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Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

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I find much of current black leadership sadly out of touch with the present-day needs of black Americans. These leaders—and their unconsidered, ill-fated followers are entrenched in now-antiquated strategies and philosophies that were most useful when civil rights were at the fore of black consciousness and struggles. Ironically, upward mobility, a goal of the civil rights movement, has now pushed advancers outside the Black community or peripheral to it. To many persons inside and outside black communities only those who are struggling economically, socially, and politically are truly black.

I daresay black leaders and organizations always have been unable to represent all black persons. No single perspective can possibly address all the sub- groups that make up black Americans, or any other group. Few upwardly mobile black persons feel the need to be led. By letting others make our decisions or control our actions, responsibility for any possible failure is avoided.

If black communities must have leaders, then it is crucially important that the helms be influenced by a variety of navigators. Otherwise, we are largely destined and restricted to follow one invariant, unalterable, and limiting course.


Key Takeaways:

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The strategies and philosophies were most useful when civil rights are exhausted and atrophied, their power to influence and effect change has long been dissipated. Sadly, despite their impotence, many of us still rise to the call to arms. Familiarity, rather than efficacy, motivates us.

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The promise of upward mobility has dis- placed the obliqueness of civil rights. Today, civil rights have become (and rightfully so) a secondary or tertiary concern for many black persons. For them, economic, political, and social advancement have been realized.

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Historically, black churches played an integral role in providing leadership for our communities. Their philosophies embraced the downtrodden. Such notions were probably quite attractive to an oppressed people. Today, upwardly mobile black persons are rarely sedated by these promises in their quest for present-world rewards. Unfortunately, in the minds of many, it is more comfortable to be led. By letting others make our decisions or control our actions, responsibility for any possible failure is avoided.

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If black communities must have leaders, then it is crucially important that the helms be influenced by a variety of navigators, to include: Politicians, social scientists, lawyers, economists and religious leaders. Otherwise, we are largely destined and restricted to follow one invariant, unalterable, and limiting course.