Saturday, March 20, 2010
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown: Fighting to be the King of Black America.
The leadership vacuum in Black America has left us with an over abundance of understudies. I still don’t know why black folks are running around still looking to be led. We seem to be the only minority group in America that wants to be told what to do. I say screw that!! But apparently I’ve been outnumbered by the mainstream media and some black folks.
On March 21st, Tavis Smiley is black in business with the “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.” Smiley is back pushing the concept of an African American agenda but this time it’s in the era of The Real 1st Black President. Smiley is one of Presidents Obama’s fiercest critics when it comes to what’s not being done for black folks. Smiley’s tirade (to anyone who will listen) has caused great angst among Obama’s Fans. Smiley has even been accused of having the “Crab in a Barrel” mentality when it comes to Obama. Smiley says that his issues with Obama are not personal but the location of today’s event tells a different story. The Black Agenda event is being held at Chicago Statue University which is in the President’s hometown of Chicago. I guess he couldn’t secure a spot on the White House lawn. The participants for this event have also publically disagreed with Obama. Smiley has Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson and Julianne Malveaux stopping by to put their two cents in. And just for good measure he invited Chicago’s own the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Once again C-SPAN is going to broadcast the event so black folks all over America can tune in. It ain’t Soul Train but it should provide great theatre.
On April 17th, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s organization is having their National Convention. Sharpton’s organization – National Action Network will implement a 12-Month Action Plan that emphasizes accountability. Sharpton won’t admit this but that’s an obvious dig at Smiley who is known for pushing agenda’s without any follow up. Sharpton has been portrayed as being Obama’s lackey for showing up at the White House for photo ops. Critics are wondering why he won’t hold Obama’s feet to the fire regarding black issues. I guess the 12-Month Action Plan is suppose to silence the naysayers and pundits. Sharpton has Warren Ballentine, Marc Morial, Dr. Charles Ogletree, and Ben Jealous coming to his National Convention. The participants for this event have been supporters of Obama from early on but they do have some issues with some of his decisions. Many of them err on the side of diplomacy and want to work with Obama to get things done. It probably won’t be as sexy (television wise) because of boring Ben Jealous but Sharpton is advertising an Action Plan.
Last month Smiley and Sharpton fell out over this very issue. Smiley was popping his gums on Tom Joyner’s Show questioning “Black Leaders” that don’t push Obama on a black agenda. It’s obvious that Sharpton was upset because when he called Smiley the same day he didn’t pull any punches. The exchange created a back and forth that became the talk of the negronet and more recently the mainstream media. In the beginning, it was funny and good for dinner table talk. This thing has been drawn out (mostly by Sharpton.....yep they talked about this on his radio show for 2 weeks) for too long now. I’m starting to wish that they had of talked about this behind closed doors. The last straw for me was when they both started quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. took a lot of whoopings in his life in order for blacks to currently act like fools. He didn’t want the job in the beginning and I don’t blame him. Trying to save black folks from THE MAN and themselves must have been hard. It’s easier giving an angry crack riddled goat an enema. All of his sacrifice and some of us won’t even come out to vote for our own interests. MLK took the job because of something that the rest of us will never understand. He did a good job with it too. He fought for everything that he preached about and ended up dying for the cause. Ever since then, every black dude within a whisker of civil rights wants to take his spot. The Rev. Jesse Jackson was auditioning for the job but he proved to be a major disappointment. MLK = Civil Rights / Jackson = Ambulance Chaser. I don’t know if Shirley Chisholm wanted the gig but because she was a woman that meant her chances were slim. Yes, Civil Rights aren’t all that civil....sexism is everywhere.
So in 2010 what do we have? You have Sharpton and Smiley positioning to be the future power broker for all of black America. They might not have wanted it (but I would be lying if I didn’t think one of them did) but their actions have given notice that they are ready for the crown. But what does it mean to be appointed “King of Negros” by the mainstream media? The world is changing and black folks in 2010 are a lot different from black folks in 1960. We are not a monolithic race that can be lumped into one package. The problem is that sometimes the callers on black radio give listeners the opinion that we all think alike. This promotes mass advocacy that includes rallying behind events concerning black folks. The mainstream media then takes this and runs with it. Then anytime an issue happens with “Black America” they call on the loudest black person in the room. Don’t get me wrong because there can be some positives that come with black advocacy. A good thing is when people demonstrate against police brutality. But a negative thing would be people supporting Tawana Brawley. There are times to come together for a common cause but we really don’t need one person to beat the drum. We have groups like The Color of Change to create a conscious spark that can lead to something bigger. Unlike the dated National Association for the Advancement of Color People, Color of Change uses social networking to mobilize people. But if you have noticed, no one from The Color of Change has stepped out into the spotlight to audition for MLK’s spot.
I sometimes wonder what MLK would think about all this positioning to be his successor. It seems like everyone wants the prestige but do they really want the discomfort from it. MLK’s children suffered from his being gone often and his early death. His wife was left alone to raise their children. He made very little money so his family wasn’t rich when he died. His cause wasn’t about having a radio show or selling books but something greater. He is one of America’s greatest sons and what he did will never be duplicated. So why are we still trying?