Last month, a certain quote from the Rev. Al Sharpton caught my eye during the Shirley Sherrod debacle. Sherrod was wrongly fired from her USDA position after political hack-job blogger Andrew Breitbart spliced and diced her speech into a racist soundbite, devoid of the entire text of her 48-minute address.
Black leaders piled on Wednesday. The Rev. Jesse Jackson already had called on the administration to apologize and reinstate Sherrod to her job, if she wanted it. The Congressional Black Caucus, which includes 42 members of Congress, called for Sherrod to be reinstated immediately, saying Vilsack overreacted.
Soon after, the Rev. Al Sharpton said black leaders should refrain from calling on the administration to apologize, saying that creates the impression that black leadership is fractured. “We are only greasing the rails for the right wing to run a train through our ambitions and goals for having civil and human rights in this country,” Sharpton said.
-courtesy of the Associated Press, hosted by the Alliance (OH) “The Review”
Here’s a news flash, Al: the current black leadership is fractured and needs to be addressed in public. And that is a good thing. Why? Because it forces the old guard to open up and see that they haven’t evolved with the times and that their power base is eroding. People want either two things: a leader who can evolve with change and time, or someone new that will do that.
Corruption is abound: Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel are under Congressional ethics investigations, just like their fellow Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
High-ranking elected officials like Shelia Dixon, Bill Campbell, Sharpe James, and Kwame Kilpatrick being indicted for tax evasion, fraud, and corruption, and turning their City Halls into a modern-day Tammany Hall and Pendergast Machine.
Older black leaders are resistant to accept newer challenges in the black community, resorting to keep using the Civil Rights era as a reason to stay in power. There are new challenges in the black community besides fighting discrimination such as a lack of technology skills, the socioeconomical divide is getting bigger, and no real progressive direction for the younger generation to strive for.
It also doesn’t help that not many older leaders are cultivating and grooming younger successors, unless if it’s their own children (Jesse Jackson Jr., and Harold Ford Jr., to name a few). If the Kennedys and the Bushes can use the family tree to gain stake-hold in politics, so can the Jacksons and the Fords.
In truth, it’s better to admit that the system is broken and take criticism than to deny it and hide behind a curtain for fear that it would be used against them. The black community should demand and expect their leaders to start being transparent and look at new ideas and tactics as a way to help their constituents.