(NNPA)—As the NAACP and the National Urban League, the supposed premier civil rights groups in the United States, gather this week and next for their annual conventions, this is as good as time as any to challenge their agendas.


We can begin with some questions: When civil rights are discussed in the media, you never have the reporter define what civil rights are? When you see Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton described as civil rights leaders, what does that really mean? Who made them leaders and what is their leadership based on?

How did civil rights come to mean protections and rights based on sexual preference, gender identity, and illegal status in a country? If civil rights theory is based on the protection of the individual and his rights, how do you explain the constant demand for inclusion in the definition of civil rights by all kinds based on group identity?

For example, we have the NAACP and the National Urban League expending precious political capital on extraneous issues such as seeking equal rights for illegal immigrants. They want illegals to have every right that citizens have, including access to social programs, driver’s licenses, and in-state tuition for colleges and universities.

What sense does it make to give benefits to members of a certain group—American citizens—and then to allow someone who is not a member to get the same benefit? That’s insane. Can you imagine a non-member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame demanding the same benefits as a member? They would be run out of court if they petitioned for such a benefit.

Are civil rights a “universal” right and who gets to define what those rights are? There are a lot of Muslim women in the Middle East who don’t want women to be able to dress like a “modern” woman, or have the right to vote. A perfect example is Saudi Arabia. While there is some demand for reform, there is significant support for the status quo. Who’s right?

The NAACP and the National Urban League have both lost their way. They have strayed way off course from their original vision. Could this be, unlike the days of old, why high profile professional athletes have no relationship with these groups? Could this be why people like me will never join these groups? The NAACP and the National Urban League are unofficial arms of the Democratic National Committee, though each claims to be non-partisan.

If you go to their Web sites and look at who is paying for their conventions, you’ll see a Who’s Who of White corporate America. But, why is there no financial support listed from any of the most successful Black businessmen in this country? People like Earl Graves (publisher of Black Enterprise, Dave Stewart, CEO of World Wide Technology or Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former NBA great and successful businessman. If you can’t get support from within your community, how can you make the case for someone outside of your community to support you? In other words, do you have “skin” in the game?

Maybe there is a reason for this lack of support. Maybe these groups are not saying or doing anything that is relevant to these individuals or companies. Political or financial capital tends to go where there is a need and where there is some hope of a return on investment. What do these corporations get in return, other than “race” insurance?

While the Black unemployment rate continues to linger around 14 percent, these groups are fighting to legalize 20 million illegals who are going to compete for low-skilled jobs with the very people these groups claim to represent. While the Black family is disintegrating right before our eyes, these groups are focusing on homosexual rights, another sign they are out of touch with the Black community.

The first Black president is also out of touch with the people who gave him 96 percent of their vote. Yet, these groups remain silent. Or worse, they jockey to see who can get the president or his top cabinet members to appear before their annual convention. If these two groups disappeared tomorrow, would our community be any worse off? I’ll let you answer that question for yourself.

So, while these groups are spending millions of dollars for their conventions over the next two weeks, what are they doing to shore up the economic infrastructure of our community? Would our community be better off if they skipped those annual gatherings and invested it in our inner cities?

What is the relevance of these groups to our community if their mission continues to drift away from their core purpose? In the military, this is called “mission creep.” I fully believe organizations must evolve to remain relevant; but you can’t allow the organization to morph into something that is not part of the core mission.

And that’s exactly what they have done.

(Raynard Jackson’s website is: http://www.raynardjackson.com.)

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