Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where are our black leaders?

When I was a little girl, my parents were very Afro centric.  They were pretty cool in the 70’s with their afros and were always up with the fashions of the time.  More importantly, they were socially conscious and I often found myself in the midst of some heated conversations about what was going on in the 70’s – politically, socially and economically.  We were far from rich, but we never missed a meal, always had fun things to do and even received a weekly allowance.  My mom always said we were poor but her kids would never know it – and we didn’t.

My mom was very politically active and “up with the people”.  She was always at the forefront of voter registration drives and anything that had to do with the city workers union,  that’s where you could find her.   She had a burning passion for justice and equality for all people.  So at an early age, I decided that when I grew up, I was going to be a Black Panther or work for the NAACP or some other “black” organization where I would work hard to help black people obtain the equality that America promised to all of its citizens

When I became a teenager and was forced by my mother to attend a predominantly white catholic school I couldn’t believe it!  Here this racially conscious, dare I say even “radical” black woman who raised me that way is making me go to the white institution?   The same institution where I had attended a fun fair kinda thing with my older brother (who attended that institution at the time) and my cousins, only to be put off the premises by the priest because of an altercation between my brother and male cousins and some sloppy looking white football players who were clearly plastered!  That didn’t matter.  Another thing about my mother:  when she decided on something that was it.  Period.  So off I went for 4 years at a predominantly white institution where I learned that while not  all white people were not mean and nasty towards blacks, racism and prejudice were definitely still alive and kicking in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  I had a hard time during those 4 years, but somehow still managed to graduate with 2nd honors, but was always on disciplinary probation; mostly because of my outspokenness.

The years went by – 80’s, 90’s and by now, I’m a mommy myself.  On the surface, it appeared that blacks had progressed, but when you pulled back a layer, you could still see major disparities in the areas of employment, health, education, access to healthy food, etc..  Even if you were employed there was still a disparity in the income level of blacks vs. whites.  Even if you were blessed to live near a supermarket, there was still disparity in the quality of food sold.  None of this affected me directly.  I lived a sheltered life that was primarily focused on raising my children.  I drove all over and shopped all over, just like my mother before me.  Blacks were in good political positions in where I lived (Philadelphia, PA) Blacks were beginning to open and operate their own businesses.  Life around me personally was good.   It really wasn’t until I ventured back into corporate America that racism and prejudice knocked me clear upside my head again – and it was now the dawn of a new millennium.
Usher in the year 2000 – the year when the most controversial presidential election of the U.S. occurred and ended with a questionable win (or steal) by George W. Bush.  Where were our black leaders and organizations?  I can’t remember hearing too much from them then.  My ex-husband and I were running a pretty successful construction company and my life was full.  Then…we began to feel racism at it’s best.  Ain’t nothing BUT racism in the construction industry - from the bottom to the top -  and boy oh boy did I get it up close and personal.
By now my passion for wanting to work for one of those organizations had begun to resurface.Long gone was Cecil B. Moore.  David P. Richardson had also been laid to rest.  These were two of my favorite local political heroes.  I’ve not had one since Dave Richardson.  There was no place for us to turn to help us with the economic murder plot that we were experiencing.  Everyone had pretty much sold out or just got out.
In 2001 I found myself working at the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA NJ and DE.  It was my dream job.   It was a place where I had a chance to meet people from all walks of life and where I felt I was making a difference in my community, city and world.  We worked with grassroots organizations and even successfully boycotted the Philadelphia Daily News because of their unfair news coverage of blacks.  II even got to work together with other “black organizations” and leaders and it was a good feeling.
2012.  We now have a President whose skin color and half of his ancestry hails not from a European descent.  The disparities are still there and may be even worse than before.   Where are our black leaders and organizations?  They haven’t gotten together with and agenda to present to the president to address the issues that are relevant to us.  Then when someone questions them their response is “He’s president of ALL U.S. citizens; not just blacks.”  WTH?  It’s beginning to sound like a pre-recorded and embedded message that they’ve been programmed to say.  Even the first POTUS must be wondering where our black leaders are.  He surly didn’t think they were at the most recent NAACP convention because he didn’t even bother to attend. 
And if our black leaders were not at the NAACP convention; the convention hosted by ( I think) the oldest black organization in these United States; and organization whose mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination".  If our black leaders weren’t there, then where are they???
Today, the little girl in me is sad.  Sad that there are still so many disparities in existence.  Sad that is still a need for black leadership.  But most of all she is sad about the lack of leadership among her people.

Interesting articles on this topic:

Black Agenda Has Fallen By The Wayside.
Making The Results Match the Rhetoric.

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