ideology process which is the important part because all this white governmental stuff is a belief and based on how one feels. It sounds more like a popularity contest within the government and about who has more money to give. The white ruling is a party within the whites. Black America does not get a chance to be apart of those things because it is not built for our people. Like Wilson said it is about who has the most money and who face is seen the most throughout the election times. This is how they make the process theirs by controlling it with money and not with knowledge or wisdom. Money rules all and if you have it, you can do a lot.

  7. Hadijah A.

    Chapter 8 breaks down political systems that are set in place, and the benefits that the wealthy reap from it all. Unfortunately, this chapter breaks down how political system is biased, and excludes people of lower socioeconomic communities. Also, when the chapter talks about the ideologies I believe is the systemic oppression embedded into those communities. Most people in this demographic believe that they lack power and or their votes for elected officials won’t count or make a difference. In addition, when the chapter mentions “Police-paramilitary level” I think this is another method that is used to suppress and create fear among the minority. We see it happen all the time in current events where everyday citizens are being brutalized by law enforcement.

    The chapter also breaks the process and how the “ruling class” influence government to satisfy their needs, the interest of the ruling class is incorporated into policies, and the accessibility of elected officials to the ruling class. For example, the constitution was developed by financial elevated “planters, merchants, and creditors” whom were associated with influential network of people. The chapter also mentions how lobbyist are key in being a liaison amongst the ruling class (corporate companies, white elite, etc) and government officials. The way that the political system is setup up is involves white supremacy, an organized intact system (which even involves a government system and a secondary government system), and the best interest in the ruling elite class.

  8. Aprika T

    While listening to Professor Williams lecture of Chapter 8 many things stood out to me one of the most important points I took note of was when he began discussing how current events such as the coronavirus pandemic has changed many things including the states budget based on the income coming into and more going out in terms of the amount of money that will have to spent to help fight the virus. I feel like it was very smart for the government to do this and actually take into consideration all that is currently going on and how it is greatly affecting people. Another thing that stood out to me in the Chapter is when Wilson speaks about how when white politicians are in power they will always use their power to oppress people of color and other immigrants. White politicians limit opportunities given to the blacks in everything that they do. As well as corruption in the government when officials appoint their own people into different seats in office so they can make sure they get things they want done, done.

    1. Leah H

      I agree that it is important to talk about our current state and the effects of Coronavirus on our communities. Lower income areas of majority minority people of color are not only affected the most but they also receive the least opportunities for care. Our government should be overcompensating for these communities by giving them more resources to aid the sick and unemployed. This however is not the case, and the government expects people who are incapable of working or receiving government benefits to survive on merely $1,200.

  9. Jose Tejada

    Chapter 8 does a great job clarifying the structure in which while elites maintain dominance through special-interest, policy formation, candidate selection process, and ideology process. Money rules in this country. Therefore, there is no question that the more money you have, the more influence and power you have in politics. Organizations like the NRA, promote their narrative and way of thinking by ensuring that candidates for the political party that represents them, have views that they support. No corporation or business would want somebody that could impose a threat to their survival to become an elected official. The perfect example is the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States. Nobody could expect him to go into office, and raise taxes on the rich. He is a businessman. A person who interacts with business people. I find it surprising that people found it a surprise the tax cut he gave rich corporations. He wasn’t going to raise taxes on his friends and family.

  10. Leah H

    In chapter 8, Wilson discusses the power process of the ruling class. This includes ways in which they maintain their power within multiple secs of government and how their special interests are utilized to shape the experience of the American people. By inhabiting and dominating all governmental systems, the conservative white ruling elite are responsible for creating symbolic images and symbols that determine and influence our range of consciousness. This specifically caught my attention because it brought me back to the documentary 13th which discusses the re-enslavement of African Americans through the prison industrial system. One way in which the white ruling elite was able to target African Americans males was through media and their portrayal of AA men as “criminal”. This ideology quickly influenced the American public, including our judicial system. It is incredible how much power and control the government has over the our perceptions of our consciousness, and its incredibly disappointing and infuriating learning how corrupt their intentions are.


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