Re-thinking Black leadership, Part II

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We have numerous groups and organizations throughout the country that claim to speak for and represent the interest of the Black community, locally and nationally. Why such ineffectiveness and ineptitude? Too many of our groups and Black “leaders” are not independent themselves, so they are unable to forcefully advocate ideas, strategies and programs that are really in the best interest of Black people.

Much of this is connected to the unproductive and thoughtless allegiance we have to the national Democratic Party machine. A political party, which over the last two decades has consistently pushed an agenda that is geared toward the liberal White establishment and the White middle class.

Issues that are very specific to the Black social reality are conspicuously omitted for inclusion in any national platform presentation or discourse. For example, during recent presidential and congressional campaigns, there was no discussion regarding community violence, mass incarceration, police misconduct or plans to address Black unemployment (which has consistently doubled the national average).

This political disposition is transmitted to local politicos, hence oftentimes making it even more difficult and challenging for progressive politicians and activists to push forward transformative platforms and legislative initiatives. I’m describing initiatives that radically transform power relationships and empower the Black community, among others.

A local example would be the proposed legislation for police accountability. Also, the demand that District Attorney Zappala charge the three White Pittsburgh police officers who viciously beat former CAPA student Jordan Miles.

Another compromising element which further restrains and controls genuine Black leadership are the numerous corporate sponsorships and endorsements. This is particularly true of our larger, traditional and national civil rights organizations. The ‘Fortune 500’ are comprised of some of the most racist and sexist businesses in the nation. Yet, we continue to seek major endorsements and financial support from companies that routinely are reluctant to hire us, and, if they do, are quicker to fire us.

We have more of the same within the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. Folks who started out as sincere and passionate advocates for social justice now pander to the dictates of neo-progressive philanthropists. My view is that the majority of these philanthropists and grant-makers would rather ‘feel good’ and experience ‘self-actualization’ than be living witness to independent and dynamic Black families and communities.

Some non-profit leaders are so fearful of the funding establishments rebuke, they don’t make a sound. They preoccupy themselves with providing services to the “marginalized and at- risk populations.” They aren’t concerned with changing the conditions that created the risk and marginalization to begin with. They don’t support groups and initiatives deemed too radical, and will actively discourage other non-profits from mutual association and support.

And certainly within the nonprofit sector, we have no shortage of poverty-pimps, opportunists, charlatans and parasites that prey on the misery of Black people. They have no shame and will use whatever is convenient to advance their mostly personal and selfish agendas. Whether draped in the garb of traditional civil rights or afro-centrism, they are adept at deception and misguidance. Their inflated egos are equally matched with their inflated salaries.

They have no conscience whatsoever and will pimp the Black community as long as they are allowed. These folks are not original thinkers at all. They latch on to whatever funders or bureaucrats declare as popular; substance abuse, gang violence, homelessness, or children of incarcerated parents. They have never seen a Request for Proposals they didn’t like.

In conclusion, we must correctly define the central challenge and obstacle to both the immediate survival and long-term development of Black people in Allegheny County and throughout the United States. We must initiate and develop principled unity among and between a catalytic core of sincere and mission-driven Black leaders. We need a “talented tenth” of activists, organizers, entrepreneurs, parents, youth, public servants, business leaders, scholars, clergy, etc. who are unafraid to develop and pursue a Black agenda.

Black people are in dire need of a revolutionary paradigm shift. Such a shift will most definitely help us in analyzing our communities, friends, foes and leadership. A failure to do so will continue to result in anger, frustration, ineffectiveness, mistrust and prolonged defeat.

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