Booker T Washington implied that political and social power cannot exist without economic power.  Do you agree or disagree?  Essay response.

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Booker Washington wanted to get along with whites, who were often very resistant during his period of prominence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to allowing blacks the same political and social rights and freedoms that whites enjoyed. Rather than get into open contention over these civil rights issues, Washington decided that blacks should build their power base economically, by accumulating wealth through hard work and savings. Once they had become wealthier, he believed, they would command respect and could obtain political and social equality.

To a large extent it is true that money means power in U.S. society, so Washington was not wrong in wanting to build the black economic base. Hs mistake was to focus on that goal exclusively when the ability to accumulate wealth is deeply entwined with having social and political power. For example, people often learn about business deals and opportunities through social connections; segregation, a form of social disempowerment, meant blacks were denied access to economic gains. Likewise, laws are not neutral, and legislation that enforced racism also blocked black economic growth. Washington would have been better advised to pursue all three goals at once, even though it would have antagonized whites.

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Here on eNotes, we cannot write essay responses for you.  However, we can give you ideas about how to write your own essay responses.  In this case, I will provide you with some arguments for each side of this argument.  You should decide which side you agree with.  You should then write your essay, presenting first the side you do not agree with and then the side you do.

On the one side, you can say that economic power has to come first.  In this country, people equate economic success with worthiness.  In other words, they do not believe that individuals (or groups) are worthy of respect unless they are economically successful.  This means that you have to have economic success in order to get political and social success.  Also, you need to have money to get political and social power in this country.  You cannot have political power unless you have money to donate to politicians or to use to run ads on TV.  You cannot have social power as a group unless you have enough money to make companies want your business.  All of this means that economic power comes first and that social and political power only come later.

On the other hand, you can say that all of this is wrong.  The US is a democracy.  If you have enough people in your group who vote, politicians will have to pay attention to them.  This will be true because voters can determine whether you win or lose an election even if they do not have money.  You can also get social power without having much money.  People from your group can become influential in areas such as the arts, which will give your group more social power.  For example, African Americans were able to gain more social power as people like Louis Armstrong and Joe Louis became prominent.  They also got more serious kinds of social power from the rise of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. who helped cause white Americans to treat African Americans with more respect.  These types of progress do not rely on economic power to drive them.

So, which of these arguments makes more sense to you?  Pick one and create an essay by expanding on it. 

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