Amos Nelson Wilson was an African-American theoretical psychologist and social theorist, who had a different perception of racism. He believed that the challenges encountered by the blacks were simply power differentials and a major social problem of the 21st century.
Wilson also believed that racism was a structurally and institutionally driven phenomenon deduced from the inequities of power relations between groups, and could persist even if and when more overt expressions of it were no longer in existence. Racism, then, could only be neutralized by transforming society structurally and the system of power relations.
Wilson was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1941, and completed his undergraduate degree at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Thereafter, he went to New York to attain his PhD degree from Fordham University.
Wilson had a different view on racism and powers. He was of the opinion that the vast power differentials between Africans and non-Africans was the major social problem of the contemporary world. He believed that these power differentials, and not simply racist attitudes, was chiefly responsible for the existence of racism, and the continuing domination of people of African descent across the world.
“White people exercise racism because they have the power to do so.”
As a Pan-African thinker, scholar, author and a professor of psychology at the City University of New York, Wilson felt that the social, political and economic problems that Blacks encounter on daily basis, were unlike those of other ethnic minority; and thus, he argued that the concept of “equal education” ought to be abandoned in favor of a philosophy and approach appropriate to their own needs.
He posits that the purpose of education and intelligence was to address the problems particular to a people and nation, and to secure that people and nation’s biological survival. Any philosophy of education or approach which failed to do so was inadequate.
Wilson further argued that the mythical notion of progress to which many Blacks subscribe to, was a false one; that integration could only happen and persist, as a social-economic reality, as long as the U.S. and global economies continued to expand. If such an economic situation were ever to reverse, or change for the worse, then the concomitant of the change could be increase in racial conflict.
However, he urged blacks to reconsider disintegration as a realistic possibility to prepare for all hypothetical scenarios with the understanding that integration was not guaranteed to last forever.