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Comments by YACCS
Monday, October 17, 2005

Who leads black America?

People showed up for a reason

Oliver Willis posted this

I think it’s past time for there to be a changing of the guard in black leadership in America. People like Farrakhan, Sharpton and Jackson are no better than hustlers, bigots, and crooks. There are hundreds of black leaders who believe in improving the lives of black Americans, and America in general, but the media keeps giving time to the Axis of Irrelevancy.

It’s time that stopped.

Dear Oliver,

There is a simple reason people still respect these folks, and I'm surprised it eludes you.

They actually speak out.

Now, it may please your friends to deride these people, but the reality is that when the NYPD shoots black people, it's Al Sharpton who is in the street and working with the community. Not our elected officials, who veer away from these issues like it was a bird flu infected Indonesian market. These people have power, not because you or I like or agree with it, but because the majority of fellow African Americans feel they represent their views.

The Millions More march could only happen under the aegis of a Farrakhan, despite the fact that the vast majority of black people disagree with his views, because he is supremely organized and disciplined. And people respect his uncompromising stands, even if they are unimpressed with Nation of Islam dogma.

When people ask Rev. Jackson for help, he comes. Whether it's North Carolina or New Orleans. He doesn't have to poisition himself or deal with the Democratic leadership.

Where are these hundreds of black leaders? When do they show up? When black children are shot by the police, you don't see Barack Obama with the family, do you? For all the attacks on Sharpton, when people have real crises, he's there. These so-called leaders are not. They seem to be afraid of their own shadows.

You do not gain respect with speeches. You have to confront the system and many of these so-called leaders are more than willing to live in Sharpton's shadow and hand him power. There are many younger leaders here in New York, but Sharpton, who was once one of the young leaders, did what they would not, go in the street and risk their lives. Sharpton was stabbed in Bensonhurst. Even Diddy is more willing to extend himself tham some of our political leaders.

The problem is that we have a generation of timid leaders, people like Donna Brazile, who take Bush at his word, which given her experience, is amazing. Or William Jefferson, who made sure the Guard got his files out before the FBI stopped by.

You want a changing of the guard, you need to have someone to change. You don't see Obama running into that void, do you? He's more focused on pissing off as few as people as possible and sitting in the White House.

The fact is that the people you name have broad based support within black America, not because people like everything they do, but that they know when the chips are down. In an era where the black middle class have walked away from their poor relatives, and the black church is for sale, with many of it's leading lights more interested in getting government money and supporting the most disliked president to black people since polling began, who are people supposed to turn to? People who make you feel comfortable? There is a picture of TD Jakes and the President meeting a black family. The mother was ok, but the father looked like he was ready to explode. He knew he was watching an act of betrayal.

People become leaders because they lead, not because they do or say everything you like. They are leaders because when you get in trouble, they actually bother to help you, not worry about reelection.

Then you have the sellouts like John McWhorter, eager to become the vassals of white racists for money, and because they are uncomfortable in their own skin. They want to be rich by stabbing black people in the back.

The media didn't create these people, circumstance did. They became leaders because our elected officials refused the job. They defer to them, because it is easier to let them carry the ball.

If these other people would speak up, and not hide behind the likes of Sharpton, et al, then they could lead. Kanye West showed more political courage in 30 seconds than most black political officials do in their entire careers.

These other people don't get on camera because they don't bother to. Remember, the NOI called that march and the entire spectrum of black leadership responded, people who clearly disagree with the Nation's conservative stands. Before condeming them, you might want to understand why they would show.My take on it is that while most people disagree with the NOI, and find their quasi-military routine silly, they know they aren't going to be taking money from Bush next week and parading homophobia (and the Nation is deeply homophobic) as a virtue.

Leadership is earned and often by doing the hard, dirty and unpopular. Despite their faults, Sharpton and Jackson do that. The politicians who carp about their leadership do not.

posted by Steve @ 7:03:00 PM

7:03:00 PM

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