Joe Boates

Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type



The Five Percent Nation is a radical and secretive social movement comprised of African-American members operating in the large cities and prisons of the United States. They possess strong ethnocentric ideas about the society they live in and what factors lead it to become this way. Although they are still a new movement, the Nation has found a considerable following among the young, Black, urban, communities in America. The Five Percent Nation was preceded by American Black Islamist and separatist movements, such as The Nation oflslam(NOI), and they borrowed many NOI ideas about a society dominated by an oppressive white majority, but the Nation also formed a complex belief system of their on in an attempt to better explain their social position. These beliefs took the form of mythology, what they call a science, and general distrust of white establishment. The mythological ideology of the Five Percent Nation depicts the Caucasian race as inherently evil and mentally inferior to the Black man, and goes on to explain how the white race achieved their position of authority and power through the trickery and exploitation of other races, particularly Blacks. Although their ideas may be difficult to accept, one must question what caused the Nation to develop these negative sentiments about white people, and why are these ideas so appealing to such a large number of African-Americans in the United States. The ideas of the Five Percent Nation are no accident or coincidence. AfricanAmericans have experienced an unbelievable amount of discrimination, persecution, and oppression, in modern America. Decades after the time of forced bondage Blacks are still placed in underprivileged positions in American society. They are forced to endure institutionally racist policies from the government and withstand the effort of a corrupted and racist system of justice and law enforcement. Furthermore, the capitalistic structure of the economy in the United States has fostered the growth of separation between the rich and the poor in this country. As the middle class quickly disappears, the wealthy enjoy increasing and substantial privilege while the poor find themselves in positions of desperation and social stagnation. It is the central contention of this paper that the social structure of the United States caused the emergence of the Five Percent Nation and is the dominant factor in shaping their ideology. So the question presents itself: In what ways did the structure of America society shape and produce the Five Percent Nation? The answer is to come.