Message to the Community
Every community, people, or group needs leadership, especially in the United States of America where only the strongest will survive. If you don’t have leadership, you will fall behind and others will overtake you in the economic race. American leadership can be seen at so many levels, including, but not limited to public and government, private industry, philanthropic, financial, education, LBGT, women, unions, religious, and numerous special interest groups. All are vying to advance their agenda many times at the demise of some other opposing group or agenda. Our problem is we have equated leadership with following a man or individual (savior syndrome) and nothing could be further from the truth. The leadership we need and must develop is “collective” leadership that is derived when we can establish “functional” unity.
I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I must continue to restate the obvious – the Black community is completely out of position and unable to defend and/or advance itself socially and economically. Who has been the chief opponent of the Black man in America (White Supremacist)? While the outward campaign for being an avowed racist has diminished in America, the sting of racism is worse now than before. The philosophy and methodology of the racist have been integrated within American infrastructure, systems, and institutions, making Black leadership essential.
Today, given the enormous climb the Black community must make under overwhelming challenges, the Black community is leaderless. All of these attacks undermine the self-determination of Black people. If the Black challenge was likened to a prize fight, it would look like a mature and skilled “heavyweight” (America Institutions) fighting and destroying a skinny, unskilled featherweight (Black community). The fight would be called “Technical Knockout” because, while we don’t go down, we continue to take a severe beating. I know there are some who say we are making progress and they point to individual” accomplishments – yes we have made tremendous progress as individuals but, as a group, we are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Our community is out of position by design.
The Black community is out of position because our foundation, the Black family, has been broken by design. The American infrastructure, not only fails to support economic needs of the Black community, in many cases they are the antagonist. The Black family is out of position because the Black man and Black woman are out of position in their roles and responsibilities. They have been historically divided and the corrupt systems and policies now favor Black women over Black men. The ultimate test that the Black community is out of position can be seen in the Black man’s inability to be the true leader of the Black family and Black community; the Black man has been thoroughly and totally broken.
In far too many cases in America, the Black man is unable to be the leader, provider (breadwinner), and protector of his family and community. This has caused irreparable harm to the male/female relationship. While this is not a new phenomenon, it has worsened over the past 50 years. Combined with the high level of unemployment and underemployment for a significant population of Black men (nearly 45-60%), it’s staggering. Black men are under attack from every socio-economic angle (nearly 2/3 subjected by the prison industrial complex), making him more stressed than any other group in America. This is evidenced by the disparaging levels of health disparities, depression, drug addiction, domestic violence, family abandonment, and death. Recently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) formally announced a new cause of death for Black men “Legal Intervention” death caused by police. For many Black men, these and other issues threaten their ability to deal with our women and ultimately contribute to the demise of the Black family.
Black leadership is absolutely needed, but not the leadership we’ve been seeing. We must have a leadership paradigm shift. Leadership of any kind (not just individuals) will have the characteristics of honesty, integrity, and trust (the number one issue most Black people say is our issue). Honest leadership reflects transparency, openness and a willingness to communicate what you’re thinking or feeling, even when doing this is uncomfortable or unpopular. Honest leadership will listen and discuss issues before the decisions are not yet final and will keep their word. Integrity leadership reflects the courage to speak up when your point of view is at odds with the powers to be or sometimes the majority (someone must tell the truth). Trust leadership is based on a knowledge, comfort, or feeling someone will have your back even when you’re not there and having the confidence that our leadership will act in our best interest over their own person goals and agenda.
This isn’t about individual leaders; this applies to collective leadership. Ask yourself, for the thousands of people who are leading interest of groups in America, we don’t know them and will never know them. It’s not the individual that they are promoting. The group is the leadership and the group has the agenda. In many respects, the Black community has been betrayed or woefully misled, mainly by poor and narrow leadership concepts. We’re waiting for an individual. The Black community must have leadership that is able to foreworn our community against real and perceived threats. Leadership that can navigate and inculcate during a period of crisis. Leadership that can develop programs and strategies to mitigate and/or correct those threats and periods of crisis. Given the state of the Black affairs in America, it’s very clear Black leadership is non-existent, and at best, extremely unintelligible. If you were in a car and it veered out of control and into the on-going traffic going in the opposite direction, there would be a need to get your hands on the steering wheel (who amongst us can take the wheel?).
We must ask ourselves who is responsible and accountable for correcting the ills facing the Black community; who is the leader of the Black Community in America? If you can’t answer that question with authority, like I can’t, your answer must be that we don’t have one. What we have is a number of individuals and organizations who believe or think they are our leaders, yet they refuse to accept any level of accountability or they refuse to accept their woeful limitations. This type of behavior has not only comprised the Black movement and struggle, but it has also betrayed the Black community. Yes, we have many good things happening in different cities across the country, but the needle isn’t moving and all key demographics are moving in the wrong direction. Here is my basic premise regarding the Black leadership we must have:
IF YOU’RE NOT DEMANDING THAT WE OVERCOME INDIVIDUALISM, TRIBALISM, AND A FALSE SENSE OF THINKING THAT “I” OR “MY” ORGANIZATION CAN SAVE MY PEOPLE AND THAT YOUR’E DOING ALL YOU CAN TO ORGANIZE AND UNITE OUR CAPACITY;
IF YOU’RE NOT UNDERSTANDING THE OUT POSITION OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY AND THE NEED FOR THE BLACK MAN TO REALLY LOCK ARMS AND BEGIN TO WORK TOGETHER; AND
IF YOU’RE NOT DOING THE ABOVE AND ALSO PROMOTING AN ECONOMIC AGENDA FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY – YOU CAN’T BE A BLACK LEADER. YOUR ACTIONS, IN MANY RESPECTS, ARE A BETRAYAL TO OUR COMMUNITY.
Next week in Part 3 we will breakdown each of these areas.