To begin with it is a shame that within the context of the most powerful and wealthy nation on earth (supposedly built upon the principles of freedom) – more than FIVE HUNDRED YEARS after her inception
that a race of people there within find themselves needing to be “led” due to oppressive circumstances. That in and of itself is a sad commentary on race in America. Black America to this day is in a precarious situation which has perpetuated itself for centuries without ever having been resolved because of various forms of opposition to progress that have been omnipresent at every turn of the mighty struggle that is the fight for justice and equality in America.
White America on the other hand has never had to wrestle with this profound dilemma. I don’t say that to elicit guilt (necessarily) or to simply moan and complain – this is just a fact! Every political structure – economic apparatus – social normative has been in its distinct favor in every conceivable form during the entirety of this so-called American experiment. There has therefore been no need whatsoever for white Americans to even conceive of having to designate a leader outside of those who are a part of conventional power structures because they have always known that those actors will never violate their best interests as a race. Black and brown Americans on the other hand have always known that those very same conventional power structures do not have their best interests in mind – either by design or default.
It is for all of these reasons and more that various members of the modern day black community make attempts to step to the forefront and try to galvanize black Americans as they push forward an agenda that they believe will promote progress in this country. The question today though is: who exactly is it that is the leader of this freedom movement and what should their agenda be? This is especially crucial in present day America where we are lacking overall leadership – generally speaking – in this country as well. The current administration in the White House is chaotic at best. And the head of that Administration has chosen to utilize his bully pulpit to promote division and berate just about anyone who does not share his skin tone. In the middle of all of THAT black people are still searching for their ever elusive civil rights and forced to find leadership in a “leaderless world”.
Today it seems that we have SO many different organizations or entities – many who have great intentions no doubt – (but) who are all sort of doing their own thing. Not only that but we also have individuals that though they certainly should be welcomed (even encouraged) to lend their voices and platforms to “the cause” – they are not necessarily civic leaders equipped to speak for and guide Black America in the direction we need to go. Imagine if you will: Tom Brady or Adam Sandler or Justin Bieber or Blake Shelton being responsible for leading the initiatives of White America. It sounds ridiculous, but this is essentially what happens when Lebron James or Steve Harvey or John Legend or Charles Barkley try to lead the way or speak for black people. And outside of those individuals we have the Black Lives Matters and the Jesse Jacksons and the NAACPs of the world raising their own battle cries. And so as a black man in America I have to be honest… I have not a clue as to who is supposed to be the captain of this ship?!
To be honest I do not believe any of the above ought to be ultimately responsible for spearheading a much needed movement – a movement that would entail a specific and clear agenda. Lebron James is a fantastic athlete who is certainly intelligent and socially conscious, but he cannot be the one on whom Black America relies (though I must say he was awesome in his press conference a couple Mondays ago!) Instead of relying on the best athletes or singers to lead the way – we must create a scenario where we have our best and brightest – including athletes too incidentally (and not just black people by the way) – under “one roof” and led by one leader who is calling the shots. We need a leader with vision who is able to bring people together and who is seeking solely to serve and speak for those who are suffering from the social ills of inequality. This it seems to me is a critical piece that is missing in the complex equation that we need to solve @ racism in America.
Before I let you go can I just say this: we will know that black America has reached the point of equality when we enjoy what is currently – though many try to deny it… “White Privilege”. We will know we have reached the point of equality when we – like White America – do not need a “designated leader” to speak out against oppression. When it will sound just as ridiculous to suggest that an entertainer could be the leader of Black America as it does to suggest that Lady GaGa is the leader of White America. We will know we have arrived when like White America we can be confidant that public policy and politicians have our best interests as a race in mind. When it doesn’t even begin to cross our mind that the American institutions and infrastructure could possibly be against us based on the color of our skin. Don’t look now, but that sounds like a true democracy. Go figure.
Side Note: The NFL athletes who are being pressured to conform to the very same system that oppresses people who look like them are a prime example of why all of the above is so important. While many of them are intelligent – informed – they are still very young and are athletes by occupation. These various players are certainly courageous to kneel despite the backlash that is a result of White Supremacy in America – and should continue their fight – but they should not be ALONE in this struggle for equality. We need a centralized civil-rights coalition to take shape and lead the way. NOW is the time.
Oreos to go: The aforementioned press conference featuring Lebron:
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.